Submissions/Categorization system strengths and pitfalls

From Wikimania 2011 • Haifa, Israel

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Title of the submission

Categorization system strengths and pitfalls

(on Wikipedia projects)

Type of submission

Presentation with panel afterwards (if needed).

Author of the submission


E-mail address or username (if username, please confirm email address in Special:Preferences)


Country of origin


Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)

Wikimedia Croatia

Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (please use no less than 300 words to describe your proposal)

Categorization system on Wikipedia arose from two needs:

  • to eliminate the need for manual making of lists of articles
  • to facilitate easy finding of related articles, to facilitate better structure/organization of articles

On big projects (like en Wikipedia) categorisation system is relatively easy to implement - it is pretty obvious which categories are needed, but what to do on small projects? To go with big system like Universal Decimal Classification, to make custom system or somewhere in between?

To allow empty categories at all, or to disallow them completely? Number of articles in categories? To limit them to two hundreds (200) as that number of articles is shown by default on one page, or to leave it unlimited?

From this two needs categorization system in some articles on at least two wikis (base analysis and conclusions originate from authors experience on his home wiki and en wikipedia, but examples of both strengths and pitfalls spans some ten wikipedia projects with whose languages the author is familiar) tend to become live organism on its own, and in that process lot of different dangers are noted, ranging from usage of categorisation system for unnecessary discrimination (separation of singers by color and race) or applying categories to live or dead people to push them in some inappropriate groups, with weak or no substantiation for that in article references, to giving articles of 100 or 200 hundred words with 20 or more categories.

Although experienced users (administrators) of Wikipedia can treat problems which arise with categories same as all other problems which arise every day in busy schedule of active administrator :), sharing of "best practices" can be of use because categorisation is actually not small thing, as if need arise to change categories for 1000 or more articles, that means as much edits on database, be it manual or bot executed, and overall structure of categories have to be well thought.

Track (People and Community/Knowledge and Collaboration/Infrastructure)

Wiki Culture and the Community

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  1. Vibhijain 07:15, 8 May 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Amir E. Aharoni
  3. Viatcheslav Ivanov
  4. Shovel 11:11, 25 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Krinkle 20:13, 31 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Waldir 22:37, 31 July 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Yakudza 20:02, 2 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]