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This talk-page is for discussing category policy, and for general discussion on the categories.

General discussion Edit

This is taking foreverEdit

This is taking forever. The current (IMO logical) suggestions can be made in a preliminary catergory tree, so we can get underway categoring (or whatever the word is) all pages. besides, even if we make one mistake, we can allways edit. Nothing's written in stone. We should get started. -- Redge | Talk 16:20, 13 Sep 2004 (CEST)

I've created a preliminary version in the main article. This should serve to clarify this discussion and help draw out more discussion so this proces will be finished this century. -- Redge | Talk 15:55, 1 Oct 2004 (CEST)

I moved your suggestion to this page instead. IMO, the article itself should be reserved for the final version to avoid confusion. -- Cid Highwind 16:02, 1 Oct 2004 (CEST)

Fundamental CategoriesEdit

So, first things first, then. What should the fundamental categories (those at the top (or bottom, depending on how you view it) of the tree) be? I think they should follow the same setup as the current Main Page divisions:

  • People
  • Society and Culture
  • Science and Technology
  • Space Travel and Hardware
  • Around the Universe (this would include the Timeline)
  • Meta-Trek (this can encompass Episodes and Movies, Other Sources, and the Production Crew section of People)

This would only leave Reference Tables uncovered - that should get a category of its own, but not a fundamental one.

I was aiming for something snappier, like "People, Places, Races, Ships"... but it wasn't 'inclusive' enough. :D -- Michael Warren | Talk 03:00, Sep 3, 2004 (CEST)

That looks good to start with, Michael. I would suggest calling the last one Production Information. I've never liked the term "Meta-Trek", to be honest.
Something that's important to mention is that articles are allowed to be included in multiple categories. Therefore, an article for Captain Sisko might be listed in Category:Main character and Category:Starfleet officer.
I'd also suggest we have a single overriding category for "Episode" and a single overriding category for "Timeline". For the former, it might make sense to break them down by series, but we've already got a full listing of the series links thanks to the browser bar that's part of each episode page's template.
So, here's my fleshed-out idea for the starting category tree:
  • People
    • Main Characters
    • Recurring Characters
    • Guest Characters
    • Starfleet Officers
    • ...
  • Society and Culture
  • Science and Technology (includes "hardware")
  • Space Travel
    • Starships
    • Shuttlecraft
  • Around the Universe
  • Production Information
    • Actors and Actresses
    • Writers and Staff
    • Directors
I think that's about all for now. I'm sure I'll think of more ideas later on, of course... ;-) -- Dan Carlson | Talk 15:45, Sep 3, 2004 (CEST)
Yeah, as I say, it makes sense to follow the setup we have arranged on the Main Page at the moment, then filtering down into the subsections that have been set up in the same manner - that way we keep the same 'directory tree' that has already been established, allowing an easy replacement system as the categories roll out.
As for the episodes, I still think we should link them into the background area, divide by series then season. A single category would get rapidly overpopulated (of course, like the series/season pages at the moment, each episode can be categorised in both). -- Michael Warren | Talk 17:06, Sep 3, 2004 (CEST)

The simplest (and perhaps best) way, would be to create as head categories People, Around the Universe etc.., make Main Characters, Starships etc.. subcategories, and create seperate subcategories in those for each series: [[Category:TOS Recurring characters]], sub of Recurring Characters, sub of People. The easiest way to get this started would be to simply go to the main page and replace [[People]] with [[:Category:People]], and fan out from that. -- Redge | Talk 16:48, 3 Sep 2004 (CEST)

Which is what has already been suggested. Except that categories are not yet enabled. Replacing the Main Page classification now would a) be futile and b) risk losing the data we have already by cutting the pages adrift. Populate the categories first, then, once that is done to a sufficiently acceptable state, we can replace the standard headings. Don't start jumping the gun. The standard system has served us well so far. -- Michael Warren | Talk 16:57, Sep 3, 2004 (CEST)

I would take what you have suggested and modify it slightly:

  • Characters (would you think of all Xindi as "people"?)
  • Society and culture
  • Science and technology (incl. "space travel")
  • Around the universe
  • Production information
  • Reference
  • Memory Alpha (include community and fan stuff)

I think "Characters" might be preferred if the "Production information" is kept in its own section. Also, I would think the space ships are considered "technology" for the purpose of classification. —Mike 09:22, Sep 30, 2004 (CEST)

