Project: Categorization/Talk archive

This is an archive of the talk page for the Categorization Project. We are no longer using the talk pages, and are using G2G instead. Do not edit the contents of this page. If you wish to start a new discussion or revive an old one, please do so on G2G.

This archive was created on 24 April 2013.



How to Use Talk Pages

If you're not used to using other wikis, you may not be familiar with talk pages. To start a new discussion, create a new section. For example, I created this section by typing == How to use talk pages == and then starting to type on the next line. To respond to someone, just add your response underneath what you're responding to. It's customary to indent responses with a colon, so the first response would start with : and a response to that would start with ::, etc. That makes talk pages easier to read. Please sign your comments with ~~~~, which will display your name and the date and time of your comment. I hope that helps! :) -- Lianne Lavoie

Where to Find Conclusions

When discussions lead to decisions, the conclusions are moved to one of these pages:

  1. The Categories home page, for the top-level categories and examples of the hierarchy structure.
  2. The main Categorization Project page, for general tips and community stuff.
  3. The style guide for Category Names, i.e. rules for creating category names.

This Talk Page vs. G2G

What is easier, using this page for conversations, or using the Categorization Q&A Category on G2G? Is there a role for both? Whitten-1 08:26, 12 July 2012 (EDT)

I think this talk page is easier - at least so far. One assumes it will be moderated. Gabbard-31 18:38, 20 July 2012 (EDT)
Late to the party, but I agree that using this page will cut through much of the "divergent tangle" which occurs on the G2G page from those well-intended-yet-uninformed folks who will want to participate. Your project group here seems to be more of the 'techie-type' who also have a greater motivation to improve the WikiTree overall, as opposed to those who may merely stumble upon "something interesting"... (this last classification includes me) Keith Baker 20:53, 2 August 2012 (EDT)
I agree. I think that G2G is great for conversations that should involve the broader WikiTree community, and for making people aware of categories, but this talk page is good for setting standards and making the tough decisions without boring the people who aren't interested in that kind of stuff. Lavoie-74 11:15, 3 August 2012 (EDT)

Misc. Topics

Question about our Categorization Philosophy

Since I haven't been involved in wiki's in any depth I have taken a few days to study wiki's, how they work and philosophy behind using them. I would now describe wiki's as the most libertarian of cooperative efforts. The wiki philosophy seems to be one of limited governance with the ability to work independently yet cooperatively to achieve a given end. It is genius. I'm literally blown away.

We humans love to make rules not only to keep order but also to nudge or force others to conform to a our way of thinking. I have devoted thousands of hours to the dmoz project categorizing websites and often found (even as a community leader) my hands were tied with hard and fast rules that didn't seem to me to make sense. Once a rule was made it was the devil's own job to get rid of it and many times it was easier to makes rules dealing with exceptions trying to find a path around the roadblock. (That is how we end up with something that resembles the U.S. Tax Code.)

After my few days of wiki research I find myself on the horns of dilemma. To have structure in categorization I have until now believed that you need strict rules otherwise you will end up with confusion. But after studying wiki's I've now confronted the question: What if you don't need these rules? What if rules end up hindering more than helping?

For example, I'm involved in discussions about if we should be listing cemeteries in counties or states along with a listing in cities. What if instead of making it a rule about where cemeteries should be listed and spending valuable time moving those not in the "right" place we let the user decide what is the most useful to them? Will allowing users freedom of choice always result in chaos? I would never think of looking under states to find cemeteries but to many other users that might be the first place they would look. So which way is the more correct? Or are we just inhibiting the use of categories by asking for compliance? Forcing everyone to think the same way?

In the spirit of cooperative effort couldn't another user take my work putting cemeteries in county categories and add them to states if it helped them become better organized or they thought it might help others? Why should I be forced to do that when it doesn't aid the way *I* work or think?

In another example I'm in the process of listing burials on a free space page for a cemetery. I find this tedious work. On my 13 inch laptop it is more trouble to type names, dates of birth and death in a list on this cemetery page then it would be to simply make a category for the cemetery and have the ability to simply paste the category link on the profile page and let the software sort and organize the profiles alphabetically. In addition if I made the cemetery a category there would no chance of misspelling the name or getting dates wrong with retyping. But there is now some sort of "rule" that says I shouldn't make a category out of a cemetery. Why do we really care if someone does that? (After this experience I would hesitate to make another free space cemetery page and at the same time we've closed the door to allowing me the use of categories to become more organized with the information I have.)

If I'm not discouraged from making an individual cemetery category couldn't someone else using what I've built add my cemetery category as a subcategory of a county or state if they found that useful? Or build a free space cemetery page and then add that to the category I've made?

So I'm asking, in keeping with the philosophy that fewer rules are usually best, if we shouldn't back off all but the most general kind of guidance? Giving instead easy to understand examples of how categories can aid our ability to organize our information and not invest so much in conformity and in rule making? If it is of use to the INDIVIDUAL user haven't categories done what they are designed to do? Irvin-110 20:50, 28 October 2012 (EDT)

