On 30/04/07, charles.r.matthews(a)ntlworld.com
Marc Riddell wrote
This is what I am asking for in WP. That is why
both the main and sub
categories need to be entered into each Article.
I recall you saying all this some time ago, a propos your own view of what
would be convenient. I'm not clear this actually convenient for most users
of Wikipedia, i.e. to have large chunks of nested categories made explicit.
Can you not just accept that the system doesn't revolve about your needs?
I am going to be blunt and agree here; I don't think "the category
system is fundamentally broken" can reasonably come from "because it
doesn't work the way I think it ought". My subtle attempts to intimate
this don't seem to have worked, and I want to be clear that I think
we're all barking up the wrong tree. There are flaws in our category
system, but this is not one of them.
This is the basic issue here. Marc thinks categories should work in a
way that conforms to his expectations - essentially, an
undifferentiated list of all things with attribute X. Currently,
categories are differentiated lists - topics split up into smaller
sublists with each page hopefully only appearing once in any given
If we change the current system, things will be convenient for Marc;
it will be more useful as a database. However, my experience is that
most of our readers aren't looking for a database - they're looking
for relatively focused, specific, categorisation for navigational
purposes, where a tightly topical category of 20-50 articles is
substantially more useful than a grand supercategory of 2000-5000.
(Yes, we could have the tight topical categories in Marc's model - but
at the cost of swamping pages with references to a huge number of
categories which are redundant to one degree or another, and just make
navigation that much more tricky for the user)
Somewhere down thread, the mystical expertise of librarians was
invoked. I am one, and I belive that tight categorisation is the way
to go. I feel that Marc's model, if implemented in the simple
quick-fix method of "just include parent and child categories in the
same article" will actually make our categorisation less useful for
general readers and editors, which in no way justifies the limited
benefit of being able to do fancy searches on articles by subject
We can get search in other ways; improving the methods we use to
search, having some pseudo-database functions we can do with
categories, would go a long way towards the desired effect.
Categorisation is, however, used by our readers, and we shouldn't
break it without a very pressing reason.
- Andrew Gray