Proposal: South Africa Regional Structure

+6 votes

In accordance with the guidance provided in Help:Category Creation and Removal, the following proposal has been submitted to the Categorization Project for review. With no objections noted, this proposal is now moving to the G2G community for feedback.

South Africa Regional Structure

The following is a proposed category mapping of the regional structure for South Africa. The intent is to clearly outline the second and third tiers to accommodate the placement of ‘landing’ categories for districts, cities, towns and settlements where South Africans were born, lived and died.

The status of this proposal can be tracked via the Wiki-Categories Trello Board.

in Policy and Style by Steve Harris G2G6 Pilot (324k points)


I think you are inferring things from my post which were not intended. The comment was specifically related to the entire category structure as whole, specifically the regional structures. Dates may be present in a specific structure - but they should not be expected to be used or considered approved for use in the entire structure.

RE: Denmark categorization - with the above, I will also refer back to one of your answers from 2017 which stated, in part, that:

There the goal is to get all the profiles into the categories for the state church parish (sogn) to group families over time to help with the problem of not having family names until late in their history.  Very few sogn actually changed their names. So far I've found only one.  Mostly what happens is that they split or merge.  So the bottom level, the sogn level generally has no dates in the category name if it lasted the whole period from 1536 to the present. different historical period categories when the subdivisions above the sogn level changed names and organization frequently.

With this, you have also helped to illustrate part of my earlier point, that higher-level categories exist for our own organizational and navigational purposes - and do not need to be entirely factual or geographically correct for a specific time period in relation to specific profiles.


Is it WikiTree policy that I now have to register with Trello who will the share my information with whomever they want, including but not limited to all information on my team. Trello Privacy Policy . That is not privacy policy but a tack me and sell me publicly.

You do not need to register with Trello as the board is open to public viewing without the need for an account.
Displays for ten seconds then popup to register. Close popup and info gone
What is incorrect about the current default place name suggestions (the first thing I do is to turn it off) are suggestions such as:

Swellendam, Kaapprovinsie, 1715-1994, Zuid-Afrika

Swellendam - both town and huge administrative in the 18th century, dit not fall under any province (those came only in the first part of the 20th century), and Zuid-Afrika is the Dutch current name for South Africa. Neither it nor the Enlish version existed before 1900.
Those FamilySearch place name suggestions are horrible, I also have them turned off. Unfortunately there is nothing WikiTree can do about them because it is FamilyTree's API. To write an own API of that magnitude would be a huge undertaking. For a free site, I don't think WikiTree has the resources to do that at present. This proposal is just for category purposes and not for place names.

Edit:of -off


South Africa's geographic history is a little complex, but creating an accurate place name root structure is not.  If I were to partake in this exercise, there would never be a structure which drills down to the landing category Swellendam, Kaapprovinsie, Zuid-Afrika.   Swellendam was, as you correctly state, a district, of the Kaapkolonie and there was no provincial areas within the Cape Colony... just districts.  The Cape at that time was a nation in its own right... a colony of the Dutch and then British. Since many of those districts are as good as synonymous with the major settlements which developed with in, in the scheme of things I would imagine, that the District would be predominant at that time.   I do believe this is what you want to see, thus Swellendam, Kaapkolonie - klaar.   Presently there are towns/cities categorised simply, for example, such as Oudtshoorn, Cape Colony.   In the 18th century it was in the district of George (?) but fell under the administration of Swellendam, if I am not mistaken.  Thus the settlement of Oudtshoorn, which I have a special interest in, might well be categorized during the Dutch influence simply as Swellendam, Kaapkolonie or arguably George, Kaapkolonie.  SA Roots would be the best judge of that during the implementation stage. 

These are the nitty-gritties that will be resolved by the SA Roots and associated projects in liaison/collaboration with the Categories Project.  All this proposal is trying to establish is a general consensus on the regional root structures which sit above the landing level categories.


Seems that your reply to my comment is at odds to that of Louis.

Why don't you try the automatic suggestion for Swellendam and see what you get before you assume that what I understand and propose (really curious about the latter).