Interesting dilemma; well thought out, well presented. Thanks, Gail, for your insightful query. I hope this will bring forth a fruitful discussion.Keith Baker 11:20, 29 October 2012 (EDT)
I appreciate your point of view, appreciate the presentation of your argument, and in general agree with you on many points. I think that if this were a pure Wiki then I would stand firmly behind your stances on most points, but WikiTree (fortunately or unfortunately depending on your point of view) is not a pure Wiki where it is an open forum where people can modify it to whatever suits their need. There is much of that ability inherent in WikiTree or it could not call itself a wiki, but this site has an overriding purpose that precludes a purely free-form environment.
According to the WikiTree Honor Code (Special:Honor_Code) "WikiTree is free, but not a free-for-all". There is a defined purpose behind this group collaboration, there is room for individuality and customization but it all has to be within the context of the purpose of WikiTree. For example, if this was just a pure wiki it would not be a big deal that at one point we had somewhere around 15 individual profiles for President Abraham Lincoln, but since the purpose of this site is to build one tree and not thousands of trees those profiles had to be merged and cleaned up. This was necessary to build one strong tree. Additionally as part of this pursuit a variety of groups have been formed to create style guides and examples to help guide people in building out their individual trees while working towards to overriding goal of building one "universal" tree.
This brings us back to categories and what is their role. I think that is something we are still trying to sort out to a certain extent. One of the constants I have heard brought up in conversations about categories is the expectation that they will be used to connect people further which hopefully lead to the locating and merging of duplicates and beyond that just the connections people can make through shared experiences, life events, etc. So how do categories live up to all that. I am not sure but - given the benefits and limitations with how WikiTree operates right now - it is going to be - I think - a pretty organic process in trying to find the balance between providing guidelines and making it easy for people to find, adopt, and/or create the categories they need.
I agree with you that I think some of the guidelines we have instituted are maybe not working as well as we had hoped and may need to be revisited but that is the whole point in trying to start this as early as possible so we can work as many of these bugs out as possible. As I have mentioned before I still am having trouble reconciling how to categorize people and free-space profiles. I can see how they work separately but when people and free-space profiles converge in a category it just gets messy. I believe you are the one who shared some articles on categorization and one of the points that jumped out at me was only creating the categories you need. Instead of trying to second guess what minor categories you might need in the future you start out by building general categories and grow from there. To use the example we have been talking about we would keep the state level for cemeteries and then as that grows we would add more "specialized" categories. For instance we could as the Category group agree that we will keep a maintain general categories until we have between five and ten items that could be put into a more "specialized" category. I can see at least two logistical issues with this approach... It would likely mean that the categorization group will have to manage/monitor different categories much as we are doing in the president's group for monitoring each president. Also it will mean more contact with individuals to update their categories when needed but hopefully that will be minimal if we set the cutoff at 5 or 10 before starting a new category.
Not sure how well I am getting my thoughts across so will stop now and allow my thoughts to percolate a little more.Chelton-4 15:08, 29 October 2012 (EDT)
Brian...Thank you so much for the input. I'll try and address your points.
Honor Code. WikiTree not a "free for all". We have an overriding purpose here. (Example of President Lincoln's 14 profiles needing to be merged is used.) I certainly agree with you and I agree with the Honor Code and our purpose. But categories are a tool for users. They, unlike profile pages, are not a part of the tree themselves. Duplicate categories are not making duplicate branches of our tree. Because we merge duplicate profiles doesn't necessarily mean that we need to merge duplicate categories. We've got to be clear on the difference between the two. Categories are an aid not an end.
"For instance we could as the Category group agree that we will keep a maintain general categories until we have between five and ten items that could be put into a more "specialized" category." BINGO Brian! This is something that goes to the heart of the issue. Who is doing the maintaining and who is deciding standards for EACH new category that our users are free to make? WikiTree has relatively few categories at this point. But I see organizing the ones that we already have as a huge job. New categories are being made each day and many of those would probably not fit in the guidelines already proposed. This will only get worse with with more users joining WikiTree. You can only do what you can do.
Unlike users come here to work on their trees not categories. Here categories are only a tool to make working on our individual branches of WikiTree easier. At Dmoz our only job is naming, organizing, defining and filling categories. It keeps thousands of editors busy all around the world. The real difference and advantage of category making and compliance on Dmoz is that on DMOZ we have real restrictions built into the software on making new categories and a strong supervisory levels built into the organization. This is not the spirit of a Wiki or WikiTree. There isn't any where near that level of governance.
The way we are progressing assumes an ideal WikiTree world... that before anyone would make a category they would check in with the naming conventions and/or style guides we are making. But before they can do that.. FIRST someone has to make a guideline for each type of category. That might be doable if we had a limited amount of categories available. But, take a minute and look at our category list and see what a wide range of subjects our users here already thought was important enough for a category names and we've only begun to categorize our pages. We already have everything from home improvement to space flight and a category even called "things". Now look at and look at all the categories that are possible and this is with STRONG restrictions on making categories in place there.
No one loves order more than I do... that is why I found Dmoz editing enjoyable. But here you have no restrictions in the software or in oversight on making categories. You can't possibly keep up with all the different types of categories that people will think of and then sit down and discuss and write rules for use on each one. So, why not allow WikiTree users the freedom to use this tool how they feel works for them to best grow their trees? Growing our tree is the goal.
I feel like with our rules about categorization we are trying to FORCE categories to be useful first for the group and secondly for the individual researcher. When, it seems to me, the purpose of the tool is actually to first be useful for the individual and then as a valuable side benefit it is an asset for the group. We've turned wiki categories on their head. We don't have enough governance here to do what we are doing in this group making these rules for naming and placing categories. The small amount of governance on a wiki (even our wiki) frees the user it doesn't inhibit them. This it seems is by design.
(I'm not saying that guidance isn't important. It is. But a brief gentle guidance on how to best use the tool rather than actually restricting what can be used where. Celebrate the tool and what it can do, don't try and make rules to try to restrict it. We'll spend all our time making rules and in the end we'll fail.)
Categories and free-space profiles make for "messy" category pages. I can see why you think so. But I also think that is also discussion for another topic. That is further along in the process then I was in this discussion. It is more of a design issue. Irvin-110 01:20, 30 October 2012 (EDT)
Great stuff, Gail and Brian.
I'm a strong believer in simple rules that evolve as needed. Whatever we're discussing, we can agree that it's part of a process and that decisions we make now may need to be revised later.
Perhaps this is what we should discuss first: Gail wrote, "the purpose of the [category] tool is actually to first be useful for the individual and then as a valuable side benefit it is an asset for the group. We've turned wiki categories on their head."
My operating assumption has been the opposite. WikiTree is all about collaboration. I was thinking of categories as a collaboration tool, not a tool for individual research.
For example, somebody like Lindsay might want to create "Category:My veteran ancestors" to aid her individual research. This would help Lindsay, but it would not help collaboration. If, instead, she uses categories for military units, she may find opportunities for collaboration with others whose ancestors served in the same units. (We have been planning to develop a way that you can view everyone in your Watchlist in military categories, so that Lindsay could still get the benefit of having a "my veteran ancestors" function.)
I'm not sure the purpose of categories can be individual research. One of the problems that emerged when we were talking about "my veteran ancestors"-type categories is that older ancestors would become crowded with them. If a Revolutionary War veteran has thousands of descendants he'd belong in thousands of categories.
Conceivably we could rearrange how categories appear and are used on WikiTree so that they'd work for individual use instead of group use. But could we have them work for both? I don't think so, but maybe I'm wrong. Whitten-1 12:23, 30 October 2012 (EDT)
I'll give some of my initial, after-my-bedtime thoughts on this (meaning I may be back later with smarter things to say). First of all, I'm not sure what is meant by categories being for "the group" as opposed to individuals. Do you mean this group? Because this group is not really about making categories useful for itself. The point of the group is to make categories useful to the individuals. By that I don't mean creating categories that are only useful to one person, as Chris already mentioned. What I mean is that the average WikiTreer should find the categories useful, and that is this group's goal.
To use the example I'm most familiar with: My initial inspiration to start using categories and to get everyone using categories was my one place study. I'm working on the genealogy of a parish, and I wanted an easy way to group all the people who lived there together. Thus, Category:St. François Xavier, Manitoba was born. I figured out the best way to structure the Canadian place categories, and others figured out the best way to structure the US ones. Since then, we've had a few incorrectly names categories pop up, but by and large the people who've been using them have been using them correctly, according to the system we've established. So, I think this is possible in general for all the categories we end up using.
Lastly, as for wikis freeing us, that's true, but as someone who's also a Wikipedia editor I can tell you that rules are important for any wiki to function. Wikipedia categories would be chaos if people could just create whatever categories they want, willy nilly. There are rules in place, and people follow them, and that's why the system works. I think the power of a wiki is in the fact that anyone can participate in the making and evolving of these rules. Lavoie-74 00:12, 31 October 2012 (EDT)
Thank you both for replying and trying to answer my concerns. Many years of experience in category work tells me there are some pretty deep pitfalls ahead with the way rules are being made. I sincerely hope that my concerns are misplaced. I do also want you to know I'm a good team player and I'm willing to happily comply with what is determined. I'm also a hard worker and I'm happy to help in any way I can.
My initial concern started with the fact that it appeared that I was prohibited from putting a cemetery in the county category. I should only put the cemetery in the city and the state category even though listing them in counties would have been very useful for *me*. That rule didn't make sense to me so I opened a discussion about it. Then I found myself with trying to organize which of my ancestors were in what cemetery. A great use for categories I thought, but then I read the rule that cemeteries could now only be free-space pages and the profiles should be linked on the page. They could not be categories. That is frustrating tedious work when you are working on a 13 inch laptop or ipad and have no room or ability to have two windows open at once. Again, another rule making no sense to *me* and I had just started to use categories. It seemed from what I was experiencing that rules were being made without really thinking about all the consequences of all these rules on individuals. I couldn't figure out how it would hurt the project if I was permitted to do (in these two cases) what I wanted to do.
So, I took quite a bit of time and looked over the list of Wikitree categories, read and studied about wiki's to try and come to terms with where the categories on WikiTree we headed and why the rules that were there were in place were there. Then I opened this discussion.
I'm a big supporter of rules and laws if (big "if")they don't make unnecessary and hurtful stumbling blocks for individuals. I also don't think rules ought to made unless you have the ability in staff and volunteers to make certain they are carried out. In addition and maybe most important, when making a rule you must always think very long term. I have admitted my inexperience with wikis and I don't have any experience at all editing on wikipedia but I would suggest that this project is a long way at this time from the type of governance available on wikipedia or even on Dmoz a project which is all about categories.
Lianne wrote: "We've had a few incorrectly names categories pop up, but by and large the people who've been using them have been using them correctly, according to the system we've established. So, I think this is possible in general for all the categories we end up using."
What happens to categories you see that people have named incorrectly? Do you get a list of all the categories made each day on WikiTree or are you only talking about the incorrect listings that appear in the categories that the group has made? Who is authorized to get in touch with these people who have made mistakes and explain what they did incorrectly and who is authorized to fix the mistakes if they don't? Do the mistakes just stay there? Is it in the long range plan to restrict in the software the making of categories to what the group outlines?
I'm not just being critical. I love the work that has been done in putting counties in states and I think that will be helpful to all users and I think the people that did it deserve a really big pat on the back. I'm certain that equally hard work has been done in the other categories. But it really worries me that rules are being made that make it harder for individuals to use this wonderful and helpful category tool. It worries me that many wikitree users are going to see the tool as being too complicated because of these rules and are just not going to participate when they could get real value out of using it. I'm not certain that enough attention is paid to the VAST amount of categories that could be made in the future and how to control what they will do.
Let me end with a quote that might best explain my concerns:"It is good to keep in mind that completeness, correctness, and consistency are sometimes the friends of usefulness, and sometimes the enemies of usefulness. With categories, I think they are enemies. -- StanSilver [inventor of wiki categories] " Irvin-110 14:11, 31 October 2012 (EDT)
First, let me just say that I do not represent the group, as there are various opinions here and I think of this as a collective. Everyone's opinions here are equally important. So, in my opinion, with the cemetery thing: I think if you want to make a category for a cemetery, that you put people profiles in, that's fine. I mean, wouldn't that category then just be categorised the same as a free space profile for a cemetery would be? As for putting them in county categories, the only issue I have is that if all the cemeteries were categorised under both counties and cities, it seems like it would be really crowded. So I tend to think that there shouldn't be too much repetition. And my argument for choosing one and being consistent with it is just so people can find them more easily.
To answer your question about seeing new categories that are created, I check the Recent Changes page frequently. When we were going all out creating all the counties in the US, I checked that page several times a day to make sure we were being consistent. Now I try to check at least every few days. If I see someone making categories that don't match our current system (which pretty much just applies to the regional categories, since those are the ones we've actually got rules in place for), I message them, and encourage them to join in the discussions here. Usually they do.
I agree that the rules should make it easier, not harder, for people to use the categories. And I think for the most part that we're succeeding with that. Other than what you've mentioned with the cemetery categories, are there particular rules/guidelines that you think could cause problems? Lavoie-74 10:37, 1 November 2012 (EDT)
Lianne is this a page that only those above supervisor have access to? You and Chris both different times have referenced pages like this (and I also found the special pages section) but whenever I click on this link or many of the others I get sent to the WikiTree home page. Just wondering if it is an issue with something on my end or just something I cannot really access. Thanks.Chelton-4 13:52, 2 November 2012 (EDT)
Oh, sorry Brian, I hadn't realised that that page was not viewable by anyone. I think that one is actually only WikiTree staff. It's not a problem on your end! I always forget which pages are ones most people can't see. Lavoie-74 18:50, 2 November 2012 (EDT)
Sorry it took so long to answer but I'm fighting a pretty nasty flu bug. The problem I have is that the guidelines seem (to me and I'm not always the sharpest knife in the drawer) seem arbitrary. I haven't done much category work here but just trying to follow the rules for those few I have done caused me some problems. So, I tried to figure out how they were necessary rules. I couldn't figure that out so I came here with my concerns. Another concern: Most people won't take the time (like I did) to read long instruction sheets. They will either ignore them and just do what they want, skim them and try to comply or just give up on using that what could be a very useful part of this site. Most users will fall into group three when there is so much in small print instructions. Any rule that is in place should therefore be examined upside down and sideways before it is made otherwise it shouldn't be made. Particularly when you can't enforce it. That bring us yet another concern that just enforcing the rules in place would take a lot more supervision then it seems to me is available in the future if category usage became popular. Categories are sort of hidden away now.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't make any rules. I'm just saying the small little rules like not making cemeteries a category or only putting cemeteries in city and state categories not counties.. rules like that are unnecessary at this time and therefore harmful. (Please note these are examples only.) I believe everyone on this project wants the best for the project and I think you are all amazing and the work done putting counties in all the states is award winning. I hope I have summarized my concerns so you can understand my deep misgivings as someone who has done years of work in categorization. It is my hope by communicating here that more concentration will be done in the overall vision and communicating that vision of usefulness to users and maybe in less thought at this time into these kind of rules. You've got to build the house before you place the furniture. Irvin-110 13:21, 4 November 2012 (EST)
So I have been thinking about this quite a bit and I honestly do not know what the right approach is. However I have seen a couple questions in the past few days from people asking advice on how to do exactly what we are discussing. I have referred them to this talk page and encouraged them to join in the discussion. I am wondering though if as we are mulling over what - if anything - to do if we could at least agree on a format that would allow people to continue to work and that could be adjusted later - if need be - based on the outcome of this discussion.
What I would propose is encouraging people to make a free space page for institutions like schools, churches, cemeteries, etc. but also letting them create a category for that institution. That category would then be nested under the town it is most closely related to. This to me seems like the simplest solution for if the institution is a category we can easily change the hierarchy "above" the institution without needing to do anything to anyone's profiles. For instance if a person creates a category for 'East Troy Cemetery' they would link it to the 'Troy Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania' category. Once a consensus is reached we can then add an additional link to the 'East Troy Cemetery' category that points them to the 'Pennsylvania Cemeteries' category or 'Crawford County Pennsylvania Cemeteries' category or whatever. This can be done without touching any of the profiles that are inside the 'East Troy Cemetery' category.
I would think this would work as long as there was not an objection to or reason for not having the institution be a category as well as a free page. Anyway was just thinking.Chelton-4 13:13, 12 November 2012 (EST)
Very wise, Brian. Thanks for moving things along.
Should we remove or revise the rule described here in the style guide?
This is where I wrote, "Don't categorize people with categories such as 'People married at ABC Church', 'Burials at XYZ Cemetery', or 'Alumni of EFG School'" and explain creating free-space profiles for churches, cemeteries, and schools and categorizing those free-space profiles instead.
We could rewrite this to explain how to categorize someone like McGhan-10 in Osage Cemetery, etc. If someone wants to take a stab at explaining how to do it, please do. Or we could remove the rule, or say it's suspended while we experiment. Whitten-1 08:16, 13 November 2012 (EST)
I will give this a step - unless someone gets to it first - in the morning as I do not think I will have time today. Also if it all helps I would be willing to take the plunge again and set up a conference call for the categorization group to get to know each other better and discuss some of these things. It seemed to work pretty well with the people that got together for the first time in the presidents group.Chelton-4 12:24, 13 November 2012 (EST)
Sorry again that illness forced me away. I do like the idea of a conference call. I will also write for the paragraphs for the style guide since I was the one with the objection. I have a lot to catch up on! Thanks to all who carried on in my absence. I'll give this my attention today. Irvin-110 10:43, 17 November 2012 (EST)
Brian (and all) - I also think a phone conference call would be most helpful, and, barring unexpected health problems, hope I could actually participate in this one. In any event, it is inspiring to see all that you folks have accomplished and continue to do.Keith Baker 10:45, 18 November 2012 (EST)
Does any one time/date work better. I know with the holidays coming up things will get a little messy. I am game to go between Thanksgiving and Christmas but also understand it may be simpler to wait until after the new year. Thoughts? I will also try to message everyone about this, so if I miss you or you here that I have missed someone please ask them to respond here or to me personally. Thanks. Chelton-4 13:43, 19 November 2012 (EST)
I have written the changes for the style guide. Are we on for a telephone conference now that the holidays are over? Irvin-110
Lianne just posted a interest request over in the G2G for having a meeting now that the holidays are over. I really do apologize for not following up with everyone on where things were left on the original plan for a call. I really dropped the ball on that one. The link to the G2G post is Chelton-4 08:24, 10 January 2013 (EST)