I don't know if a simple top-down approach is enough to get things going in this case. Perhaps we should collect all possible category suggestions in a "wishlist" and create a structure later? -- Cid Highwind 11:00, 1 Oct 2004 (CEST)
Well, I think that "beings" is preferable to "people" or "characters" then, but I like "characters" the least. I know that "locations" are still being discussed, but would there be any problems with starting to add category elements to technology and starships, and then use the categories special page to tweak the structure as it gets added to? There hasnt been any work on suggestions for categories in two months, maybe pushing forward and starting might give us momentum to get the larger structure organized? -- Captain Mike K. Bartel 18:47, 7 Dec 2004 (CET)
I strongly recommend to restrict it to a field test first, when we introduced the categories in MA/de we noticed quite a lot do not make sense and must be moved. Also on a side notice, when looking at the suggested categories I saw they are all in plural, again something which makes no sense. -- Kobi 19:18, 7 Dec 2004 (CET)

Singular vs. Plural category titlesEdit

Copied from somewhere else on this page:

Wikipedia uses both singular (to list "topics relating to", similar to "see also" sections) and plural category titles (to list "instances of", a.k.a. "list categories") - in our case "Planets" would be a list of all planets (but nothing else), while "Planet" could contain articles like planetary classification (but probably wouldn't link to each and every planet). We may choose a different naming convention, of course, but I think it makes sense if we are allowing "list categories" to exist. -- Cid Highwind 20:26, 2004 Dec 25 (CET)

We should come to an agreement here, soon - preferably before the first single categories suggested above are created. I like the convention of having plural titles for lists and singular titles for "related topics" and would like to see this implemented on MA as well. Does someone disagree? -- Cid Highwind 20:28, 2004 Dec 28 (CET)

I don't. I also agree that we should 'get a move on'. I haven't been participating in much of these discussions (I still had DNS troubles at the time). I think we need one big final election in the near future, and stick to it. I think we just have to come to some form of compromise. -- Harry 14:08, 30 Dec 2004 (CET)
I don't think "one big final election" is appropriate regarding categories (or even possible - we don't even know which general structure should be the result; it surely isn't a single tree, for example). By making one small step at a time, a consensus seems to be much easier to achieve. We can also use those first categories to test the usefulness of further categories or category structures.
Regarding the original topic: Any further comments regarding plural categories? Anyone? :) -- Cid Highwind 14:48, 2004 Dec 30 (CET)

Reminder - no new categories, pleaseEdit

I will answer to the discussion above later (when I have the time), but meanwhile... Could you please stop creating new categories and adding too many articles to the already existing ones? This discussion was started explicitly to come to an agreement before categories are created - let's just keep that in mind. The existing ones (Performers,TOS performers, TS1P, TS2P, TS3P) should be enough for testing purposes, and I also see some minor problems with them already. Thanks. -- Cid Highwind 09:47, 21 Dec 2004 (CET)

Categories appear to require a level of user consensus that seems unlikely to occur. I have come to wonder if they're even a good idea... -- Balok 00:36, 22 Dec 2004 (CET)
Categories don't really need this level of consensus, but that's the way it seems to be going. They are my preferred way of navigating, so I hope things loosen up soon so. Drhaggis 03:21, 27 Jan 2005 (CET)
The problem is, that there is concern that if articles are categorized in a haphazard manner, it will lead to extensive recategorizing and resorting with a possible loss of our pre-existing list structure. Add to the the reluctance to proliferate unnecessary "List Categories," which may cause extemely unnecessary article edits to every categorized article, should the category be found to violate a naming convention, which is still under discussion (as per the non-existant category tree). For example, if an unnecessary category is created and enabled, and contains 100 articles, and we find that we have to remove the category for whatever reason, thats 200 article edits (once to add and once to remove) that we would have to perform. This is stressful to the database size and server.
If you have a preference for a category tree structure, or the naming conventions for such (for example a subdivision like the "Meta Trek" portion or the cartogrpahy suggestions), enabling that suggestion might get a group of categories approved en masse. Just something to consider.
Otherwise, I'm sure that categories that have unanimous support could be pushed through in a few days, perhaps? We could propose a change in that procedure now that we've seen success: If a single category suggestion matches (as a "sibling") to a previously approved category -- in a sense its naming convention, possible supercategory location or subcategory containment has already been approved. Essentially, we're just asking that a new category is approved here before being implemented -- i think its a sensible precaution. -- Captain Mike K. Bartel 05:14, 27 Jan 2005 (CET)