No, my replies to either of you are not at odds...  The automatic suggestion for Swellendam comes up with 'Swellendam District'  the syntax of which, in the scheme of the proposed regional root structure, is wrong.  It has no profiles.  It should read Swellendam District, Dutch Cape Colony (or simply Cape Colony), which would be determined by the eventual structure.  It should also have a category information box and a short narrative.  But we are back to the nitty-gritties... is this really necessary?  Please don't take umbrage at what I may believe you want - that was merely my interpretation... if I am wrong simply state what you really want a little more clearly, because, with respect, I cannot read your mind.   And on that note, I am stepping out of this discussion.

Steve... please may this g2g thread be closed... it has been superseded.  There is a new proposal at South_African_Place_Categorisation_v.II

9 Answers

+5 votes
Reasonable structure and straightforward. Will the CIB be used and navigation between current and historic places be provided? I'm assuming yes.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (340k points)
+6 votes
I think this has been well thought out and is clearly explained.  I'm with Doug on the CIB's... I hope they will be used.
by Amy Gilpin G2G6 Mach 4 (49.2k points)
+5 votes
Same comment as I made to the Ireland proposal:

If I try to access the background discussions on the Trello board, I cannot use the link to access the Google Group discussion because I'm not a member of the Categorization Project and its Google Group.

If this is going to be part of the way a proposal for categorization change is brought to G2G, then we all ought to be able to access the discussions in the Trello links.
by Mary Jensen G2G6 Mach 8 (83.5k points)
WikiTree ought not to touch with a barge-pole a data-scraping and reselling organization such as Trello.


As I commented on the thread in response to this same post:

The Trello board is for tracking purposes only, and that process is open and available to be reviewed by all members of WikiTree. The first part of the process is that the proposal is formally reviewed in the Categorization Project's Google Group by the Project Liaisons. The documentation of this recorded in an effort to show that this collaborative process was done (and when) and is not meant to be a reviewed item in the formal G2G proposal process. Whatever understanding you have on its usage is assumed and is incorrect.

In short, we are not referencing previous discussions, we are just documenting that those discussions have taken place in accordance with the documented processes. Those initial internal discussions often result in modifications to proposals, and by the time the discussions come to G2G, there could have been a total rewrite or significant changes made to the proposal's documentation - so it would make no sense to reference those discussions as they may have comments and suggestions that do not relate to the current state of the formal G2G proposal.

WikiTree ought not to touch with a barge-pole a data-scraping and reselling organization such as Trello.

This is being managed by a Project and not "WikiTree".

+2 votes

I get the impression, in the comments on the question, that the management of the various South African projects was not consulted before the project was put on G2G.The proposed regional structure cannot fly without getting those projects on board. I suggest that this question be closed for now until a proposal that has the backing of those project managers and leaders can be put forward.

by Dirk Laurie G2G6 Mach 3 (35k points)

I agree with you Dirk. The discussions that lead to this proposal can only be accessed by members of the Categorisation project. I think they are totally out of touch. I sent them a few links, but did not get any positive feedback.

Dirk - Laurie,

Just to be clear, the comments and discussion that happen in the Categorization group are not a formal approval by any means, and are only covering the general concepts of categorization as published in the Help Pages:

  1. Does the structure conform to the guidelines on General Naming
  2. Does the structure fit within, beside or cause any potential issues with an existing documented and approved structure (in this case, Regions) and/or does this structure mirror a previously approved structure?
  3. Does the structure have any potential overlap with other  Projects?
  4. Does the structure pose any possible DBE Categories Suggestions?

Once these items are determined, and no known issues exist - the proposal moves to G2G as it has now. This is in no way a final proposal at this time and is open for discussion as I have noted to Louis previously.

I will also be messaging the Leaders of the project to review and contribute to this discussion.

Also, it would be wonderful if specific modifications were given instead of a handful of links.  Obviously, the input of members knowledgeable in the geographical area is important here which is why the proposal is brought to G2G - for discussion, modifications, etc.  To simply say you don't like it, isn't particularly helpful.
The thing is, now that it is on G2G the project leaders are just at the same level as any other G2G member. I have on occasion expostulated on G2G on the utter impossibility of getting answers to the question posed, since participants tend to set up straw men that totally miss the point, and was told off.

My point is that the project leaders should have been involved at a much earlier stage, by for example by making  [[Space:South_Africa_Regional_Structure]] editable only by the trusted list, putting the draft proposal there, and adding those project leaders to the trusted list. Only when consensus is reached between people like Louis and people like Steve should the matter be put on G2G. It is not too late to do that even now, but since we can't undo what has been done, people like Mary who have something to contribute could apply to be on that trusted list.