Categorization Philosophy

Shared "informative" pages for our ancestors.
A source for linking ancestors with a shared history.
A means of linking to additional pages with more details.
A research tool in finding information for our ancestors.

Informative pages? Thank you, Lechner-18 13:16, 1 December 2012 (EST)

Michael - I think your work in these Categorization fields is great! I've looked at your profile as well as a few of those you are Managing. I sincerely appreciate your attention to detail and documentation you apply. Outstanding! I don't know that you or others will agree, but my thinking is that few contributors to the WikiTree will be able to reach the level of sub-categorization that you are providing. Please do not intepret this comment as being critical of your work. It is merely my thought that much of what you are doing will not be well-utilized for what may be a long, long time to come. Even if correct, that in no way diminishes the value of your work, for which I thank you. Keith Baker 13:35, 1 December 2012 (EST)

Historically significant ships

Many of us have ancestors who either went to another continent or came from one. In the search for your roots it's likely you end up looking for clues in passengerlists. Some ports are well known for their arrivals of fortuneseekers, like Ellis Island and some ships became famous, like the Mayflower. The Holland America Line played a big role in relocating Europeans from 1873 to 1978. Conditions weren't always very good and many died from all kinds of deceases. These people got a grave at sea and weren't always registered at the place of arrival. What do you think of the idea to start a category for this. I was thinking along the line of: {Continent A to Continent B} : {Port of Departure}/{Port of Arrival} : {Ship + year of departure} Grifhorst-1 04:23, 8 October 2012 (EDT)

Started Great Migration Ships to assist new user's group for Puritan Great Migration we can keep this by itself a sub category or expand it. May be too many ships for just this one page? These can be split out later if/when necessary. See also: Category:Category Style Guides (Renamed to Category:Styles and Standards). Lechner-18 19:51, 20 November 2012 (EST)

Military Categorization

We're still trying to work this out! Join us at "What are examples of military categorization?" in G2G. Whitten-1 13:08, 8 August 2012 (EDT)

Hierarchy for free-space profiles of churches, schools, cemeteries, etc.

I am wondering what the feeling is for creating a category structure under for instance Cemeteries. Do we create a full blown structure like we have in the regions area. i.e. "Category:Pennsylvania Cemeteries", "Category:Crawford County, Pennsylvania Cemeteries", "Category:Titusville, Pennsylvania Cemeteries". This is how I started to put things together - and it seems to be how Wikipedia does things - but I wanted to clarify this was the proper procedure before going any further.Chelton-4 07:16, 31 July 2012 (EDT)

