Help talk:Categories


United States state categories

Categories such as Category:Illinois and Category:Illinois, United States have both been used by automated categorization processes. I have not yet pinned down which automation creates which appendage category; I'll put my observations here when I look into it more closely. A related question is which categorization format should be used? → "Illinois" or "Illinois, United States". The same guideline would be applicable to to other countries, such as provinces in Canada, states and territories in Australia, cantons in Switzerland, etc. I personally prefer the "Illinois, United States" as it is clearer to people outside the United States, just as "Vaud, Switzerland" would likely be clearer than "Vaud" for people living outside Switzerland. --ceyockey 20:40, 21 October 2008 (EDT)

Categories, Québec [30 October 2008]

This discussion has been moved from WeRelate talk:Watercooler

I see there has been some talk at User talk:Dallan about categories. I'm currently reorganizing the places under Québec. I had not considered that I may need to manually add categories. Category:Quebec, Canada is being automatically generated (showing up as red-linked although clicking on it does produce a page).

  1. Do I need to edit Category:Quebec, Canada so that it is a real page?
  2. I see some work has been done on Massachusetts categories, with pages being created for towns and counties. Should I be adding categories for Québec historical counties and towns as well as its current regional county municipality?--JBS66 07:20, 28 October 2008 (EDT)

Let's have this discussion at Help talk:Categories. User:Ceyockey started a discussion there. I haven't responded yet because I've been busy with merging, but I plan to respond tomorrow.--Dallan 00:34, 30 October 2008 (EDT)--JBS66 06:02, 30 October 2008 (EDT)

Automated category pages replaced by links to search results screens? [12 May 2015]

I'm not sure how useful the automated category pages are -- the ones for places, surnames, or surname-in-place that are added automatically to most pages. A link instead to an exact-match search results screen for the place, surname, or surname & place would show the same set of pages, but would allow the user to sort them by date-modified in addition to sorting them by title, and also provides additional data for the page rather than just the page title.

Also, someone raised a concern once that since so often the links to category pages at page bottom take people to generally-empty automated category pages, it dilutes the value of the few human-created and maintained category pages that we do have. People can't find the good category pages because they're lost in a sea of links to empty pages.

So lately I've been thinking about removing the automated categories replacing them with links to search-results screens for surname, place, and surname-in-place instead, leaving the category links area to contain just links to the real categories that people have created. What do you think?--Dallan 01:10, 31 October 2008 (EDT)

Sounds like a great idea. --Beth 09:07, 17 November 2008 (EST)

What's the status of this, please? jillaine 09:18, 13 July 2009 (EDT)
It seemed like a lower priority than the new GEDCOM import process, GEDCOM export, and a new data entry process, so I haven't done it yet.--Dallan 11:45, 15 July 2009 (EDT)
Read somewhere that these were removed. Help page doesn't reflect that. Please advise. Thanks. Jillaine 10:37, 12 May 2015 (UTC)

Category for military service, veterans of wars, etc. [21 July 2009]

I plan to setup categories for veterans, military service, etc. I need your opinions on what categories to establish. I just plan on creating categories as I find a need for one; but need to establish the hierarchy.

Should we have one main category for military service in the United States and subcategories for World War I veteran, WWII, Korea, etc.? Should veterans of the Revolutionary War be placed under this category?

Should one have a separate category for service in the Confederate States of America? What about the Republic of Texas? What if someone served in the French Expeditionary Force or the Foreign Legion?

Need some help; are their any military buffs on this site? --Beth 09:13, 17 November 2008 (EST)

Beth, did you ever move forward on this? (On your own?) jillaine 09:19, 13 July 2009 (EDT)

No, Jillaine, I did not. My two category wishes under military at this time are for WWII veterans and for people who served in the Confederate States of America, generally known as the CSA. We have a military category; should I just create a sub-category entitled World War II veterans and CSA? Or should the WWII veterans be further categorized into the specific branches, Army, Navy, Air Force, women's branches, etc? What about the CSA? I could use the pipe symbol after the category name to designate the company or unit. Also since WeRelate is an international site do we need to distinguish between the US military and other countries' militaries?