WikiTree already has the necessary structure for collaborative work, in fact that is its main purpose, Absolutely no reason to involve Trello.
There have been ongoing conversations about this with project leaders/members since at least December.
I suppose you are referring to the discussions where it was decided not to go ahead with categorization.
Also, please understand that categories and projects are not the same thing.  While we value the input of project leaders and members regarding the structuring, categories exist outside of the project for all members to use if they would like.  Whether a category structure goes forward or not, isn't based on whether or not project leaders want it to.  They are two different entities.  

The Categorization Project tries hard to meet the goals of both categories and projects, but ultimately it comes down to universal usage across WikiTree, and categories have to follow similar structures in order to make sense and be more accessible.  Which is why we have the Categorization Project - and why we ask for Leaders/members who are knowledgeable to help.  It's not really about should we have categories or not. It's about how to have the most efficient structuring that's as accurate as possible.
I am taking my own advice and hereby withdraw from this G2G discussion, instead putting my comments on the Space profile, which is where they belong.
A question Dirk. Is every discussion done by the various South Africa Projects open for anyone to contribute or do they use a Google Group type format for the initial discussions.
+5 votes
Despite any background in South African geographical structure, the proposed categorization structure makes sense. I think this is a sound proposal.
by Abby Glann G2G6 Pilot (390k points)
I agree Abby.
+3 votes

Just wondering in general:

  • What problem(s), if any, are solved by implementing regional category structures?
  • What benefits are envisioned?  How will they be obtained?
  • To what extent are the basic location data (birth, marriage, death) replicated?
  • How will this redundancy be managed?
  • By what means will the landing levels be populated?
  • What effort is expected of the average member?
  • What software support will be implemented?

Just a real life case. I was asked a while ago by a Dutch Roots member how to record someone migrating from Prussia to Nederland. He had studied the CIB page. I did too. No result. Ended up with missing category (forgot which one).  But a WikiTree+ query showed no categories were needed just Prussia Netherlands (or Aachen Amsterdam, or Rheinland Noord-Holland) as search criteria did the job. So how will the complex regional category hierarchies make this easier for the average member?

by Jan Terink G2G6 Pilot (178k points)
edited by Jan Terink

I will try and answer your questions.

  1. Adopting a structure prevents duplicate categories and various database errors. It also prevents adhoc adding of categories into the wrong hierarchy.
  2. Benefits is collecting the profiles in a particular area in one place it helps grouping them for easier searching
  3. It is replicated only as much as the Profile Managers want to add the categories for an event. You don't have to have a category for every little event if you don't want to. 
  4. By Profile managers and Categorization team
  5. By The Profile Managers adding the categories themselves
  6. Using the Category Picker or Copy/Paste the requested category
  7. No additional software support needed as already supporting the Categories in place worldwide. 
The average member is only likely be interested in the Landing categories and not the higher categories and there is the Category Picker that can be used to help. They can also use the Category request form or ask in G2G for help. Two ways are newish but the G2G option is always available. 

Darren, thanks for your answers.

I can only conclude that the landing levels will only be sparsely populated as populating is a 100% manual activity, totally dependent on the awareness, willigness and expertise of individual members. No plan to process current base of profiles lacking landing level categories. Makes search results very incomplete and unreliable.

Querying WikiTree+ with location criteria gets far more complete and reliable results.

Using WikiTree + also throws up inaccurate results as it can give profiles that do not have anything to do with the exact location that may be searched. Especially when locations are not fully expanded.

For example I have found profiles which have Suffolk as the location. Using WikiTree + to try and find profiles with Suffolk will have multiple locations. Whereas if there was a Suffolk, England category on the profile it would help with grouping the profile in the right area and mean someone can expand the location which would help in finding profiles using WikiTree +.

Both are tools that rely on the correct information being inputed to help with searches. The category option is on the profile page though which can reduce the steps to finding other profiles.

Yes some categories may start out being sparsely populated but some have over 3000 profiles in them. But until a Location category is created you won't know. This proposal is suggesting the structure that should be followed. It does not mean that every little location has to be created right away.