Sorry for being slow to respond this. I started notes on it on the Category Names style page. Is "Pennsylvania Cemeteries" narrow enough? I'm inclined to think it is, since you'll be putting the cemetery profiles under their city or town as well. For example, a cemetery in Titusville, Pennsylvania, will be in the "Titusville, Pennsylvania" regional category. Does it also need to be in "Titusville, Pennsylvania Cemeteries" instead of just "Pennsylvania Cemeteries"? Why have that extra local cemeteries subcategory? It's not like people would be using our categories as a reference for all the cemeteries in a given area because they want to visit them or something like that. Much easier to use Google Maps. Whitten-1 17:56, 6 August 2012 (EDT)
If people disagree ... I also want to bring up a tiny grammar question. Is it "Titusville, Pennsylvania Cemeteries" or "Titusville, Pennsylvania, Cemeteries" (note the second comma) or "Cemeteries in Titusville, Pennsylvania"? I know Lianne voted against the second comma by creating categories such as "Winnipeg, Manitoba Cemeteries". I see that Wikipedia has categories such as "Churches in Windsor, Ontario" so the second comma question is avoided there. Thoughts? Whitten-1 17:56, 6 August 2012 (EDT)
I have no problem doing just the state. I think the only reason I drilled all the way down was that on some the find of grave sites the include at a minimum the state and county when doing searches and that made sense to me. I could see maybe doing down to the county level might make it easier to find things but I think if I was looking to see if a category existed for a given cemetery I would be more likely to look for it through "location" side of Categories rather than the cemetery side. I honestly have been arguing with myself whether we need a separate stand alone "cemetery", "church" or "school" category. Just seems like they would be a subcategory under each county and possibly be under the place.
Okay did not want to delete my previous thoughts but realized it was leading me in a different direction - sorry. If we eventually have categories for all the cities, towns, etc., I would think that most people would expect to see a category for cemeteries, schools, churches, etc. under each town so how do you indicate to them that they will find that information under counties? Do you create links in the category description? That would seem like the simplest solution, but then we would be back to the question I raised earlier about how do you get the lay person to create categories in this way. So I agree that state but probably county level is more than adequate for these types of institutions. Just curious about the logistics. Chelton-4 19:32, 6 August 2012 (EDT)
We might have someone new to help to work through these cemetery categorization issues. See Sheri Bush's question in G2G. Whitten-1 09:10, 8 August 2012 (EDT)
I didn't mean to vote against the second comma by creating Category:Winnipeg, Manitoba Cemeteries! I only created that one becuase at the time that's the format other people were using. It's not really grammatically correct, though. I'm in favour of the format Category:Cemeteries in Winnipeg, Manitoba (or just Manitoba, if we choose not to get that specific, though I think in western Canada, what with the lack of counties, including the city or RM makes more sense). Lavoie-74 14:53, 8 August 2012 (EDT)
I know this has been sitting and perculating for awhile but does anyone have any strong feeling one way or the other as to how to proceed? Do we want to organize cemeteries, churches, schools, etc down to the county level or is the state level far enough? I can honestly see it both ways. As a stand alone category (i.e. Pennsylvania Cemeteries or Crawford County, Pennsylvania Cemeteries) I think maybe the state is far enough as I would imagine most people will be looking for and categorizing their "institution" under the county or city in the regional categories so do we need to go that far in the "institutional" categories? Any thoughts?Chelton-4 06:37, 30 August 2012 (EDT)
OK ... this has sat for a few weeks. I think it's decided. We'll use categories such as Category: Iowa, Cemeteries, i.e. with no county. I put a summary on the style page and answered a question about this in G2G. In a couple days we should delete this section on the Talk page so it doesn't confuse future visitors. Whitten-1 08:23, 21 September 2012 (EDT)
Thank you Chris for directing me to this page, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in listing cemeteries at the state level. I haven't used a talk page before so I hope I'm using it correctly.
I have been an volunteer editor at (Open directory project) for years and our entire goal on that project to categorize the internet. So, I'm trying to take off my dmoz hat and put on my wikitree hat but some of my experience might be useful and I hope I'm clear on the differences. If I'm not please set me straight. I don't mind correction at all.
I'm trying to understand why you would want use a state wide category for what are LOCAL institutions where physical presence is important. I think when you are making cats you should first look at their usefulness to someone who would click on them. You are, after all, asking your users to do additional work of putting that statewide cat into their text boxes. If nothing useful can come out of doing even that small amount of additional work you are going to find it will not only discourage users from doing it, it might stop them in the future from considering including any cats at all.
So, let's ask ourselves how is a statewide list of cemeteries (or institutions like high schools etc) useful? This is where I'm trying to get a grasp on what you are institutionalizing now. This is particularly important when you consider common naming conventions for cemeteries and institutions like high schools. I'm afraid you are setting yourself up for having in the future dozens of same named cemeteries on a endlessly long statewide list making that list not of any practical use. For example: I live in the state of Georgia and Georgia dearly loves their Baptist Churches many (if not most) which have their own cemetery. In my small town of 4,000 there are at least twelve named Baptist Churches. If only twenty percent of those churches statewide (most using common names) had a cemetery we would be listing many dozens of same named cemeteries at the state level. Of what use would such a list be? Leaving behind Church named cemeteries have you ever put "Evergreen Cemetery" into a state like California or Pennsylvania and seen how many cemeteries are so named? What help is it to the user to know that there are ten Evergreen cemeteries in a state with as much area as California or Pennsylvania?
On the other hand, if we discouraged categorizing local institutions at a statewide level and encouraged listing in cities and counties we might find cemetery cats very useful. Isn't it useful to know what other cemeteries are located physically near to where our ancestors lived? If we can't find them in one cemetery perhaps we can find them in another close by. This is an advantage that a statewide list does not have. What use is it to me to scroll through a long list of cemeteries in Florida if my ancestor is buried in Miami and most listings are hundreds of miles away in Central and North Florida? Surely most of us know what area our ancestors lived in each state.
I think when you are making decisions today that have long range implications we need to make certain that first that our cats are useful and useable when they are widely implemented. Usually we find when categorizing the more narrow cat (especially when physical presence is an important key) are much more useful to users. Irvin-110 12:39, 22 October 2012 (EDT)
Hi Gail. Welcome to the Categorization Project! I agree with you. I guess I never spoke specifically before on this issue in the US, but by county sounds logical. For Canada, I definitely think it should be by city/town/RM. Lavoie-74 13:42, 23 October 2012 (EDT)
Hi Gail. Honestly I can argue this point either way and see the validity of it. I think that what this ultimately comes down to is what kind of scale of usage do we see occurring with these categories. For instance if you look on Wikipedia they do all their cemeteries at the state level except for the major cities, but I would think that we will have a much higher category use rate for cemeteries than Wikipedia. But if you go in the other direction how close is too close. For instance in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, I know of at least two Woodlawn cemeteries that are probably no more than 15 miles apart so you are going to end up with overlap regardless of the level you categorize.
Besides scale the other major factor - as mentioned - is use. How do we anticipate people looking for and then using the categories. I have gone back and forth on this in my mind and on these talk pages. I guess where I have finally ended up - for now and will happily convert if need be - is to look at things like this. Leave the categories for things like cemeteries at the state level. Yes you will end up with lots of repeated names but like with cities and townships that have the same name in the same state that can be dealt, with for instance you would have "Woodlawn Cemetery, Titusville, Pennsylvania" and "Woodlawn Cemetery, Troy Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania" and "Woodlawn Cemetery, Williamsport, Pennsylvania" or something like that. This in my mind while potentially being a long list is handy from the stand point of I may not know what county or town the cemetery is in but I have a name for the cemetery and can narrow it down from there. Since cemeteries, schools, etc. are articles and not categories, it also gives us the ability to categorize them regionally as well. For instance if I am talking about Woodlawn cemetery in Titusville, I would categorize it as a "Pennsylvania cemetery" and for the city of "Titusville, Pennsylvania". So you are getting a master list of cemeteries per state and a regional categorization.
This is really where I have been hung up the most when it comes to categorizing this type of "place". Which are we doing are we 1. categorizing it by region (Titusville, Pennsylvania), 2. categorizing by type with minimal regional association (Pennsylvania Cemeteries), 3. categorizing by type with regional classification (Crawford County, Pennsylvania Cemeteries or Titusville, Pennsylvania Cemeteries), or 4. some combination of the 3 types just named. It feels like we are aiming for a combination of Number 1 and Number 3, and I guess my question is whether that is redundant or not. I honestly do not know. I agree with all of you that I would rather get it as close as possible to correct now so it will be easier for others to adopt and mean less work in the future I just am not sure what that looks like. Whatever we decide we need to make sure that we have a really clear description and examples on the style guide - which already has a great start to it (thanks Chris and Lianne) - and also be pointing people directly to the style guide so they understand how things are to work. Otherwise we will end up with people creating categories however and wherever it seems right to them - like I started doing once upon a time.
As I said I am completely open to whatever the group decides. I just wanted to try to explain how I came "to peace" with the way it seemed like we were heading with these types of categories. The ones that pertain primarily to "free space profiles" I am coming to realize are a unique challenge. They share a Regional structure with the people profiles but after that they divert and I think that is what we are trying to determine is how to have these two different but similar entities work together in a simple straightforward way without creating confusion or duplicate work. Will stop rambling now.Chelton-4 15:41, 23 October 2012 (EDT)
While I'm somewhat an old hand at categorization I'm very new to Wiki's so I have been spending some hours researching for the past few days on Categorization in Wiki's to see if they are different. I found this page and the site interesting. I think most of the points made on this page are "spot on". Categories should always be useful, contain content...but not too much content.
In addition to what I wrote before I think you need to think about how you are going to instruct future users about what you would prefer that they do. Instructions need to be simple, easy to remember and make COMMON sense. If you decide to go ahead with a preference for local/state listings (leaving out nearby counties) I think the instructions alone for that preference will be awkward.
I have to go but I didn't want to leave these replies just hanging any longer. Irvin-110 14:58, 25 October 2012 (EDT)

So I know we are doing things at the state level for these topics - have to go back and fix a few old "mistakes" but I just ran into another related conundrum. Under the schools category we have high schools, colleges, universities, middle schools, homeschoolers, "state name" schools, etc. When I look at this my first question is where to even start looking. There are so many options so where do you begin. Should all schools regardless type (college, high school, elementary, etc.) be put under a "state name" schools category with no further definition? Should they be defined further once you access the state? Should the state not be the top level? We started a conversation elsewhere about next things to do and I really believe evaluating what we have and the hierarchies should be towards the top of the list. I know for me I find this kind of thing totally confusing. My personal feeling is if I am looking for schools I am going to be looking for the state first then break it down from there.