Jillaine, I have now added two categories #1 Category:Confederate States of America (parent category Category:Special Projects) and #2 subcategory Category:Military of the Confederate States of America; however adding the pipe symbol and regiment and unit after the category name doesn't seem to do diddly. Maybe I missed a step.--Beth 21:21, 21 July 2009 (EDT)
I don't know about the other questions, but I think we do need to distinguish between US and other countries.--Dallan 11:45, 15 July 2009 (EDT)

Place categorization proposal [10 February 2009]

Could you consider the following from a conversation I've had with User:Beth?

This would be part of an attempt to better separate Places from Sources, which are rather intermingled right now.

--ceyockey 05:03, 20 November 2008 (EST)

This seems like a good time and a place to talk about categories in general. I know you've been doing a lot of work in this area lately. I've been thinking about removing the automatically-generated surname and location categories because there are so many of them they drown out the user-created categories, which I think have more value. Here are two thoughts I've had: tell me which ones fit better with your proposal and the work you've been doing:

  • Option one is to remove the automatically-generated surname and place categories altogether and instead of surname and place category links at the bottom of pages, have links to search-results screens for that surname or that place. User-created categories would still remain.
  • Option two is to remove the automatically-generated surname categories and to keep the automatically-generated place categories but at a higher level: for the United States we would create a category for each county. For other countries it might be one category for each state. Really small countries would just get a single place category for the entire country.

What are your thoughts?--Dallan 13:17, 29 November 2008 (EST)

Dallan, would you be able to identify those "Surname in Place" pages that have been edited? For example, I've edited Category:Carter_in_Massachusetts and used that page as a form of "disambiguation" page. (Remember the Thomas Carter fiasco?). I may have done that in a few other areas as well. If you replace Surname in Place categories with searches (which I think is a good idea), I'd like the opportunity to move my edited content somewhere else. (Which of course raises another question: where should we put "disambiguation" pages? I really dislike that word.) Thanks! Trying to "get" Categories, jillaine 23:30, 9 February 2009 (EST)

Jillaine, regarding your question about identifying which surname categories have been edited, here's a way to tell. Take Person:Thomas Carter (3) as an example. See the categories at the bottom? The red-linked ones have been automatically created based upon the surname and place fields on the Person or Family page. This is what Dallan is proposing to do away with. However, see the Carter in Massachusetts one? That is the one that has been edited, and would remain. Another thing is that these edited categories show up in searches. If you do a search, Namespace:Category, exact match, sort by date, you'll see where User:Parsa has been editing surname category pages. The strange thing is, these pages will look almost identical to the non-edited pages! The main thing to look for is this at the top of the non-edited page: (There is currently no text in this page. To create the page, click on the Edit link above, or get help on editing pages.)--Jennifer (JBS66) 06:18, 10 February 2009 (EST)

Jennifer is right; I plan to keep any category page that's actually been created (a "blue" link instead of a "red" link). So you don't have to worry about your category page(s) going away.

Pertaining to our other conversation, the automatically-assigned surname-in-place categories seems like one of those ideas that didn't "catch on". I don't think categories are a bad idea, and they're the best thing I can think of to use for disambiguation, but I think having so many "red" links at the bottom of the pages due to automatically-assigned categories that have never been created causes people to ignore those few categories that have received human attention.

The way I think about categories is as an easy way to show a list of page titles together on one page. You could alternatively create an article that lists all of the page titles as well. But categories are more convenient, because when you add a link from the article to the category, the article automatically shows up in the list on the category page. If alternatively you used an article to list the pages, you'd have to edit the article to add the new page to the list.--Dallan 18:36, 10 February 2009 (EST)

Watchable category index [29 November 2008]

I have created WeRelate:Category index to provide a watchable Root+2 index to categories which can be expanded to Root+3 or beyond. This needs to be maintained manually, unfortunately. I think that any automated watchable view of the category structure would be useful, but I would class that as a 'nice to have' on the requirements listing. --ceyockey 05:25, 20 November 2008 (EST)

I've added this to the todo list.--Dallan 13:17, 29 November 2008 (EST)

Category:Research guides [23 July 2009]

Category:Research guides contains two types of content: original content created by WeRelate editors and sources that may be characterized as research guides. I think that these two, original content and not, should be separated into two different categories. One such category could be the current one, the other being Category:Original research guides placed under Category:Community. The two categories should cross-reference one another in their scope text. Comments on this proposal? --ceyockey 20:30, 21 November 2008 (EST)