Sure, the value of result sets depends on the quantity and correctness of the available data and the query facilities offered. If I search WikiTree+ with "Haarlem Nederland" I will not only get profiles with a vital event in the city  Haarlem, but also those with surname Haarlem. Because WikiTree+ treats all database items as a match for a search string.

Why would anyone in your Suffolk example add a category instead of qualifying Suffolk with the country name in the appropriate data item(s)? Or would you expect both addition of category and expansion of location, introducing redundancy? Also category Suffolk, England is not a landing level, so no profiles at that level, thus not searchable. No problem on WikiTree+ with those values (accepting New England as a bonus...).

Also WikiTree+ offers tailored queries by specifying magic words for century, unsourced, orphaned, and more, sortable on various items.

There will be a long, long way to go before categories are populated at a representative level. Example? WikiTree+ gives you 48999 profiles for "suffolk england", with categories giving only 2408. In other words only 5% coverage in categories...

The introduction of these regional categories will ask additional, illogical effort on the part of members (why do I have to add  categories X, Y, and Z when I already recorded birth location X, marriage location Y, and death location Z in the database items?), with apparently no plan to solve the backlog of huge numbers of profiles with 'uncategorized' locations.

But I guess there is no support for stopping this train. Maybe get mileage by populating the landing levels by EditBot for profiles having disambiguous values in the location data items?

+4 votes

Hi Steven

You start your message with

With no objections noted, this proposal is now moving to the G2G community for feedback

Sorry This is the first time I have seen this. Have no idea why, but water under the bridge ....   Moving forward  

Looking at your proposal  here

I will have to read and re-read the proposal and as Eowyn suggested  help with the mistakes made in the naming conventions. Lets start with the very first one 

At first glance I see that 13 provinces are listed and to my knowledge there are only 9  

I quote : 

Since 1994, South Africa has been divided into nine provinces: the Eastern Cape, the Free StateGautengKwaZulu-NatalLimpopoMpumalangaNorth West, the Northern Cape and the Western Cape

The boundaries of the provinces, which are specified in the national constitution, have been altered twice by constitutional amendment. I am only aware the one in 2005 so will have to read up in the Government pages and see what exactly the 12th amendment stand for and what changes was made  (bad grammar sorry) 

How will we handle these amendments as we are working with Birth and death dates and places - as per you proposal ? 

Not sure how to proceed: Would you like me to  offer my help here on G2G or should we communicate privately?

Warm regards



by Ronel Olivier G2G6 Mach 5 (59.7k points)

Hi Ronel

The Reason for 13 Provinces is that from 1910 to 1994 there was 4 provinces then in 1994 there were 9 provinces created. As that is relatively recent genealogical speaking for data sources the decision was suggested to have all 13 in the South Africa, Places Hierarchy. 

Thanks for the explanation Darren

Now I understand the 13 provinces and the including of 2 different names for Natal

Does this mean that Natal Province  (Should read Province of Natal) will be added from 1910-1994 and KwaZuluNatal after 1994.? 

IMHO this will exclude a large time frame when the province was just called Natal. From 1960-1994  =34 years   

 To understand my  reason: See the historical correct names for the  period 1910-1994.

Province of Natal, Union of South Africa
Natal, Republic of South Africa
KwaZulu-Natal, Republic of South Africa  

This is why I was thinking of communicating all my suggestions in private as this is an open forum and not the place to discuss mistakes, made on a  space page that a lot of work went into. I feel uneasy with this process. 

I just want to add that I have no problem with the CAT's but would love to see that it is historically correct. Hope you will be able to accommodate the South African members in this. 



Was there a major difference in the territory covered by Province of Natal, Union of South Africa to Natal, Republic of South Africa? To a layman looking at Wikipedia there seems to be a clear difference pre and post 1994 in territory.

So for this instance could the category be called Natal with an explanation of the different names on the category page?

Hi Darren, as an example, here is a map of how the homelands divided the provinces, some starting since the 1950's. 

Hi Ronel,

In regards to "With no objections noted, this proposal is now moving to the G2G community for feedback."

See the following link (items #1-4) for what items are reviewed by Categorization before moving to G2G. What I meant is that no objections were noted for those items and the proposal met general categorization guidelines:

Thanks Steve

Hi Ronel,

Vir histories, wat van ons identifiseer die vyf hoofareas, Kaap, Transvaal, Vrystaat, Natal en Suidwes en noem dit areas. Daarna dorps areas hetsy dit landros distrikte of naaste dorp is. en dan plekke, wat insluit dorpe en ander plekname. Plekke soos bv Amandelboom wat Williston geword het, kan net die koppel-kategorie boksie kry.

