Commons:Categories for discussion/2011/09/Category:Ships by name

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Category:Ships by name[edit]

This is a general discussion on category names for military ship and not necessarily specific to this category name.

Many category names for older military ships are named with the suffix "(ship, date)", such as the one shown here Category:USS Cumberland (ship, 1842). This appears redundant for U.S. military ships and I suspect this is true for other countries as well. The fact that the category has the prefix "USS" already classifies it as a ship. I recommend going with just "Category:USS Cumberland (1842)" with "1842" being the date ship was commissioned to show difference between different ships with the name "Cumberland". This will streamline the category name and accomplish the same as the previous method. I know there have been some similar CfD discussions on this issue.

This discussion only applies to older ships prior to use of the ship class being built into the ship number as seen here Category:USS Enterprise (CVN-65). FieldMarine (talk) 15:44, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Commons is place where the images can be found for articles in separate Wikipedias. It has its own systems of categorising, sometimes different from those Wikipedias. By categorising thousands of ships it became clear that a standardised way of categorising makes images of ships easy to find. The simplest way is to use categories by the name as painted on the hull of a particular ship. Everybody can read it and find the images of most ships by that name. Regardless the prefix in the wikipedia where the description is given. No problem at all withe the prefix there, because there is no problem with the language. Unfortunately ships are named after politicians, flowers, mountains, colours, ghosts, activities, moral entities, whatsoever. So a simple solution was to add the fact that we are dealing with a category of a ship. In that case we could also get rid of the prefixes, because these prefixes were language dependant and had even different meaning per language. SS can be a sailing ship as well as a steamship. Steam by expansion machines or turbines? MV, MS, M/V and so on can not be red on the vessel itself. We discussed it, invited specialised users of en:Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Ships in the discussion. After all, we skipped the prefixes for most ships, not if it was part of the name of the ship. A few ships have. M.V. Lomonosov (ship, 1962), M/V American Tern
Only recently a solution came up for categories of ships with the same name. Please have a look Category:Columbia (ship) and Rotterdam (ship). Just a sigle image per ship per year of completion, that's all to recognise the ship you are looking for.
Naval ships don't have their name painted on the hull, but a pennant number. So a not specialised user, who wants to illustrate an article about a naval ship, has to find the images via that pennant number or the name of the ship, if known. In both cases he/she can be served via Category:Ships by pennant number or Category:Ships by name. There is no use at all for a prefix IN COMMONS !!!! as USS (exept e.g. a wooden hulk where she has it painted on the bow), HNLMS (Dutch), HMS (English) and so on. Used in local Wikipedia descriptions: perfect, no problem. But not in COMMONS.
Fishing ships have their license number painted on the bow or hull, seldom the name. For fishing vessels we have a Category:Fishing vessels by license number and Category:Ships by name. Have a look over there how the categorising was done. Categorising naval vessels can follow that system, as the license number has some resemblance with a pennant number. I made an example Category:Naval ships by pennant number. Perhaps better: Category:Naval vessels by pennant number.
Even worse is the use of prefixes for coastguard vessels. HMCS Summerside and USCGC Willow will have other prefixes when they get another job to do, even so USNS Mount Baker (T-AE-34). Please have a look at Category:Ships by name and realise that more than 10.000 ships can be found there without any prefix. What is the use of confusing prefixes in COMMONS, when we don't need them to find images for articles? --Stunteltje (talk) 18:50, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

I’m only referring to military ships that have USS or similar prefix. In these cases, I don't see how adding "Ship" to the suffix in the format "(ship, 1842)" adds value to distinguish this as a ship. That is already accomplished by the suffix so this is redundant, un-needed infomation. However, the "(1842)" as the date of the ship to distinguish between two ships with same name is helpful. To accomplish what is stated above about function of ship, etc. would be appropriate as information in the category description as I have done in this example Category:USS North Carolina (1820). Also, to distinguish between steam or sailing ships for ones with prefix "SS" can be better accomplished in sub-cats. Semper Fi! FieldMarine (talk) 22:00, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