On a related question is there a way to group things on a category page? For instance say we have a Pennsylvania Schools category. When you access that category can we group the entries in there by college, high school, elementary school, etc. without creating categories for them? Is it even necessary or just list all the schools in one place - which would far and away be the simplest approach. Thoughts.Chelton-4 13:51, 19 October 2012 (EDT)

Good point, Brian. Right now it's rather inconsistent. The school pages I've made, I've just put under Universities, Elementary Schools, etc. But you're right: it probably makes more sense to have them under state/province, because that's where people will look. Also, that'll keep the number of schools in a category a bit more reasonable. There are a lot more high schools in general than there are schools in any one state or province! Not to mention the fact that the difference between colleges and universities is fuzzy, and country-dependent.
No, there isn't a way to group things on a category page; at least not nicely. I think we should just go by location and not have the distinction for type of school. (Just thought of another issue: what about K-8 schools? They're both/neither elementary schools and/nor middle schools!) Lavoie-74 14:47, 19 October 2012 (EDT)
Your last question is just another reason why the more I think about it categorizing all schools under the state only is probably the best way to go. The only real problem with that is things like charter schools or on-line schools where you can live in one state but the school is technically based in another state. Will somehow have to differentiate between a school you travel to for attendance and one where you are doing the work on-line. Would something like having a "Norwich University" and "Norwich University (on-line)" work? Norwich University would only exist under "Vermont Schools" but "Norwich University (on-line)" could exist under every state or country really. Or is this going into too much detail?
On a related note if we are doing things on a state level, what is the best way to get everyone on the same format. Do we contact the people who have used a different categorization and ask them to change to the new one? Or some other method?Chelton-4 07:00, 22 October 2012 (EDT)
Quick follow up. If we do go with this we will need to update the examples on the style page. And not to rehash an old conversation but this is my understanding of what would happen... We would not add a category of "Norwich University" to a person's profile, what we would do is add the category "Northfield, Vermont" and then on the person's profile have them link to a free space page for "Norwich University" (which itself would be categorized under "Vermont Schools" and "Northfield, Vermont"). So ultimately we for schools, churches, cemeteries, etc. we categorize by the town and link to a free space page about church, cemetery, school, etc. Does this sound right. I believe this is right but just trying to synthesize in my mind what we are discussing about schools and what we have on the style page. think I have it now.Chelton-4 07:11, 22 October 2012 (EDT)

Descendants of Historically Significant People

In thinking about and working with Historically Significant People I have started to wonder if there is a way through a badge(s) or through categories to allow people to indicate that they are a direct descendant of a Historically Significant Person. This seems like something people would be interested in but I am not sure so I thought I would throw it out here for discussion - and I also put it on the G2G.Chelton-4 12:16, 26 September 2012 (EDT)

I responded on G2G- "Oh, this is a great question. I guess its been assumed so long for the Euro Aristo's I didnt even think of this as a question. I guess I need to ask a more BASIC question, then... What is an HSA really? I mean, we have the Plantagenets... but every Plantagenet was not historically significant, just related. I am too... but believe me, I get no special treatment for it :p I have always assumed, perhaps wrongfully, and taken the HSA lines down to the 1700s (300 year restriction). I marked them all. I wasnt picky that this person did XYZ and therefore qualifies... it was more of a historically significant line, I guess... Maybe I am wrong. I need to go through my HSA's anyways, so maybe this is a good kick off question."Stough-48 23:17, 27 September 2012 (EDT)

Immigration categories

I'm doing a bit of cleanup on the immigration categories. We already had a sort of structure going that makes sense, so I'm just making it consistent: There are categories for people who migrated from one specific country to another specific country, eg. Category:Hungarian Immigrants to America. They can be a subcategory of a category for everyone coming from that country, and everyone going to that country, in this case Category: Hungary, Emigrants and Category:American Immigration. I'm moving them out of the general Immigration category so that it doesn't get cluttered. People can browse either by point of origin or point of immigration.

Also, keep in mind that categories for where people came from should use the word emigrants, not immigrants, since it's referring to people leaving! Lavoie-74 01:15, 1 December 2012 (EST)

Encouraging Use of Categories

It seemed useful to me that we would encourage users to start with defining categories by putting in a locality name on their profiles. My reasoning was that the one common thing every profile would have is a locality. Because I'm a visual learner I decided to make a help page and an FAQ page. Both (especially the FAQ) are still a work in progress. Because I wanted to use graphics I put them in my google docs. You can find them HERE and HERE. I realize that the downside for these help pages is that they are pretty much directed to North Americans. If you think they are useful I would appreciate some help with that problem.

It also occurred to me that examples are useful so I am in the process of building out Monroe County, Pennsylvania. This has led to an issue that I think we need to discuss and I'll be starting another topic on my concern as soon as I can get my thoughts in order. I hope everyone had a great holiday! Irvin-110 13:59, 6 January 2013 (EST)


I'm currently working on populating the "Shenandoah Valley Cunninghams genealogy" while populating the Cemeteries category.

I've noticed some inconsistencies in the way cemeteries are being categorized. I started out by building the cemetery category, "Category:Hearn Cemetery, Independence, Ohio" then within the Cemetery Category and linked it to the state cemetery "category:Ohio Cemeteries"; then went to the State Category and placed it in the Top Levels "Category:Ohio" "Category:Cemeteries" so all the Ohio State ones are this way (that I can see).

Then I noticed that on my West Virginia ones - someone starting putting them also in the city "Category:West Virginia Cemeteries" "Category:St. Marys, West Virginia" then placing the city into the County by "Category:Pleasants County, West Virginia". Which now ends up here "Category:United States of America" "Category:Southern US".

I went ahead and changed all the West Virginia ones to follow suit.. But now I'm wondering which way is preferable? Since now all the Ohio ones will now need to be changed if we are going to do the like the West Virginia ones. OR do I change all the West Virginia ones?Reynolds-2390 "Terra"

So if I understand correctly: the categories for cemeteries in Ohio are only in the Ohio Cemeteries category, whereas the West Virginia cemetery categories are in Category:West Virginia Cemeteries, and also in the relevant city/county categories? I think I like the West Virginia way better. That way people who are browsing the regional categories will also see the cemeteries that are relevant to their search. That's what I've been doing with mine. Eg. Cimetière de Saint-Boniface is in Category:Winnipeg, Manitoba and Category:Saint-Boniface, Manitoba, as well as Category:Manitoba Cemeteries.
I also think the state cemetery category should be in the state category, eg. Category:Ohio Cemeteries is a subcategory of Category:Ohio. This is being done inconsistently right now, too, since the West Virginia Cemeteries category is not within Category:West Virginia. Lavoie-74 10:53, 3 April 2013 (EDT)

Regional Categorization

Help me think this problem out: Place Names and Counties

It makes good sense to me that if locality names were spelled differently earlier in our history or completely changed their name at a point in time we would want to use the spelling or the place name of the time and make them a subcategory of the present day name.

I also understand that when there is CURRENTLY more than one locality with the same name in any state we should include the name of the county when naming the locality category. When I was working on building out Monroe County I would check wikipedia to see if there were other places in Pennsylvania with the same name TODAY. When there was I would go ahead and save all those localities while including the county as part of the name. I would also save the name of the locality category without the county name with a warning on the category page that this locality appears in Pennsylvania in more than one county and the county name should be included. (See: Jackson Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania and Jackson Township, Pennsylvania.

The problem comes when a locality has been around for centuries and the county in which it was located changed over the years. For example, Pennsylvania originally had only three counties. At some point, those original three were divided. Then divided again. And maybe even again. You could have the same locality, named and spelled the exact same way, but when reading historical literature or documents it would find itself at different times a part of different counties.

I have old deeds and documents that are over a hundred years old where a locality is named and the county is also included. But in today’s world that locality is now a part of a different county.

So, for a hypothetical example, if we had Shawnee in Pennsylvania in 1680 as a part of Bucks County, it then became part of Northampton County but in today’s world Shawnee would now be a part of Monroe County. When saving the locality Shawnee for the first time on a profile should we put it in Bucks, Northampton or Monroe County? I believe it would be fair to say that most localities that have been around since the revolution have found themselves in different counties then when they were first formed. With my genealogy work almost every locality I have documented has been a part of different counties at one time or another.

Having three different counties for one often tiny locality is problematic. It allows no continuation for the profiles we see listed there. It makes localities and the profiles they contain a hodge podge mess and not as useful as they could be for connecting trees. So my great great grandfather Amos could find himself in Bucks County, my great grandfather Amos the second would be in Northampton county and my grandfather Amos the third would be in Monroe County. And they all could have lived not only in the same town but the SAME HOUSE for most of their lives.

I think the only way to correct this “mess” is to ask that everyone put in the county category where their locality is NOW when saving a locality. The original county can be added as an option because it is less important to our organization and connecting our users with each other which should be the primary aim of using categories to begin with. That way we don’t have to worry about the date the locality was moved to a different county when categorizing profiles. If gggrandfather Amos had a son that died while a boy it does not mean I have to look up what year he died in relation to what county he should be in while saving a locality.