Do we need to break this page up?Edit

MediaWiki warned me about editing this page; that some browsers might have trouble because it is so large. I have had no difficulty (using Firefox 1.0), but it would be a shame to lock someone out inadvertently. -- Balok 02:02, 28 Dec 2004 (CET)

The page is quite large, but all different sections are still active, so I see no easy way to archive some of the content at the moment. I also think that most modern browsers are able to handle this page size, and "section editing" (is that feature activated by default, I don't know?) should solve the problem for anyone else. Some of the content should be archived later, of course. -- Cid Highwind 20:21, 2004 Dec 28 (CET)
Perhaps the sections could be moved to subpages? Dma 02:18, 2 Jan 2005 (CET)
Section editing was not enabled for me, so I'm going to guess it's not enabled by default. If you want to edit by section and it's not enabled (you don't see little 'Edit' links to the right of each heading level), then go to the 'Misc settings' page on your preferences. It should be obvious which box to check. -- Balok 01:32, 6 Jan 2005 (CET)
Since the single category voting mechanism is used more often now, I've moved the large tree-suggestion section to Memory Alpha talk:Category tree/Tree suggestions, and moved the voting section to the top. It should make it easier to find for Archivists. I really like this voting scheme, so perhaps we can make a dedicated page for it? Something like Memory Alpha:Votes for Categories? -- Harry 20:08, 14 Jan 2005 (CET)
Perhaps simply Memory Alpha:Category suggestions -- Captain Mike K. Bartel 20:04, 15 Mar 2005 (GMT)

This policy should be repealed Edit

As seems obvious by the age of posts on this page, no one has seriously re-examined this policy — and for clarity, what I mean by "policy" is Memory Alpha:Category tree#Policy — in seven years. In that time, we've gone through maybe a dozen revisions of the MediaWiki software, as well as a major shift in the way Wikia regard categories. A number of admin on this site have also successfully set up bots which revolutionize the ease with which categories can be manipulated. In every way, this policy is quite outdated.

It's unenforceable
A maxim of good policy creation is that it must be enforceable. Because Wikia have deliberately made it so that new categories are automatically blue-linked, we can hardly blame users for accidentally creating a new category; they look exactly like created categories. (Unless, of course, you do something funky to your personal CSS — something we can't expect all users to do.)

I've had protracted discussions with Wikia Staff Dopp about this change and have been told, point blank, that Wikia believes that a category is created as soon as someone puts a page into it. To them, the act of attaching that category to the category tree is quite beside the point. Indeed, they've made some substantive backend changes to categories so that things like SMW and DPL now work with what — at the time this policy was formulated — would have been considered an uncreated category. For all intents and purposes, there is no longer a significant difference between a category that has been formally attached to the category tree (i.e. "created") and one that hasn't been (i.e. "uncreated"). This is why they've eliminated redlinks for categories; once a page gets assigned a category name, that category is, for all intents and purposes, created.

It's a flat lie
The rationale for the policy is as follows:

Because it is a labor-intensive process to remove or alter a category name once it exists, categories must be orphaned to be deleted as they cannot be redirected, all categories must be suggested and approved by a user consensus.

When you pick apart that sentence, you find it's all pretty much a lie. It's not a labor-intensive process to remove or alter a category name once it exists. Oh, sure, for a regular user it's a pain, but for an admin with a bot? Please, there's nothing easier than the category.py script. I've moved, renamed, and refactored tens of thousands of pages' categories at w:c:tardis. It's dead easy. Also categories don't have to be orphaned to be deleted. Maybe this was true once upon a time, and maybe it's still good practice now, but it's certainly not necessary. In any case, why would you need to delete a category that still had members, since the bot makes quick work of removing cats?

The stated rationale for this policy is simply a lie. If you're gonna keep this policy, you need to change the rationale. It's transparently false.

It's against basic wiki principles
What this policy of waiting a week — or, if you're lucky, 4 days — says to users is that the admin staff does not assume good faith. Moreover it prevents people from being bold, since they have to submit category names for inspection and pre-approval.

It stops creativity
By the time their idea gets the nod, the likelihood is that many people may not care anymore. The thing about creating a category tree is that it's like sculpting. You start in one corner and create a little bit. Then that bit leads you to a higher branch. Then that branch leads you still higher. It is a creative act, in exactly the same way that writing an article is.