That's fine, but I don't see us having much more in the way of research guides. Years ago, we thought there WeRelate would have a lot of them. But, we haven't had very many research guides published on this wiki. My feeling is that since has great research guides in wiki format, we should just link to them and not worry about recreating the wheel. Comments?--sq 23:20, 24 November 2008 (EST)

I took a look at and I think you are right — that resource has as its specific mission the development and sharing of research guides and specifically excludes the primary content of this site (see "Policy:Purpose_and_Appropriate_Topics#FamilySearch_Wiki_is_not..." page). Perhaps this non-overlap of content should be reinforced in a WeRelate Policy and we should retire the full set (or most) of research guides in favor of one or a handful of articles that provide access to the main compartments of --ceyockey 19:51, 25 November 2008 (EST)
I think that makes sense. Rather than removing the articles and possibly offending the contributors though, I think we can suggest to the contributors that they move their articles to the familysearch wiki if they want, but that they're also free to keep them here if they'd rather. Also, we should stop requesting that people write new research guides.--Dallan 13:17, 29 November 2008 (EST)

NOW I find this! ;-) I think I may have a different view, but I want to think before I type (this time). jillaine 08:44, 23 July 2009 (EDT)

I'd like to revive this discussion. Please see Category_talk:Research_guides. Thanks. jillaine 09:11, 23 July 2009 (EDT)

How Edit Categories on a Page [29 November 2008]

The Help text is missing some critical instructions:

1. WHERE does one enter the "Category:CategoryName" link? It says "just type it". WHERE?

Anywhere in the big text box; it doesn't matter where :-). The convention is to put the category links at the bottom.

2. How can I edit an existing category that is visible on an existing page. For example, I have a special page, Betz_in_Buffalo,_Erie,_New_York,_United_States. At the bottom of that page (yes, I know it's too long of a page; I'm still thinking about how to do that, but use the talk section THERE if you have advice.) Anyway, at the bottom of that page is a footer area called "Categories:" followed by three categories:

a) Betz surname (makes sense)
b) Buffalo, Erie, New York, United States (also makes sense)
c) Betz in New York

It's this last one that I want to change. I want to change it to read "Betz in Buffalo, Erie, New York". Short of that, I want to at least add the last to this list of categories. I don't understand from the help text how to add a category to

that list (I don't see a place on the edit screen for the page for adding or editing categories). 
These three categories are automatically generated. I'm thinking of removing these automatically-generated category links that show up at the bottom of every person and family page. Then all that would be left are the categories that you add manually, which I think would be better, since 99% of the automatically-generated category links lead to more-or-less worthless category pages. So I would ignore the automatically-generated categories and put the page into the category you want by adding
[[Category:Betz in Buffalo, Erie, New York]]
to the bottom of the page.

3. And then, lastly (for now), why doesn't my "Betz in New York" show up on the Surname in Place category page?

You have to edit the category page and add [[Category:Surname in place]] somewhere (anywhere :-) on the page.
heh heh. Now *that's* something I would expect to be automated! jillaine 20:58, 29 November 2008 (EST)

In search of simplicity, jillaine 14:17, 29 November 2008 (EST)

If you don't mind editing the help pages and adding the things you learn to them, I would greatly appreciate it! It will make them better for others.--Dallan 18:55, 29 November 2008 (EST)
Done. jillaine 20:58, 29 November 2008 (EST)

Help Page Needs Section for Automatic Categories [16 December 2008]

There's currently nothing on the Help page that describes which categories are automatically created, why they are so created, and how best to make use of them. jillaine 14:31, 29 November 2008 (EST)