Hierdie is net vir kategoriee en vereis nie werklik absolute plekname nie.  

Yes Daren

Thanks that sounds like a very good idea:

Just Natal as a Main Regional Category  would make it KISS and the explanation will be great !! 

Might I suggest that we also follow suit with the rest of the regions ie: Cape, Transvaal, Orange Free State.  all with explanations in the Bios ? 

All these can then have Sub Cat's  with districts - including town and city names  as you redeem fit for your project ???  Should the profile manager need to group families more exact.    

We will also have to include South West Africa -only granted independence in 1990 (with the exception of Walvisbay and Penquin Island - granted independence in 1994)


Robben and Marion Island  don't you think ?? - some births and deaths did also occur there.  





0 votes

Thank you for your positive responses and the expression of your concerns.  I do not think that the Categorization Project is attempting to take anything from the SA Roots and associated projects, but rather add to it.  The categorisations of a South African Regional Structures is essential, and there is no attempt to usurp the SA Roots Project objectives.

The crux of this initiative is to get an acceptable regional structure in place, which should be consistent with the global regional scenario.   This cannot be difficult, nor complicated.   South Africa's geographic history may be unique, but any regional categorization structure is not. 

The proposal placed before G2G is deliberately not complex, nor overwhelming.  The proposal is not set in stone and is capable of adaption, provided it is consistent with accepted categorization standards.   The two key root categories, under South Africa, Places are:

South Africa, Historic Places

South Africa, Provinces

The subsidiary root categories to these are being contested before they are in place.  The SA Roots Project will determine, I guess, in collaboration with the Categories Project, which of the colonies, the republics, and even South West Africa will go.  I agree with Louis Heyman, the Union of South Africa should be considered as an historic place.  Its duration was May 1910 to May 1961, when South Africa became a Republic.  

The matter of  South Africa, Provinces was quite simple… at the time of writing all the Provinces from 1910 to date are named.  If we choose to move the Union of South Africa to South Africa, Historic Places... they are still all relevant to pre and post Rainbow South Africa.  Someone suggested that global cities do not need province identity.  In the grand scheme of things categorisation, yes they do.

I also acknowledge Louis’ contention re South West Africa.  However, South West Africa is now the sovereign state of Namibia.  The physical geographic territory we now know as Namibia must be set up as a regional structure in its own right, and South West Africa will be a category under Namibia, Historic Places.  However, it has equal significance under the South Africa Regional Structure under the category South Africa, Historic Places.   

While Louis is correct with respect to the Cape Colony, the South African Roots project has been very specific about splitting the Cape Colony under the Dutch and the Cape Colony under the British.   The division should remain and not be interfered with.  The question is raised as to why these colonies do not fall under British and Dutch regional structure.  The British Cape Colony already does, but this requires a little maintenance.  There would be no objection to the two colonies falling under their sovereign states, and perhaps this might be extended to the Natal Colony, which was also a British colony.  But, they should also be within the South Africa Regional category root structure, because they are a part of the physical, geographic boundaries of what makes up South Africa today.

Again I agree with Louis concerning dates of incorporation/inauguration, mergers and cessions etc.  South Africa has a pretty complex geo-political history and definition of dates would assist usage of categories.  It’s a pity that this would not be consistent with WikiTree policy in regional structures.  With place naming the category information box would resolve this and the question of language.  If it were, I would have a second Rhodesia (before Southern Rhodesia) in Zimbabwe’s historic places.

The South Africa Republic is just the English equivalent of Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek, more commonly known as the Transvaal Republic and Transvaal Colony at different times.  This does raise the question of language and a structure which is dual stream to cater for English and Afrikaans.  I do make the point that South Africa has 10 official languages and Afrikaans and English are not the top most spoken, they rate third and fourth.  However, Afrikaans is by far the more widely used a spoken among active South African WikiTree users and this must be respected.  

