Proposal:Rethink categorization and listing

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  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation


We have categories and we have lists. Why both? Because neither is satisfactory. We need better navigational methodology.


The current system requires editors to manually maintain categories and lists that are functionally equivalent to a set formed from existing sets. If you wanted to find all pages about mammals that lay eggs with the current system you would have to manually maintain an independent category or list that is functionally equivalent to set C created by applying a binary intersection operation on set A (all mammals) and set B (all animals that lay eggs). This has been quite widely recognized as conceptually unfit for taxonomic purposes and as doing a bad job, especially on Wikimedia Commons.

A system which can recognize and automate the process of categorizing pages that meet a user's search criteria quickly in real-time by applying binary set operations to existing categories would make the system complete in execution and in result (see also Proposal:Multilanguage categories).

A rather forbidding tool to do this that very few people know about does exist, but is not accessible to most users in its present form. A tool right on the navigation bar of every page that is obvious, intuitive and simple to use would be better.

Also we can turn lists into categories, by allowing for optional fields to be added to a category, so that many lists could then be turned into categories, and many categories could be displayed as lists.


Improving usability by improving means of navigation.

Key Questions

What would be the best taxonomic system? How would it be implemented? Do you need to design the taxonomy before the implementation, or does it evolve within the constraints of what is provided (as at present)?

Potential Costs

Possibly complicated additions to Mediawiki, re-education, massive effort restructuring of categorization, cost of running searches.


Community Discussion

Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal talk:Rethink categorization and listing.

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