That's true. The best explanation is, I'm not sure how best to make use of them. Like I say, I'm not sure that the automatically-generated categories are very helpful. I don't use categories a lot myself, but ceyockey does. The best way to use categories is still in a state of flux around here I'd say. I expect that as people use them more, that we'll figure out how best to use (and not use) them.--Dallan 18:55, 29 November 2008 (EST)
Are "Categories" like tags? I bet there's an existing conversation somewhere about this, but I also sense that perhaps this is less urgent than other topics. So I'll go back to merging. Dallan, you "sound" tired. jillaine 21:00, 29 November 2008 (EST)
Categories are similar to tags, if you are referring to what is described at Wikipedia:Tag (metadata). However, tags facilitate self-organization of information whereas categories impose an organization on information. There are advantages to both methods - but creating a system that takes full advantage of both methods isn't something I have seen, personally (though I might have seen it and not recognized it). The closest that we get to tags here are placenames and surnames; in the case of places, a tag is drawn from a corpus of placenames, which results in the creation of a potential category, which is why many place tags result in the addition of a red-link category to a page. Likewise with Surnames and the cross-product of surnames and placenames. In my experience, tags are more useful where there is sparse use of terms in a large concept space - such as the use of places and surnames here - while categories are more useful where there is broad use of terms in a small concept space - such as the different licensing schemes used for content here or general genealogical concepts or subjects for Sources. The beauty of tags is that they can proliferate and evolve to fill a large concept space; the drawback of tags is that it might be tough to discover a seldom used tag, reducing its utility in information retrieval. I'll stop there for now ... but there are a number of discussion threads that could be started around where best to use categories vs. tagging and how to accommodate tagging best in the context of the Wikimedia software platform - something I've not given much thought to but which should have some brain cells exerted against. --ceyockey 23:25, 15 December 2008 (EST)

Categories [22 August 2009]

I don't understand the difference between categories and tags; but I happen to love the idea of categories.

I believe that our categories may be useful to historians and genealogists involved in studies of families on various levels.

But on WeRelate if one types in the subcategory; the "parent category" is not automatically connected in some circumstances. Why is it necessary for me to manually enter all of the parent categories back to the Adam parent? --Beth 00:54, 13 July 2009 (EDT)

It's the way the MediaWiki (Wikipedia) software is set up. Why not enter just the subcategory?--Dallan 11:45, 15 July 2009 (EDT)
Because I hate red links. --Beth 16:38, 22 August 2009 (EDT)

Submitting proposal to change the higher level census categories [3 September 2009]

Because the state level category, example: category:1850 Alabama census and the state parent category, example: category:Pennsylvania census records both use the lower case "c" in the word census; I propose that we change the upper level categories, example category:U.S. Census and category:1860 U.S. Census to the lowercase "c" in the word census also. I have Amelia's okay, if I do the work on the project. If we change all of the census categories to uppercase; there are too many changes. For consistency and to help my feeble brain remember whether lowercase or uppercase, I request approval of this project. --Beth 17:18, 22 August 2009 (EDT)

It's fine with me. I agree it's difficult to remember which is which. Thank-you!--Dallan 15:13, 1 September 2009 (EDT)
Okay, I plan to start this project. My Plan is to start with the category:U.S. Census and first change all of the links to lower case and then actually change the category name to lower case. This will result in some new red links until I finish. --Beth 10:05, 3 September 2009 (EDT)
First stage completed. New category category:U.S. census. Old category deleted.--Beth 11:10, 3 September 2009 (EDT)

Categories for similar surnames [4 April 2013]

I am working on two families with very similar surnames which I am finding in 19th century censuses over a large area within western Ontario.

Can one make a single category of type "Surname in Place" to cover all three discovered spellings. How much the spelling of the surname is produced by the census enumerator and how much by the knowledge of the family is unknown.

Although these are not the surnames I am currently working on this could be called the "MacDonald--McDonald--M'Donald" problem. Similar Irish situations come to mind as well. <smile>

--goldenoldie 02:06, 16 January 2013 (EST)

I would not suggest creation of categories for "related" surnames without more specific definition of _related_. Further, I would not suggest creation of these _meta-categories_ alongside the more typical categories; better to have something like 'category:surname groups' with subcats. It would be useful if there were an equivalent to transclusion but for category contents, meaning one could then create a meta-category 'McDonald soundex', for instance, or 'Yockey historical', and have all the contents of the transcluded cats in the meta-cat without having to go and add the met-cat to each werelate record individually.

That being said, I think that the suggestion made in another thread that the search functionality serves the use case described is true here ... In principle. For the McDonald case, if you run a Category search on page titles using the exact/close/partial matching, you get back categories for McDonald, Mcdonald and McDONALD (which should be merged?). Running a keyword search with the same settings, you don't get additional surname categories, so that you have to do separate searches for 'MacDonald' and 'M'Donald'. Therefore, in practice, a search with relaxed matching won't serve the need expressed.