South African categories already have two language streams, and much work under the Dutch controlled Cape Colony is in Dutch if I am not mistaken.  Categorization Project is addressing multiple language categorization.   For the time being we need to make the choice of one language stream, get the regional structure set up, and then address alternates later.  Louis Heyman does, quite rightly, express concern with language naming conventions.  I do believe that this applies more to place names (at the category landing level), rather than the root structure (which in my humble opinion should be in the dominant languages of users – and for now that means two streams).   There would be absolutely no objection in the use of Dutch names of places at the landing category level, if that was the language in use at the time.  CIBs would be ‘deployed’ using the AKA (also known as) function.

Let us not harp on matters of WikiTree procedures, and how this initiative was brought to G2G.  Avoid the fine details of what is right and what is wrong at the landing category levels.  I agree with some comments about districts being more pertinent than towns during the 19th Century.  South African is not unique in districts being more dominant for categorization in rural environments where settlements have evolved therein (churches and eventually administration and commerce).   People were born in districts and only came to the village/town settlements to baptise their young. The earlier use of districts rather than towns seems predominant in the Cape. 

I am genuinely here to help and bring a positive outcome to this initiative, and I applaud it.   Much appreciate to Steven Harris for the initiation.   I am happy to do all the work in full collaboration with the SA Roots Project, and will re-join the project, if invited to do so, for this purpose.  I would be happy to lead an SA Roots team on categorization.  Just by way of note, I am busy initiating the categorization of other southern African states.

I sincerely appeal to all parties here to enter into some form of constructive dialogue for the entire benefit of those working on South African profiles, as I am.  A time for leadership, perhaps.



by Andrew Field G2G6 Mach 2 (20.4k points)
edited by Andrew Field
Thank you Andrew. I suggest that under the main categories for SA Historic there be only five , Cape, Free State, Transvaal, Natal and South West Africa. On the category page for each you can list the actual place names and periods they existed or reference the South African place name page. The next level will be the District or nearest town level, with the places (including towns) level the last level.

This gives you a simple structure which will group people genealogically correct for the whole period from 1652 till 1994. This way we skip all the confusion with border changes, merges and renamings. The simpler it is, the less chance of mistakes.

Edit: I wouldn't put too much emphasis on "district" because those  changed continuously (borders and renaming) The important part is the nearest town area.
I would suggest that that very broad categorization over the period you state may defeat the object of categorization. I may be wrong in suggesting that somewhere along the line, there needs to be some correlation between place name stated on source documents (i.e. birth certificates and indexes) and the landing level category names.   For many who are researching, I guess there would come a time when one might to drill down to a category at the landing level to research names.   For instance, I have a very special need to review the Muller family of Oudtshoorn at the time of the British Cape Colony and then as part of Cape Province post 1910.   Ditto for a few towns and places for the Pietersen family in the Northern Cape.  The more Mullers and Pietersens I can find in a specific place within a specific time frame the better.  

I understand many might fall for keeping it simple (KISS), but we might acknowledge that genealogists, amateur or professional, have a discerning sense of history and consummate knowledge (skill) of the region in which they are working.  With categorization being accessible from a drop down choice menu, it is pretty simply.  When a category is not listed, there are forms to complete requesting the addition of a category.  Nothing could be simpler, no matter how complex the category root structure.
Your town or place is your  landing category. What is the point of crosslinking that town to six or more different paths when you end up at the same place at the top? The category is there to group people together in the landing category not to duplicate other database fields.
Louis, Every landing category should have a root structure.  That root structure, as proposed, means that a place landing category in one time frame, say under South Africa, Historic Places, would need to be cross linked to the same place under South Africa, Places.  Effectively, the proposal suggests categorization will take place in not only towns/places but within a time frame too, thus narrowing down the lists created to manageable levels...