I can appreciate not including the prefix such as HMS and SS. What I don't understand is: Why this system needs to be applied to all ships even ones with only a single use? If a second ship with the name were to come up, then the disambiguation can be accomplished at that time. I agree that Commons need not agree with the Wikipedias. Royalbroil 01:15, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Aren't you overlooking several points Stunteljte made? (1) Prefixes like SS, MV, RV, USS, HMS, HDNS, USCG, are language specific -- while this is an international project; (2) Prefixes like SS, MV, RV, USS, HMS, HDNS, USCG, are opaque, except to the cognoscenti; (3) Acronyms get dated, and can confuse even those who aren't Back when I was young the acronym DEW meant "Distant Early Warning", as in DEW Line, a line of long range radar stations in the far north. Fast forward a couple of decades and I tried to participate in some discussions of the cold war, and spent some time figuring out that no one understood the DEW to mean Distant Early Warning -- they all thought it meant "Directed Energy Weapons".
  • The category names dont just need to distinguish between different ships. A surprising number of ships are named after people. Having the name of the Category explicitly state that the category is about a ship is a great convenience.
  • Lots of ships go through several names. Many ships of the United States Navy were decommissioned from the Navy, then recommissioned into the US Coast Guard, retaining the same name, but with a different prefix, and different pennant number. Geo Swan (talk) 03:21, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
FieldMarine: You may be right. How many these redundant names are there? I've only checked "USS+ship", there's not so many of them. Now (suppose this discussion ends in support of your proposal) someone has to actually create new categories, move files, redirect old categories and update all {{commonscat}} links from all wikipedias. And you seem to be the only volunteer out there. It's all about available hours of volunteer work (your hours!). NVO (talk) 01:26, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
  • With regard to valuing volunteer hours... Organizing our images is important, and Stunteltje is knowledgable, patient, tactful, and has done a wonderful job of taking a lead in organizing our nautical images. Over the years I've spent hundreds of hours uploading nautical images, and over those years Stunteltje has probably spent at least as much time, possibly over a thousand hours in organizing our nautical images. It was Stuntletje who introduced me to Category:Ships by IMO number -- an excellent tool for organizing images of ships, and coping with ships that have gone through multiple names. Geo Swan (talk) 03:43, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Uploading images is only the first step in having a useful repository. Organizing, classifying, and categorizing those images is what really makes those images useful. I played no role in the initiative to use Category:Ships by name and the other categories Stunteltje mentioned. But I fully support this initiative. I believe the important part of this initiative is that we choose names that apply to all ships and ship-like vessels, and which do not require specialized knowledge of local naming conventions. Although it might seem like everyone knows what USS or HMS mean, not everyone does know. Worse, that are probably lots of people who think they know what the prefix means, and get it wrong.

    Lots of naming schema are possible. In some cases it is possible to come up with an alternate naming schema that is just as good as the one we are using. But, if a perfectly valid schema is in use, I wouldn't even consider replacing it with one that is merely just as good. Volunteers have already devoted a lot of time and energy in to the Category:Ships by name schema. Out of respect for the efforts of those who put in that effort, I suggest we defer to their schema, unless we find a schema that is markedly superior.

    Cheers! Geo Swan (talk) 02:44, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

All I’m recommending is a streamlined approach to the cat names of military ships by eliminating the redundant & unnecessary “ship” in the “name of ship (ship, date)” format. I’m still not clear what the purpose of “ship” does in the cat name for military ships. We know it’s a ship from the prefix. The real classifying about the functions or type of the ship should come from the subcats and/or the cat description. For military aircraft, it’s like saying, “F/A-18C Hornet (airplane, date)” instead of just Category:F/A-18C Hornet. Semper Fi! FieldMarine (talk) 03:47, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

  • I am glad to have you confirm that you merely meant to suggest a streamlined process. But actually, I don't think your suggestion will make things easier, if it were to be endorsed it would require undoing thousands of edits over the last few months.

    Now, repeating myself, your proposed schema isn't really markedly inferior, but, in my opinion, it isn't markedly superior either. So, given that your schema requires reverting thousands of edits it would not be worth adopting -- even if it was marginally superior to the current schema. There is no question that it won't save time. Geo Swan (talk) 04:10, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

Well, so far, I find that the "ships by name" upcoming de facto standard is proving itself; Stunteltje, Docu and others did a great job indeed. Now, in a good year time, we have around 10800 ships, still a few hundreds of thousands to go. The question here if we have to make an exception on the naming for the relatively few US military ships (they appear first as having the highest visibility and coverage). And do we have to make exceptions for military naming conventions of other countries ? I don't think so. Let's stop wasting time to save in some cases a word in the category name; we need a system. --Foroa (talk) 06:42, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