--ceyockey 07:42, 4 April 2013 (EDT)

Categories of places first, surnames second [7 May 2013]

I have been wondering about the benefits of organizing a set of categories that are based around places, rather than around surnames. The principal category in each group would be a state (say, in the United States or in a number of European countries) or a province (say, in Canada) or a county (say, in the United Kingdom}. Some countries are small enough not to have equivalent divisions.

The membership of each of the categories would be its towns and villages plus the smaller divisions of government within the state or province or county, together with all Persons where the geographical area is given as a place in their record, be it birth, marriage, death, burial or census or whatever.

This way a user could survey all the families who came from a specific area, allowing them to consider possible related lines or even possible duplications within families that might be caused by variations of spelling or by reporting different events in a Person's life. This organization of categories could act as a tool to expose one user's interests to others and broaden the WeRelate experience beyond their own family.

I accept that looking at this concept taking as one's root one large American state might be overpoweringly unwieldy. Its merits lie in looking at it from parts of the world with less representation in our membership.

Just thinking. --goldenoldie 06:35, 1 April 2013 (EDT)

I believe this could be better achieved through search, rather than categories. Categories requires that a user actively add the page to a set of categories based on a person's birth/marriage/death locations. With search, you can filter by namespace=Person, add a geographical area to the keywords field, and people with that area on their page will be returned. --Jennifer (JBS66) 09:44, 2 April 2013 (EDT)

I must be misunderstanding something. It seems that place-over-surname is already available categorically, such as Category:Surnames in Utah. --ceyockey 06:56, 4 April 2013 (EDT)

This might be [have been--now that surnames in place have been thrown out] useful for American States but if you want to survey people in any other part of the world there is no assistance. Currently I am working on a part of Scotland called Dumfries and Galloway. It covers three old counties and I am adding the [[Category:Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland]] to each place page as I edit them. I am also adding a parish level page so that settlements and cemeteries in a smaller set geographical area can be inspected together. I would like to add the same categories to all the Person and Family entries, but that feels like too much of an unautomated task.
The purpose in inspecting a places category is to see who lived there. Perhaps there are people with similar surnames: Clark and Clarke, Brown and Browne, McDonald and MacDonald and M'Donald (dropping the "c" was common before 1850), variations that came in from Gaelic, etc. Surnames can vary with whoever wrote them down and may change from one part of a family tree to another. A surname search within a place area might also point to more members of a wife's family who are yet to be discovered.
Place-over-surname would allow browsing rather than searching, and sometimes browsing will yield undiscovered facts. ----goldenoldie 02:41, 7 May 2013 (EDT)

Proposal to overhaul the Help:Categories page [12 May 2015]

To put it mildly - I think this page needs an overhaul! :) As it is, it contains too much outdated and incomplete information. Rather than open up discussions for each individual change, I would like to be bold and submit a new revision in it's entirety. We can go from there. Since there are so many watchers, I wanted to give everyone a heads up for what was coming. If you hate it ... but I hope you won't :) ... by all means say so. It can always be revised again or in the worst case, reverted. One of the areas that I may not be able to explain adequately is the resolution to the Surname-in-Place changes, so I may need some help there from the folks that lived through it. I was here during those years, but I didn't follow those discussion very closely. I am currently adding examples, so hopefully I will be done soon. Regards. --Cos1776 15:38, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Of course, I'm not averse, but perhaps you should create a draft on a user page of your own to begin with? For something like this - I think there's value in having the document under one person's stewardship until it reaches an overall useful state. I also think the original author should get the first go at making proposed edits. Just report back here (and/or the watercooler) when you're seeking review? --jrm03063 15:58, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Sure, I can do it that way. --Cos1776 16:25, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Status? Jillaine 10:38, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
Dont think the original author of the Help page got the ball rolling, and it was not pressing, so it faded from view. Environment has changed in your absence. Search function was improved, dramatically reducing the need for the labor intensive process of generating and maintaining Categories for generic groupings. As a result, I think overall interest in Categories has waned. --Cos1776 11:34, 12 May 2015 (UTC)