If you look at Dutch Cape Colony category, you will see many hundreds of profiles listed.   Four subsidiary categories have been introduced to narrow the list down to districts.  Clearly someone has seen the need.  There would be no cross linking here because each district is unique.  There comes a time when the Cape becomes a province of a sovereign state... Towns in the province will be categorised... and cross linked back to the Cape Dutch districts.
You have a very indirect way of trying to make a point. So you are saying that for every country change, every province or homeland change, as well as every district change within that country a new instance of that landing category will be created. Meaning that you could end up with ten or more landing categories name eg George. So if you have a cemetary in George, that would be duplicated each time for as many instances of George there exists. Maybe we have a church or a farm in George. Does that mean they get duplicated multiple times as well?
I am sorry... just trying to explain.  On Cemeteries, these are usually placed in the current place...  since in the case of George, cemeteries therein will come under George, Western Cape Province.  If it would help, have a look at the transition of Salisbury, Mashonaland, Southern Rhodesia, to Harare, Harare Province, Zimbabwe.  Cemeteries come under Zimbabwe, Cemeteries but are also nested in Harare’s case under Harare, Harare Province.
Please confirm my concern regarding upwards of ten landing categories per town. Am I understanding you correct?
No... it depends how the regional structure is designed and implemented.   Take George... During the Dutch Cape, the District of George is likely; it’s definitely a town in the Cape Colony under the British. Now, however you handle South Afirica from 1910, with five provinces, up until the circa 1994 province name changes is pertinent.  Clubbing them together as Union and Republic Provinces gives a single landing category for George. Post provincial name changes 1994 +/- there would be another landing level category for George.   So a minimum of three... potentially 5.  Definitely not  10...   If you would like, I am quite happy to map the potential structure for a couple of towns, as I perceive it.  We all need to accept that South Africa place names are far more complex than say the USA or say England.  Africa as a whole will have place name categorization issues... thanks to colonialism and transitions.  One of the reasons that there are 13 provinces proposed is to reduce the proliferation of landing categories.   I urge you once more to look at how Zimbabwe was handled.  Louis, I know you have genuine concerns, perhaps we could chat on the phone.
In my opinion, as soon as a place gets a name, it should have only one landing category for that name. You can cross connect it with as many districts as you like as and how provinces and district names changed. While a place name doesn't change, its landing category must not change. That is the stable part of this whole scheme. I have not seen a single help file placing a limit on category size.
Louis... I think we are poles apart in our thinking on this topic.  There may not be any limits set on profiles to a category, but I am sure there has been discussion on useful quantums and unwieldy numbers.  Try paging through the Cape Dutch Colony profiles, if you have an hour   Perhaps it’s time for others from the Categorization Project to step in and commence discussions and answer some of you questions.  How about proposing a structure yourself...  to include place name changes etc.

Have a look at the unsourced category if you would like to compare. The categories are pretty navigable with the Jump to a letter: template. You should have seen it before I wrote that crude hack. 
It is simple. When a place name of a landing level category changes, the place gets a new landing level category name. Example Amandelboom became Willistone. and you can then add that box thing that tells you.

 I suggest that under the main categories for SA Historic there be only five , Cape, Free State, Transvaal, Natal and South West Africa. On the category page for each you can list the actual place names and periods they existed or reference the South African place name page. The next level will be the District or nearest town level, with the places (including towns) level the last level.

This gives you a simple structure which will group people genealogically correct for the whole period from 1652 till 1994. This way we skip all the confusion with border changes, merges and renamings. The simpler it is, the less chance of mistakes.

Thanks Louis, a reasonable counter proposal...  Certainly, it has gone through my mind that there needs to be merger of the pre-1910 states, perhaps by the geographic area of the colonies and republics.   Thus there is only one Cape Colony, a Cape Province, and then ultimately the split between Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape.  Still means there are three landing categories for George, which we have discussed.  Why three phases... firstly there are changes in sovereignty and then name changes of the provinces following the split.   Do we ignore the change in 'sovereignty' from Union of South Africa to the Republic of South Africa?  Personally, I think so.  I am conscious though, that there may be a good deal of resistant to merging the Cape under the Dutch and the Cape under the British.   Should the Transvaal Republics be merged with the Transvaal Colony (a British interest up to the end of the Boer War) The only advantage of  multiples landing categories is to reduce to more manageable levels the profile numbers, and yes, of course there is as you say navigation aids.  
We need to progress this discussion and place it on a positive footing... I am sure if Categorization Project and SA Roots Project can see common territory in what you and I have discussed here then we can go forward.  Our differences are, if I read you correctly, your resistance to multiple landing categories versus my wish to have multiple landing categories for the same place in a different time frame.   Merging of the colonies (despite different sovereignty) and the various republics in their own geographic areas, brings us closer together.

Andrew you cannot randomly merge two "pre 1910" states. What correct name are you going to give the merge states. That is why you have the five geographical areas as I propose. 
Cape, Free State, Transvaal, Natal and South West Africa.