Maybe I'm just being particularly opaque today, but the explanations provided make no sense to me. Category names like Category:Disney Magic (ship, 1998) make no sense whatsoever. They're overly long and doubly or triply redundant. Powers (talk) 13:15, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

That's what we initially thought of a weird name like Category:De Zeven Provinciën but it did not last very long. You would be surprised how often ship name reoccur for movies, books, paintings, hotels, restaurants, ... --Foroa (talk) 14:39, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Just try to find the official name of the Titanic ship or a ship from 1885 with Victoria in its name. And we have less than 5 % of the database yet. --Foroa (talk) 17:01, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
  • How is Category:Disney Magic (ship, 1998) redundant? If someone recently sailed on the vessel, or recently saw an advertizement, one might remember this is vessel. Even something like Category:Disney Ocean Voyager might be the name of a movie. "Disney Magic" might be a themepark, or software suite. So the name you object to is not redundant at all. Geo Swan (talk) 20:13, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

It’ redundant because it’s not needed to identify this specific ship. The fact that it’s a ship, including the type of ship can be better accomplished in the subcats and/or the cat description. Semper Fi! FieldMarine (talk) 00:16, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

I oppose any move to remove "HMAS". All Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ships are known by Australians and those overseas to be HMAS NAME (example HMAS ANZAC), which ship has its HMAS NAME on the ship with the number painted on the hull. A lot of the ships when decommissioned by the RAN are scrapped or sometimes given to a maritime museum or sometimes sunk (for tourism). I see nothing wrong with keeping HMAS since you know it is a ship and you know it if from Australia. Bidgee (talk) 03:36, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

  • Alternately, when a vessel is decommissioned, from a navy, and recommissioned as a civilian vessel, there should be multiple categories. I believe the IMO number remains the same across commissionings. Personally, I have no objection to retaining prefixes like HMAS, on the grounds the prefix seems like part of the name. HMS Victory and the USS Constitution officially remain in commission. But I am not aware of any other museum ships that remain in commission. So should images of decommissioned museum ships be placed in the category that would include images from when they were in commission? Geo Swan (talk) 04:28, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Nothing against the use of any prefix at all in the local Wikipedias for the general public. Even her or his Royal ships can remain Royal. But in Commons there is no use for. --Stunteltje (talk) 05:54, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Its not just local Wikipedias, in the real world they are known by the prefixes which is useful for Commons since it shows the ownership (whether it is RAN or US Navy). Many ships that have been decommissioned are still known with the prefixes by not just the public but the forces it/they served. Bidgee (talk) 08:29, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

I don't believe the USS Constitution is decomissioned & it should retain he USS. Yes, a cat should contain info to identify it, but should not have redundant info, such as Category: USS Constitution (ship, 1797). The "ship" in this category name is not needed. Semper Fi! FieldMarine (talk) 19:16, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

  • May I make two requests?
  1. Could you make a greater effort to read what other contributors have written? I explicitly said that the USS Constitution and HMS Victory were exceptional, being museum ships that remained in commission.
  2. Could you please make a greater effort to address other contributors' counter-arguments?
  1. Your definition of redundant would require viewers look inside categories in order to identify their topic. I think you must be oblivious to what an enormous waste of time your proposal requires, because the sole justification for your proposal seems to be that you think it will save time.
  2. It has been pointed out to you that Category:Ships by name contains almost 11,000 members. Although the justification for your proposal is to save time you haven't addressed the really large expenditure of effort that has been put into implementing the perfectly adequate schema you don't like. Acceptance of your proposal would require someone recategorizing all of those ten thousand files because you think the schema is redundant for a small subset of the files. Another contributor has pointed out to you that no one seems to have much enthusiam for your proposal. They asked you if you would take the initiative to recategorize all those files, if your proposal was approved. I think this is a very good question and I am disappointed you didn't see fit to answer it. I request you answer it.
  3. You haven't addressed the point made by myself, and several others, that the prefixes require expert knowledge, and that, even then, experts think they agree -- when they don't. Another contributor brought up the excellent example of the Titanic. She and her sister ships were Royal Mail Steamers -- a prestigious prefix. But I bet a lot of people would be sure her prefix should be SS. The Titanic, her sister ships, and many of their rivals, received construction grants from the Navy, in return for making the vessels available for military service in wartime.
Please, a number of people have made good faith efforts to address your concerns, and no offense, you just don't seem to be making a corresponding effort to honor the serious effort those other contributors are making to take your proposal seriously. If you are not serious about your proposal have you considered simply withdrawing your proposal? Geo Swan (talk) 20:53, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