We can’t just ignore today’s political boundaries. If I was to want to research Shawnee I would go to the Monroe County Historical Association. The old property records are all found in Monroe County. I would also drive to Monroe County to find the church where he was buried. Therefore, we should make a rule that when saving the locality for the first time we should put it in the subcategory county where it is located today. That way we don’t have Shawnee only showing up in Northampton County when today that same piece of earth is located in Monroe. It can also show up in Northampton County but it MUST show up in Monroe. This seems to be somewhat different than what we are recommending in our help documentation.

Does this make sense? Irvin-110 17:09, 6 January 2013 (EST)

This definitely makes things more complicated. First I'll say, in this case, there's only one Shawnee, Pennsylvania, if I'm not mistaken. So there should just be Category:Shawnee, Pennsylvania, which would be a subcategory of all the counties it's been in.
When it's a name that refers to multiple places in one state, and it's been in multiple counties over the years, things get challenging. I don't really have an answer there. I haven't run into anything like this in my own categorisation; the worst I have to deal with is remembering when Winnipeg, Rupert's Land, turned into Winnipeg, Manitoba. Lavoie-74 02:00, 10 January 2013 (EST)
I have run into this "problem" several times and honestly did not think it was that big of a deal to deal with. The reason I say this is you have one locality that has shown up in multiple counties (or even states) over time.

One example is Category:Hodgenville%2C_Kentucky

In this situation Hodgenville was part of Hardin County originally but later became part of LaRue County. I put a note under the "Hodgenville, Kentucky" category indicating this change and then added "Hodgenville, Kentucky" as a subcategory of both Harding and LaRue Counties.

Now this would become a little more complicated with localities that currently share names in multiple counties. For instance, there is a Troy Township in both Crawford and Bradford Counties in 2013. So you would generally categorize them in this way 'Troy Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania' and 'Troy Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania'. So what do you do with the fact that once upon a time Crawford County did not exist and was part of Allegheny County? I am not sure that is a big deal anyway. For one thing, Troy Township may not (have to check) have existed before Crawford County was created. Second, what is the harm in following the same methodology as above? You just make a note in the Allegheny Category page and the Crawford County Page as to what happened and when in terms of creating the counties and then you set 'Troy Township, Crawford County, Pennsylvania' as a subcategory of both. It will look a little weird in showing up on the Allegheny County category page but that is why you include documentation on the page. By doing this it keeps all the people who lived in Hogdenville or Troy Township or whatever together for easy connecting.

I think this works as now you can trace the location from both directions in categories. If you know that your relative lived in Troy Township you can search for Troy Township in the "master" category list once you copy it into something like Excel or given the current structure you can start drill down through the country, and state then you could go either to Allegheny County or Crawford County and find the location you were looking for, and when you click on the link it takes you to the same location. There are still some other issues that potentially need to be dealt with when it comes to really early pioneers and where they lived but I think this works for the majority of situations we would encounter. Chelton-4 08:59, 10 January 2013 (EST)

My concern was with trying to get new users to actually start using regional categories. Categories will be most useful to our tree if we can actually get a good percentage of wikitreers to use them and to do that we need to explain in some sort of easy-to-follow steps how to do that. I'm still concerned that it is too complicated. I hope that concern is misplaced. Irvin-110 12:14, 17 January 2013 (EST)

City categories in state categories?

Originally, we were putting American city categories in the county categories and the state categories. So, Category:Fargo, North Dakota was in Category:North Dakota and Category:Cass County, North Dakota, which is itself also in Category:North Dakota. But lately I've seen Chris remove some cities from the state categories, which does make the state categories less crowded. The only downside is that someone who's browsing the categories needs to know their counties, ie. would have to know that Fargo is in Cass County, but that's not unreasonable. So, should we be switching to doing it that way? Lavoie-74 22:16, 24 July 2012 (EDT)

My personal feeling is to keep them under the counties just for consistency. I think the simplest way to help people know where to put things is with the style guides you are developing but also - if it is possible - some kind of search engine for categories. For instance, I never thought to look under cities for cemeteries, so I assumed there was not a category for that and created it under organizations - still not sure that is the right place for it. If there had been a way to search existing categories I might have found that other people had put them under cities and for consistency sake would have done the same. It is like with anything else people will look for things in the places they think they should be and if they are not there they will either not bother categorizing or create it where they think it should go. The easier it is for them to find the category they are looking for the more likely they will be to use it or follow the established pattern.
Another consideration is - and I do not know if this is possible - but is to have people as they have time create the skeleton structure for the categories. For instance, create a state category then populate it with all the counties, then populate it with all the cities, etc. It would mean a lot of work on the front end but it will make it more easy for others to adopt categories and they will be in a format that the group has decided is the most functional.
Sorry for rambling, I do that sometimes when writing. Chelton-4 15:03, 26 July 2012 (EDT)
Oh, the cities will definitely stay under the counties; my question was just whether or not they should also be directly in the state categories.
I agree with you that we should be creating the structure of the categories now. Some of us have been doing that, actually. For example, I created all the Canadian provinces and territories, and all the major cities/towns in Manitoba. Now I'm working on adding all the counties in North Dakota. I agree that this is helpful for getting people to use the categories. Lavoie-74 10:41, 27 July 2012 (EDT)
Should this then be the style rule that we put on Category Names: Put a city under the county (not the state) and put counties under states? By the way, did you see that Michael went gangbusters on this suggestion to pre-populate? See Category:North_Carolina. Whitten-1 10:06, 1 August 2012 (EDT)
I've added this to the Category Names page. Lavoie-74 14:55, 8 August 2012 (EDT)
Not meaning to ignore the Style Rule(s) you are establishing, but mightn't State Capitals and Mega-cities go directly into the State Category as well? The capitals are most often where vital statistics will be found for the decades and centuries that are searchable, and often have been of historic importance in the establishment of the State.Keith Baker 19:40, 14 August 2012 (MDT)
I can see your point of view and would not be against doing that but I wonder if it is not redundant in some ways or will become redundant. My understanding is that eventually there will be a search function for categories and if that is the case a lot of this hierarchy stuff we are working on will become redundant and only for oddballs like me who enjoy messing around with stuff like this. I think most people in their general use - myself included - will rely almost solely on the search function - look at how most people navigate Wikipedia for example. So I guess what I am wondering - and not sure what the answer is - is where is the balance of creating a functioning structure and overkill knowing much of what you create may become unnecessary once new tools are added and given the way people use things. Not sure.Chelton-4 11:06, 15 August 2012 (EDT)
And what is troubling about this at this stage of development, (especially without 'knowing' what search function(s) may become available for Categories, Free-Spaces, etc.), is that the argument you put forth here, is the very same as that which I have put forth in Military Units discussion on G2G and elsewhere. Look out, the split-pea soup maybe next. ;o) Keith Baker 11:42, 15 August 2012 (EDT)
Which is especially strange since I have not followed any of those conversations.  :)Chelton-4 12:13, 15 August 2012 (EDT)
My point being that I seem to be arguing against my own conclusions ?Keith Baker 12:32, 15 August 2012 (EDT)
Wait are you trying to imply that it is not normal to argue with yourself in public or semi-public places? That may explain the looks people give me when I am out and about. Huh. Chelton-4 15:29, 15 August 2012 (EDT)

Progress in regional category structure

Some of us have been creating a lot of empty categories, to make it easier for casual WikiTreers to use them. Let's see how we're doing! So far, I've verified that the following categories have all been created:

  • all the counties in England
  • all the countries in North America
  • all the provinces in Canada
  • all the states in the US
  • all the counties in North Dakota
  • all the counties in Montana

I think it would be awesome to have all the counties in the US created! Post here if you've created all the counties for a state or two. And if you know of any active WikiTreers from other countries who would know the best way to structure categories in their countries, please send them our way! Australia and The Netherlands are already coming along. :) Lavoie-74 17:24, 30 July 2012 (EDT)