A town can have only one landing category unless there was a name change. You can have as many different category lines back to South Africa as you like, if you want to go to the trouble of correctly defining each province, district or country change, I really don't care as long as the town gets only one landing category. You place town within a district, and other places within the town district or call it nearest town. The town / place is the fixed point. If you type the town name, you get only the one place unless there were truly two or more places with that name.


So, in your view or preference, one category per district/town/settlement irrespective of sovereignty or geographic history.   Basically, that makes a categorization regional structure pointless, to my mind.

I would like to hear the views of others, especially those with a South African interest..
No, one landing category per place(town/settlement) while it has the same name. This eliminates having to browse through a complex structure without dates. (Remember, dates are not approved for top level categories) All  profiles are easily grouped by their place of origin in an easily understandable structure which leaves the members more free time to spend on actual genealogy whilst maintaining a great feature to group people according to their place of origin. That is after all the objective of the exercise.
0 votes

The contentions on G2G appear to be against the proliferation of places of the same name in the structure. 

The subsidiary level category South Africa, Historic Places seems to be the key problem, and we also have changes in province names to contend with.

Place categorization must concern itself with the physical area of the current day sovereign state of the Republic of South Africa.

My thinking is that changes in national sovereignty, as has occurred throughout South Africa’s history, require that those countries or nations that existing before the Republic of South Africa should be catered for under the category South Africa, Historic Places.  Subsidiary to these would be provinces, districts or town, depending on the era.

Potentially, therefore, were we to implement the proposed structure we could have the following for a place such as Oudtshoon:

South Africa, Historic Places

  • Cabo de Goede Hoop
    • Swellendam District, Cabo de Goede Hoop (administered the area of Oudshoorn – 1750’s)
  • Cape Colony (remember there are Dutch and British influences)
    •  Swellendam District, Cape Colony
    •  Oudtshoorn, Cape Colony (the town was officially founded 1848)
  • Union of South Africa
    • Cape Province, Union of South Africa
      • Oudtshoorn, Cape Province

South Africa, Places

  •  Cape Province, South Africa
    •  Oudtshoorn, Cape Province (this is clearly a duplication, and disallowed, suggesting merger of Union and Republic for purpose of categorization – the proposal made that suggestion)
  • Western Cape Province, South Africa (Province name changes in 1994)
    • Oudtshoorn, Western Cape Province

This means we have 4, potentially 3 Oudtshoorns to contend with.  Since the place naming convention we use includes both the name of the city/town/settlement and the province, county or state that it is in, then this to me is logical.

Those who oppose this structure, basically wish to have one town for all time, unless the town itself changes its name.  Thus, they would choose to eliminate provincial name changes or opt for the current day provincial structure.  So we could simply have Oudtshoorn, South Africa (some say provinces are irrelevant) or Oudtshoorn, Western Cape Province for all time – 1652-2019 and beyond. 

My contention would be that Oudtshoorn, Cape Colony is different to Oudtshoorn, Western Cape Province and I could see, when categorising  exactly which choice to make from the category picker menu, knowing the timeframe the profile belongs to.

So the question to the Project is… which is the correct and preferred way? Unfortunately, most of Africa has a colonial history, but that is not unique to the continent, so presumably provisions are made for this history.

For discussion please.

by Andrew Field G2G6 Mach 2 (20.4k points)
edited by Andrew Field
Oudshoorn is a poor example. Missing the major district changes. The whole Cape are was only proclaimed shortly before in 1847 if I remember right. Your take on the town is also not what was said. I specifically suggested for historic places.  Please stop beating around the bush. Read what others said. Specifically Ronel and Dirk. You are more than welcome to implement your system the way you like for post 1994. Just stick with us on the historic places pre 1994. Do you find that acceptable?
Louis... hmmm, I do not think it in the good spirit of WikiTree to use phrases like ‘stop beating around the bush’.

With respect, might I suggest that you make a full proposal for a South African Regional Structure to the Categorization Project, and then, once approved, bring it here to G2G for discussion.

My contribution here is merely to suggest some conformity with the Categorization Project’s aspirations for place names on WikiTree.  I am working many South African profiles and I just don’t believe the existing structure is appropriate or useful for effective categorization.  I am struggling a little with the apparent resistance.

  I am struggling a little with the apparent resistance.

if that is the attitude of the categorisation project, I'm done. Why do you even bother posting to G2G? Good luck. - I'm out of here.

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