Before your changes, the subcategories were properly sorted. You don't see all the subcategories on the first pages because Category:Maps contains unsorted pictures, while it should contains only pages and subcategories.
The solution is to sort the pictures, not to unsort the subcategories. --Juiced lemon 11:39, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
You should have noticed that you didn't change the number of subcategories displayed on the first page. When you unsort a subcategory and put it on the first page, the last subcategory of the first page goes away. --Juiced lemon 11:47, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm not vandalising the subcategories, I'm sorting them so that they show up on one page (not unsorting them; appending the appropriate sorting keyword after the leading space will ensure they are still in alphabetical order, and if all subcategories are sorted in this manner, all of them will appear on the first category page). I agree that in the long term, the images in the category should be sorted. (If you look through my edits, you will see that I was also in the process of doing that. I hope this doesn't count as vandalism in your book too.)
However, this process will be assisted by being able to get an overview of the subcategories without browsing through multiple pages. As an example of the sort of problems created by not being able to overview the subcategories, we have not one but two duplicate categories of Category:Religion maps. (I also cleaned the duplicates out and tagged them for deletion. Again, I hope you don't feel that this was vandalism as well.)
Sorry for my poor vocabulary. I have realized that my last assertion was wrong, since near all pictures are sorted into the letter I. However, I still think it was a curious idea to change the subcategories classement.
Generally, we put only noteworthy categories on top of the list, as special categories which are sorted according to criteria. For maps, the general form is “Category:Maps by <criteria>”, but we have also Category:Maps of countries. In particular, if you don't put Category:Maps by theme in a prominent place, you'll have duplicates. --Juiced lemon 13:37, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
Alright, glad we could resolve it and get things to a point where the discussion is rather moot, with all the categories showing on the first page. The space-prefix is something I've done in the past on Swedish Wikipedia, usually as a first step in a category cleanup process, and my experience is that it works quite well and helps a lot.
I do like to think of it as a temporary tool, since the goal is almost always to reduce the number of items in large categories, so now that the category is a single page, I have restored all the categories to sorted order (except the continent ones, which I presume there is consensus to keep before other subcategories, although I think, contrary to the commentator on the talk page, that there is a need to group them in a subcategory for continents). If you want to promote Maps by theme in the sorting order, I won't object. Generally, I think we should try to reduce the number of subcategories by grouping them in more broad subcategories which we would need to introduce.
I also found another duplicate, Category:Maps of the Oceans, a duplicate of Category:Maps of oceans. All dupes were created by the same user, so I asked them to be careful not to create more duplicates.
I would like to know what is a continent for categorization purposes in Commons. I talked in the village pump about a similar subject without result. --Juiced lemon 14:22, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
I don't know if there's an agreed system. Looking at en:Continent, it seems Category:Maps is currently applying the somewhat rare six-continent combined-America model with Oceania being used instead of Australia and with the addition of the Arctic (technically not a continent because it has no land mass). This might be convenient because it allows the Americas to be subdivided into North, Central, and South rather than wondering what to do with Central America in a split-America model. The main point is that I would like to get Maps of Africa, Maps of the Americas and so on into a subdirectory that collects them all. We can worry about the details of those subcategories later. I'm holding off since I've seen at least one voice against it, though. —LX (talk, contribs) 16:13, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
Category:Transport in America and some subcategories were badly named, so I took the opportunity to change to the seven-continent model, like in the first image in en:Continent. I suggest to do the same thing about the maps. --Juiced lemon 21:24, 21 December 2006 (UTC)