Completed all counties in Pennsylvania and Delaware.Chelton-4 06:48, 31 July 2012 (EDT)
New York Chelton-4 15:01, 31 July 2012 (EDT)
Alabama Chelton-4 15:59, 31 July 2012 (EDT)
I finished the counties in Minnesota. Lavoie-74 16:08, 31 July 2012 (EDT)
And South Dakota. Lavoie-74 16:59, 31 July 2012 (EDT)
Arizona and Arkansas are done. Skipped Alaska for now as there is no county structure so some thought has to given to how to proceed here. Chelton-4 07:26, 1 August 2012 (EDT)
Michael did Category:North_Carolina. I did ... nothing. Whitten-1 10:10, 1 August 2012 (EDT)
California Chelton-4 06:37, 2 August 2012 (EDT)
Brian, re: Alaska, that state is divided into 18 boroughs, plus the unorganized borough. Those function similarly to counties. I'm thinking that's probably the best division there. Louisiana also doesn't have counties, but has parishes instead. I'll probably make those next. And Chris, don't worry, we know you do lots of other things! :) Lavoie-74 12:01, 2 August 2012 (EDT)
I've done the parishes of Louisiana, and the counties of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. The west coast is done! Lavoie-74 14:24, 2 August 2012 (EDT)
Also, Wyoming, Nevada, and Utah. Lavoie-74 15:09, 2 August 2012 (EDT)
And Hawaiʻi. Lavoie-74 15:57, 2 August 2012 (EDT)
Colorado counties done. Chelton-4 02:27, 4 August 2012 (EDT)
Connecticut counties done Chelton-4 08:23, 5 August 2012 (EDT)
Wisconsin counties are done. More than half the states are done now! (Including lots of big ones that have lots of counties!) Lavoie-74 15:51, 5 August 2012 (EDT)
Florida counties done Chelton-4 12:27, 6 August 2012 (EDT)
Lost momentum there for a little bit, try again. Georgia counties done.Chelton-4 13:00, 13 August 2012 (EDT)
Texas counties done! Umm, why would anyone split up a state into 254 counties? That's what I'd like to know. That's the state with the most counties, and the second most is Georgia, which Brian finished, so it can only get easier from here! Lavoie-74 16:20, 13 August 2012 (EDT)
Also, it looks like I had done the New Mexico counties before, and forgot to record that here. Lavoie-74 16:24, 13 August 2012 (EDT)
Illinois counties doneChelton-4 10:59, 15 August 2012 (EDT)
So I noticed something a while back and ignored it and now I am wondering if I should. I have noticed in several states that they have had a county, it went defunct for whatever reason, and then later they reused the name. I have just left them alone and not created a - for lack of a better term - historic version of the county. Is this what we want to do? And if not how do we want to differentiate between the modern and historic counties of the same name. Personally I think we should not differentiate besides to maybe make a note on the county category page, but that is just my opinion.Chelton-4 10:59, 15 August 2012 (EDT)
Hmm, that's an interesting problem. Are the county names reused in the same place, or somewhere else in the state? If it was in the same place (ie, the name just changed back and forth), it would just need a note on the category page. Otherwise... but I can't really think of a good way of differentiating. Lavoie-74 11:32, 15 August 2012 (EDT)
Most of the ones that I took note of the new county is not in the same place as the original county which is really the only thing giving me pause when trying to decide whether to ignore it or not. For instance if you look at Knox County in Illinois, the original Knox county eventually became Knox county in Indiana, and then they named a different area in Illinois Knox county. Now this one is not as bad as you could connect Knox County, Illinois with Knox County, Indiana but you still have to be able to differentiate between the modern and historical Knox Counties in Illinois. Just not sure what the right route is, especially since some of these "historical" counties were only around for a couple years. I am not sure it is something we have to address right now but it is a pretty safe bet that it will come up at some point. I will try to think of some other examples in the states I have done. I am sure there were some in Georgia.Chelton-4 12:22, 15 August 2012 (EDT)
Was not sure if it was okay to cut and paste this piece down to the historical section where it belongs - forgot it was there - but I continued this conversation down there to try to prevent further confusion.Chelton-4 12:43, 16 August 2012 (EDT)
Counties are done for Nebraska, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Lavoie-74 11:32, 15 August 2012 (EDT)
Indiana done. By my count it looks like 34 are done. Almost there. Chelton-4 15:31, 15 August 2012 (EDT)
Iowa, Kansas, and Michigan counties doneChelton-4 13:55, 16 August 2012 (EDT)
Another big one finally done Kentucky and Maryland (except Baltimore as noted below.) Chelton-4 07:19, 23 August 2012 (EDT)
So I skipped this one in Maryland until I had an answer to this question. Has anyone else run into independent cities? It happens with Baltimore in Maryland and most of the major cities in Virginia are treated the same way. Basically the cities are treated like counties. So how do we want the category to be labeled? Four options that I can see: "Batimore City County, Maryland", "Baltimore City, Maryland", "Baltimore, Maryland", or "City of Baltimore, Maryland". Often there is a county by the same name so we will have to differentiate between the two. Thoughts? Preference?Chelton-4 07:32, 23 August 2012 (EDT)
I've run into a few independent cities. I would just call it what it's usually called, so in this case Baltimore, Maryland. That would be a subcategory of Maryland, and Baltimore County, Maryland. I would only include "City" in the name if that's actually part of the name, as is the case with Carson City, Nevada (also an independent city). Lavoie-74 09:41, 23 August 2012 (EDT)
That is kind of what I thought but I am not going to include them as a subcategory of the "county" as they are considered basically a county and stand on their. I know this is especially true in Virginia where the cities act and are treated like counties. Just another weird governing structure. Or do you think they should be subcategories of the surrounding county even though they are not technically considered part of it.Chelton-4 11:27, 23 August 2012 (EDT)
That makes sense. Yeah, I'd say it only needs to be included if it's actually part of the county. Lavoie-74 12:35, 23 August 2012 (EDT)
Virginia counties done.Chelton-4 12:41, 27 August 2012 (EDT)
Missouri & Tennessee counties done.Chelton-4 15:56, 27 August 2012 (EDT)
Ohio & Mississippi counties done. Chelton-4 15:50, 28 August 2012 (EDT)
So I went through all the states and this is where we stand: Alaska (27), New Jersey (21), Oklahoma (77), South Carolina (46), and West Virginia (55) are all that is left. Five states and 226 counties. Not bad when you consider we have done 45 states and 2913 counties already. Off to Oklahoma. Chelton-4 15:50, 28 August 2012 (EDT)
Awesome! I just did Alaska! As soon as we're done I'll make an announcement on G2G. Hopefully this will encourage people to use the categories, since so much of the work has already been done. :) Lavoie-74 13:07, 29 August 2012 (EDT)
ALL DONE!!!Chelton-4 13:12, 29 August 2012 (EDT)
YAY! Lavoie-74 13:14, 29 August 2012 (EDT)

Do I dare ask what is next?  :) Chelton-4 13:20, 29 August 2012 (EDT)

Wow, Brian! I don't know which is more impressive: the volume of work you've churned out, or the fact of your asking for more! Nice Work! Keith Baker 14:01, 29 August 2012 (EDT)
I was just trying to keep up with Lianne, could not let her have all the fun.Chelton-4 06:40, 30 August 2012 (EDT)


So my understanding when dealing with townships is that they should basically be treated like a town, for instance Troy Township in Crawford County, Pennsylvania would be written "Category:Troy, Crawford County, Pennsylvania" - you would include the county since there is a town of Troy elsewhere in the state. I get that but I am running into a couple problems with this approach. First is that many - at least in Pennsylvania - of the townships have towns in them so would the towns be filed under a township subcategory or under the county? Second there are often - again this may only be in Pennsylvania - numerous other townships or towns that share the same name. This can be fairly easily dealt with I realize but it adds another degree of complexity to everything. So I am just wondering what the thoughts are on the best way to handle townships. I am not sure we can not include townships at all as there are some locations where the nearest town is miles away and it would seem awkward to attach a person or "free space" to it. I am just not sure. I hope I explained my dilemma properly if you are not sure what I am trying to get at please ask.Chelton-4 07:09, 31 July 2012 (EDT)

Apparently townships are different things in different places, which is what makes creating these standards so difficult. See Wikipedia: Township. I was thinking of townships as basically towns. But I see that that's not what they are everywhere... The important thing is that the system makes sense in the local area. I definitely think townships should be included when they're civil townships (ie. it actually means something more than just a random division of land). I'd like to hear other thoughts on this. Lavoie-74 10:58, 31 July 2012 (EDT)
Yeah it is complicated, especially in Pennsylvania. Basically - using Pennsylvania as the example - all the land in a state is subdivided into counties. Each county is subdivided into Townships, cities, or boroughs (primarily, there are exceptions). These are the "governance" levels in Pennsylvania, but with townships you will have towns with their own post offices, schools, etc or just a collection of houses; likewise within the larger cities you have neighborhoods which exist in a similar fashion. I guess it ultimately comes down to how people define where they live. For instance someone who lives Chestnut Hill will say they live in Chestnut Hill even though they are technically living in the city of Philadelphia, or I live in Lower Providence Township, but I would say I am from the town of Eagleville. In my mind, I think ultimately we will have to treat Cities and Townships as a layer that can be populated as is but also can have subcategories created as needed. This may be something that we have to create some text that is added to each category describing how it should be used and when subcategories should be created.Chelton-4 11:37, 31 July 2012 (EDT)
So does anybody have any opinions or thoughts about this? I know there was a little bit of discussion on the G2G board (follow Chris' link under "Historical Counties"). The reason I ask is we are making such good progress with populating the counties within the states, that it would be a shame to lose momentum populating the counties with towns, cities, townships, etc. if there is an intention to do that. Also personally I would like to try to figure something out just so that I do not have to go back and fix too many records as I am updating them with categories. It is not a problem to wait though as I would prefer to have a good solution that works rather than a gut reaction we later have to deal with. Chelton-4 12:40, 6 August 2012 (EDT)
Brian, sorry I haven't been participating in this. It's been over my head. As for whether to populate the counties with towns now, I do have some reservations. I worry that it creates a lot of empty categories. And it wouldn't actually stop someone from naming a town incorrectly; they could still do it, especially since we don't have a category search engine (something we could do, but not soon). On the other hand, if someone bothers to drill down through the state and county they'd find their town. I guess I don't have an opinion on this after all. :-) I do appreciate all the hard work you're putting in. Bravo! Whitten-1 15:47, 6 August 2012 (EDT)
The engineer in me wants to do something like that but I totally agree it would likely create a lot of empty categories that may never get used. I know that whatever we decide would get added to the style sheet, but I also wonder if there is a way to have an "in between step" or some other way to really call out to people as they are doing it that this is how you create the category and this is the style you use. Preferably even some kind of form that "forces" them to do things a certain way. That may be a thought... Create a "category request form" that is then forwarded to one of us on the categorization team and then we know the category is being created the way "we" would like it to be done and would cut done on a lot of the extraneous and duplicate categories that could be created. I know it impinges a little bit on the "freedom of the Wiki" but might the simplest solution in the long run.Chelton-4 16:07, 6 August 2012 (EDT)
Categories can always be moved and rearranged but we hate to have someone spend hours doing things the wrong way (and then spend hours fixing). One thing we can do is watch the feed of category changes. See (this may only work for Supervisors). Whitten-1 08:53, 7 August 2012 (EDT) P.S. Lianne is traveling this week and I'll be traveling after tomorrow, so both of us may be slow to respond here.
I'm back from vacation now. :) And as for what Chris said, yes, I watch the Recent Changes page regularly. I see every category that's created, and if I see people creating them without following the standards, I talk to them and point them to this group. That's how lots of us got here! :) Of course, once it gets really popular, I won't be able to keep up... Although with all the prepopulating we're doing now, maybe once it's popular people won't have to create as many new categories, so that would make watching them easier. Lavoie-74 14:59, 8 August 2012 (EDT)