2.1. As mentioned previously, the addition of “ship” in the category name is unnecessary & redundant. It does not add value to the cat name. We know it’s a ship in many ways, to include the parent cat, the prefixes, the subcats, the cat description, etc.
2.2. The important issue in the long-term is to have a category that makes sense. As Foroa pointed out, only a small portion of the “few hundred thousand to go” are categorized here. So to answer the question, the new category schema saves lots of time in the end. I would be happy to rename cats to the improved system.
2.3 As mentioned before, the type and function of ship should be covered in the subcats, not the category name to solve the problem mentioned here. This way, for example, a ship that has had multiple uses through the years can have multiple subcats to account for the changes or different uses. I’m not proposing to get rid of the official prefix & I agree the prefix needs to be correct. If there is debate about the prefix for a ship & what it means, such as the Titanic, that should be accomplished in the cat discussion for that ship.
Semper Fi! FieldMarine (talk) 22:33, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

  1. You claim "We know it’s a ship in many ways" -- but without offering any meaningful. I repeat that I think it is a mistake to require expert knowledge to figure out what a category contains. I continue to strongly suspect all your "many ways" require some kind of non-transparent expertise.
  2. Please don't call your schema the "improved system". Your system requires more work for viewers, lays a greater cognitive burden, all around, for a minuscule advantage of slightly shorter names.
  3. You keep asserting that viewers should be satisfied by being forced to look inside the category in order to figure out its contents. That is a lot of wasted effort, over and over again, when the name could preclude that waste of time by explicitly stating what the category contains. The great Will Rogers used to say "It is not what you don't know that gets us in trouble, it is what we know that just ain't so." I don't mean to be unpleasant, but it is not just the extra work generated by other contributors' assumption that would be the result of using your schema that concerns me. I am concerned that your arguments strongly suggest to me that you yourself are generating extra work for others due to your own misunderstanding of issues you think you understand perfectly.

    You seem to think any category with a name that uses the prefix USS is a ship category. And you seem to think the same is true for the HMS prefix and other similar acroynms. I think you unaware of the Royal Navy's use of "stone frigates". The RN gives shore installations names that start with HMS. One can't assume that names that start with HMS are ships. In Canada the prefix HMCS is used for naval ships. In the UK it stands for "Her Majesty's Court Service". These acronyms are inherently unreliable, as I already pointed out with the acronym DEW.

    Lets be realistic as to how categories are used. Generally uploaders guess at whether some appropriate category exists, use autocompletion to try plumb what that category is. If they find a category that looks OK, they don't look inside the category, to confirm they got the right one. A category name that is explicit as to what the category contains will save time when it prevents the wrong category being used. Geo Swan (talk) 01:40, 10 September 2011 (UTC)


For Wikipedia editors, I suppose it's tempting for US naval ships to just use the same naming convention as English Wikipedia:
  • I just finished enumerating all ships with the same name on a Wikipedia page
  • I just determined for which name there are several ships with the same name and require adding a year to the article name
  • I just determined the year of commissioning of that ship
Coming to Commons, I could loose all that ..
Obviously I don't loose it. At Commons, there is still a redirect to the category name Commons uses and an interwiki back to the English Wikipedia article.
The category name at Commons follows a specific scheme: "<name> (ship, <year of completion>)"
The advantage of using that is that:
  • it inserts itself in the naming convention of other ships at Commons
  • it avoids the doubt if one needs to add a year or not (English Wikipedia only does if there are several of the same name)
  • it makes it clear which year to use at Commons
  • it clear that it's about a ship. "SMS" is generally about something else (at least in Europe). --  Docu  at 09:10, 11 September 2011 (UTC)

Pictogram voting comment.svg Comment Suggest closing this CfD. There has been no discussion for a year, and the focus of the subject was really about naming individual ship categories rather than about Category:Ships by name. It seems to me that there is no need to keep this discussion open anymore, and no need to continue displaying CfD header in Category:Ships by name. MKFI (talk) 08:48, 29 August 2012 (UTC)


Symbol keep vote.svg Keep per MKFI. Category:Ships by name is a valid category. If there need to talk about special categories, please talk elsewhere on a special discussion site. --High Contrast (talk) 22:13, 30 August 2012 (UTC)