By suggesting that people have to get each branch of the category tree approved, you're stopping the flow of creativity in its tracks, and inhibiting free design that will likely result in a much better and more detailed category tree.

And you need that around here. As things stand, your category tree is, in my opinion, quite unhelpful. Most of the categories are big, cumbersome affairs that have hundreds of articles in them. And it's not a category tree, but several. It's impossible to understand the overall structure by browsing alone. You have to know that there's a document called Memory Alpha:Category tree to get a sense of the underlying structure. And that's not a terribly great design, in my view.

Encouraging people to do the grunt work of creating categories and tagging individual articles with new categories will probably result in a number of "false starts" and imperfect category names. You might have to break out the bot to do a few cleanup runs. But you'll have the pages categorized. And that's worth more than having them categorized under the right name. You can haggle over the precise name of category:Crew of the USS Whatever later; you're not always going to find an editor enthusiastic and ready to place that category on the right pages. So what if he gets the nomenclature wrong? It's two minutes with a bot to fix it.

Conclusion
This policy is both unenforceable and antithetical to the spirit of wiki editing. It may have been appropriate at one time. when it genuinely required manual editing to solve category issues. Indeed, not to put too fine a point on it, but it may have been more necessary in 2004/5 when Star Trek was still on the air. Nowadays, neither condition obtains. Therefore, admin should abolish the policy and the consequent Memory Alpha:Category suggestions page and simply let people make their own additions to the category tree, in exactly the same way that articles are freely editable. It won't be nearly as chaotic as the current policy seems to suppose. Everyone has an interest in an orderly categorical structure. You might get a few users who don't "get it", but there will be no higher "error rate" in the category namespace than there is in main.
czechout@Wikia    04:04: Mon 04 Jun 2012 

That is way to long to even read, and it seems to be based on what you said on my talk page in the first place, but from what I did skim I would have to say you're grossly misinformed:
  • This policy has changed drastically as recently as February of last year. I would know, I'm the guy who did that with Cleanse.
  • All users don't have bots, and it's wrong of you to assume so, hence the reasoning is sound. Making hundreds of edits by hand to a category takes time and effort, and the only policy written for the few people who have a bot is the policy about bots.
  • We're clearly here because the policy was enforced, so it is therefor enforceable. I generally don't think we need categories with less than five pages in them, so one of the categories made was removed. Had anyone had an issue with the other one made beyond how it was done, I would have removed it as well upon learning of it for the same reason the other one was.
  • The assumption of good faith doesn't include assuming that users know what they're doing, or how for that matter, just that they think their edits are helpful. By not outright deleting all categories made without a suggestion, the assumption should be that categories created that way without any other issues will be retained, but further action like that from the user will be discouraged by pointing them to the policy.
  • If a user can't poke their head back in a week later, I don't want them creating categories, because those people are the ones likely to not know our polices and guidelines on formatting, naming conventions, POV, canon, etc. You might as well expect people to read thousands of characters about a policy that itself is only a few hundred long.
  • The overall design for the tree isn't that great, but it's far easier to understand than creating and running a bot is, so I'm going to side with the basic level of user interaction on this one. Also, categories tend to be created top down here, not bottom up, which might have been part of your problem.
  • Each branch doesn't need to be suggested separately. Even a suggestion about creating "Category X with subs" would be enough to create any number of sub categories when the parent is created, since users would have had time to see and question what subs would be created, though generally you shouldn't go more than a layer or two down without further notice. Some of the subcategories that have been made in the last year or so were created because while creating by hand other approved subcategories, I noticed a set of images or pages that would make another sub that wasn't easy to see before hand, which is why I tend to suggest the creation of subs like "A, B, and C" so if a "D" presents itself, it can be made.
You mentioned before on my talk page(?) before this was posted that you didn't think the whole policy needed to be dumped, but it seems that now you do, so I have to flat out reject everything you've said on the matter, instead of maybe discussing changes that could be made with you in a more "wiki-like" manner. - Archduk3 06:19, June 4, 2012 (UTC)
My thoughts, which might duplicate a few of Archduk's:
  • You speak of your conversations with Wikia about categories; what they think is completely irrelevant; we are the ones who ultimately decide policies and our method of operations here. They changed the redlinked categories on their own.
  • I don't have any bots, don't know how to use them, and currently don't care or have the time to learn how. If you or others do, great; but that doesn't mean the rest of us have to.
  • Archduk is right that assuming good faith doesn't mean assuming that people know what they are doing. Many users, for example, don't know about our POV for in universe articles, and create categories outside of it.
  • It's not "unenforceable", because we are here talking about it because it was enforced. Saying that is frankly an insult to those who are here and keep an eye out for things like that.
  • Also as Archduk said, if people don't want to hang around to discuss changes they want to make, I don't think they should be creating categories. Occasional editors are helpful, but only people who are interested in the community and maintaining this site should be making wholesale changes to how we are organized.
  • As I said already, if you want to make a major organizational change to categories and add/remove a few, you can do so in one proposal. It's not hard. 31dot 10:32, June 4, 2012 (UTC)