Historical counties

I saw that some historical counties have been created with (historical) in the name. Those should just be named the same as present day categories. We can always add a little explanation to the page about its history. The problem with having historical in the name is that if current counties disappear, their categories would have to be changed to have historical in the name, which would be really inconvenient. Lavoie-74 16:11, 31 July 2012 (EDT)

That would have been me as you probably know. I thought things seemed to be going too smoothly today. Had not considered that aspect when dealing with defunct counties. They are all "corrected" now. Chelton-4 21:38, 31 July 2012 (EDT)
This came up in G2G too. Mike was doing it in North Carolina. See "City, Township, County, State... Is the Style / Format good enough to replicate?" Whitten-1 10:23, 1 August 2012 (EDT)
Okay I forgot we had this thread down here to talk about historical counties when I brought it up again the other day. The question I raised the other day is that I have found numerous cases where there is a defunct county and existing county within the same state that have the same name. So the question becomes how do you handle them especially if they do not represent the same location in the state. In this situation the approach outlined above - which I think was really good based on what we knew at the time - does not appear to work. The only solution I have been able to come up with is to create a "Defunct Counties" category under each state and place all the defunct categories there. We would still have to come up with a naming convention for how to handle the duplicate counties. I understand Lianne's point but I am starting to come back to the idea that any historical county should be called "historical" or "old". She is right it is going to create some work for people if a county is made defunct but I think in the long run for all the more often it happens it is probably going to be the best and cleanest solution. Thoughts?Chelton-4 12:41, 16 August 2012 (EDT)


I made Category:Hawaiʻi and the county subcategories. Now I want feedback on two items:

  1. I used the weird apostrophe-like thing in Hawaiʻi and Kauaʻi. That's how they're spelled in Hawaiian, and it seems to be kind of inconsistent in English. I'm in favour of keeping them in, but what are other people's thoughts?
  2. Honolulu is officially called the City and County of Honolulu, but I just called it Category: Honolulu, Hawaii. Is that ok with everyone? Lavoie-74 16:00, 2 August 2012 (EDT)
I like your decision on Honolulu. The apostrophe in Hawaiʻi ... I don't know. Is that what most people in Hawaii use right now? If so, we're probably obligated. But if a fair amount of people in Hawaii don't use the apostrophe, let's take the excuse not to do it. We want categories to be easy to use. How many people will be able to easily type "Category:Hawaiʻi? Whitten-1 18:12, 2 August 2012 (EDT)
I know what you mean. Hawaiʻi is definitely harder to type (I just copy and paste it every time). But when I was trying to decide how to spell it, I saw that on Wikipedia it's super inconsistent, and seems to be a big point of debate (see WikiProject Hawaii). I get the impression that Hawaiians spell it with the apostrophe thingy. I don't suppose you know of any Hawaiian WikiTreers we could ask? :) I'm generally of the opinion that people should be able to use the alphabet of the place they're researching; just like if you're doing Quebec genealogy the categories have French accents, I feel that people of Hawaiian ancestry would know how to type Hawaiʻi. Lavoie-74 10:58, 3 August 2012 (EDT)
It's tough. Usability has to be a concern with categories. They need to be as easy and intuitive as possible so that people can enter them without looking them up. I really have no idea if the inclusion of the apostrophe would be intuitive for Hawaiians. I'm sure it wouldn't be for people who want to categorize a free-space profile about a vacation. Ultimately, the former should outweigh the latter. In the meantime, I can't think of a single Hawaiian to ask. This is probably something that will end up debated and edited in the future. Hang loose. Whitten-1 09:36, 4 August 2012 (EDT)

What now?

I've been trying to think of what we can do next for the regional categories. Here are some ideas:

  • Add provinces/states/etc. for another country (this is tricky if you're not familiar with the country, since most of the English-speaking ones are done).
  • Create more city categories. Maybe capitals and largest cities?
  • Categorise profiles!! Add categories to the profiles on your own watchlist. Then try to find other profiles to do. I've been doing things like searching for "Winnipeg" across WikiTree, and then added Category:Winnipeg, Manitoba to all the Winnipegger profiles I find. This is easier with older places, which should have more Open profiles that you can edit.

Any other ideas? How can we get more people using the categories? Right now the regional categories are looking pretty sparse. Lavoie-74 14:42, 16 October 2012 (EDT)

Categorizing exisitng Profiles by Region is a habit I am trying to form. It will take a little time, practice and patience since I often do not have that information in mind as I land on a particular person's profile. But this is a good idea and should add a great deal to the W/T as we go along.Keith Baker 12:22, 17 October 2012 (EDT)
As I was perusing the list of Categories the other day - because I have no life - I noticed that there seemed to be a fair number of duplicate categories and/or categories that could have a better hierarchy applied to them. This may be something that could be looked at and clarified. I know for me my biggest hang up is there is no search engine or other simple reference for determining if a category already exists. I have actually copied the Category list out and put it into an excel spreadsheet so it is easier to find what I am looking for. So I guess what I am suggesting is thinking about a way for people to easily determine what categories already exist.
Another consideration is looking at the categories and hierarchies that already exist and make sure they are as intuitive and complete as we can make them. For instance I was working on the Lincoln profile and wanted to categorize him as a Illinois legislator and as a US Congressional Representative. I went to the professions category under people but there was no Politicians category or anything similar. Turns out there were two categories for US congressional representatives but they were both categorized under US History. It is things like this that make it difficult for me to find things and I have a pretty fair grasp of how things work so I can only imagine how hard it is for others. You would think either the IRS or Census or someone would have a nice categorized list of professions that we could use to better populate the "Professions" category. I am a big advocate of trying to do as much work for the users as possible ahead of time for two reasons: it means less clean up for us later and I think they will be more likely to use the categories if they have ready made ones. just some thoughts.Chelton-4 15:09, 17 October 2012 (EDT)
You're very right, Brian. The best way to get people using categories is to make them easy to use. I think we've done a good job of that with the Canadian and American regional categories, but we haven't really done anything about things like professions.Lavoie-74 20:36, 17 October 2012 (EDT)
I found a link to job categories on the Bureau of Labor website ( This is obviously way more detailed than we need but it looks like we could - if we want - go through and populate the major categories on the list in our hierarchy and then maybe add a note with a link on the professions page and on the style sheet encouraging people to look up their profession on the above listed website before creating a category. It would at least standardize things.Chelton-4 15:49, 23 October 2012 (EDT)

Central America and the Caribbean

I had created categories for all the countries in North America, and recently most of them were moved to Category:Central America and Category:Caribbean. Those could be helpful categories, much like the areas of the states like Category:Midwest, etc. But I am going to make Central America and Caribbean subcategories of North America, since all those countries are in fact part of North America. Does anyone have any other input on this? Lavoie-74 14:57, 20 November 2012 (EST)

Progress on the regional categories

I don't know how many people check this talk page anymore, since we're mostly on G2G, but I liked how we shared our progress here before when we were doing the US counties, and you can fit more detail on the talk page than on the participants list on the project page, so I'm just gonna put this here anyway. :) My progress recently is as follows:

Anyone else have some bragging to do? I know a couple of you have been creating crazy amounts of categories of US towns lately! Do share! Lavoie-74 01:54, 2 April 2013 (EDT)

Misc. Conversation

I just added "Using Categories" to the pull-down menu under Help. That should encourage some category use. That, and we've got about 100 new members coming in every day now that we've created the Guest Member program! I saw a Guest adding categories this morning without even being able to edit any profiles except her own. Whitten-1 11:33, 27 September 2012 (EDT)

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