I never, ever said that I "didn't think the whole policy needed to be dumped". What I said was that I recognised the current situation as policy and that I would abide by it. That doesn't negate in any way my right to challenge and attempt to change current policy. Indeed 31dot told me to come here and question the policy, rather than continuing the discussion on my user talk page. Archduk3's "flat out reject[ion]" of this discussion is therefore based on a misconception of what I said. But maybe that's to be expected since he's said he couldn't be bothered to do anything more than skim my statements.

I've been trying to act as cordially as I can over the past day, but I have to now let free some of the frustration of dealing with you two. I tried to find out why the policy was as it was, and all I got from 31dot was that I was asking my questions in the wrong place, I shouldn't have used the word "damn" so much, and — here's the classic — my level of indentation violated policy! I go to the right place and what I get is that it's "just a copy" of what's already appeared on the user talk page and it's "to long to read". I also get the incredible statement that this policy has been "drastically" overhauled recently — when it's clear to anyone who reads the entirety of this page that the meat of this policy is materially the same now as it was in 2004/5.

All I wanted from any of this was an answer to some basic questions. Why does Memory Alpha:Category tree#Policy blatantly lie? Why is the rationale for this policy the same now as it was in 2004/5? Why are you telling people that changing a category is hard work when it isn't? Instead, you two have done everything in your power, including nitpicking the tiniest parts of my queries, or sometimes blatantly misrepresenting them, to avoid answering these questions.

Worse, you're suggesting that I'm advocating the creation of a second-class citizenry around here. But you're the ones who are doing that. You're saying that those of us who edit occasionally can't be "trusted" to do the right thing with categories. The degree to which that violates every principle of wiki editing is simply appalling. My jaw literally dropped when I read that, and I still can't quite believe that an admin on a wiki actually had the gall to say that, let alone apparently believe it.

Yanno, I would point out that this is a wiki about a barely-alive franchise. The last time Star Trek was on the air was when this wiki moved to Wikia. Fine, there's the occasional excitement of a budding new movie franchise, but basically, new, canonical Star Trek is a rarity these days. And your WikiStats absolutely show that. The overall shape of your editor count is one of fairly steady decline, with a bit of an exception, of course, in the summer of 2009. If I were you guys, cruisin' around with less than 200 registered editors, I wouldn't be quite so dismissive of people who occasionally drop by to help. Occasional help would be the most I could actually expect.

I'd also say that both of you are laboring under the false notion that creating, setting up and using a bot is hard work. Getting a bot up and running to handle category or template switches could easily be done in under an hour. The category script offers a series of prompts that make it probably the easiest aspect of bot use. Regardless of the outcome of this particular debate, if you guys ever change your minds about bots, I'll be happy to help, and I know sulfur has already done the tricky bit of creating a MA-specific setup (or, properly, family) file. There is absolutely no need for you guys to be scared of bots or to think there's something "nobler" about doing truly menial changes by hand. Why should you continue to take a horse when a plane and pilot are available?

Finally, even if the community rejects this proposal, I'd urge that the current policy be worded differently. At least believe me when I say that the current wording is transparently untruthful. Arguing that "it's true enough if you don't have a bot" doesn't quite work since the wiki has a bot policy. This implies that there are active bots here and that this community should therefore know better than to suggest something as ludicrous as "we restrict category creation because changing category names is hard work".
czechout@Wikia    16:08: Mon 04 Jun 2012 

Dump itEdit

Keep itEdit

  • Archduk3 06:19, June 4, 2012 (UTC)
  • Keep, while clarifying that policies are not decided by a formal vote, but by consensus. 31dot 10:19, June 4, 2012 (UTC)

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