Commons:Rename a category

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This page is considered an official policy on Wikimedia Commons.

It has wide acceptance among editors and is considered a standard that everyone must follow. Except for minor edits (such as fixing typos, or bringing information up to date), please make use of the discussion page to propose changes to this policy.

This page has instructions about how to “rename” or “move” a category, in order to associate an appropriate name with a given subject (Commons:Categories defines what a category is and declares general naming principles).

Commons has several bots and scripts that can assist in this process. Whether or not it is appropriate to use them depends on the kind of "renaming".

Because moving all the items requires edits to fix all affected pages, "revert wars" over the correct name for a category can be particularly harmful. If you are ever in doubt about what the correct name should be, seek advice from others first. Talk is cheap. Moving 300 items from A to B and back again, not so much.

Subject identification

The following presupposes that the category to be renamed has a unique subject which can be identified, and that this identified subject complies with Commons policy.

In the opposite case, categories should be emptied, then deleted (according to the deletion policy). Examples:

  • Category:Courageous people of Switzerland (indeterminate subject)
  • Category:Sugar and salt (inappropriate mixing)
  • Category:Sugalt (doesn't match an existing subject)

The subject of a category will be determined according to the following relevant clues:

  • current name of the category
  • text in the category page
  • interwiki links
  • parent categories

Notice that the contents (categorized pages and files) of the category don't matter, because each page or file has to be categorized according to appropriate subjects, and this process is not bound with any association of names to these subjects. In particular, most of the contents of a category could be wrongly categorized.

Types of renames

For controversial fixes, please discuss first.
  • Trivial fixes: fixing spelling, capitalisation or number (most common nouns should be plural, i.e. Category:Things not Category:Thing). These can be done by bots without community input. (Note that both UK and US spelling are acceptable.)
  • Unambiguous fixes: standardising the category name in line with Commons' naming conventions (currently: Latin binomial for lifeforms, usually English otherwise) and the hints given in the category naming guideline. Tag these with a {{Category redirect}} notice for up to seven days; a bot will move the contents to an existing category with the correct name. Redirected categories serve only to redirect and cannot be categorised themselves. If a category has a lot of items, consider it a controversial fix instead.
  • Controversial fixes: where a category name has been in use for a long time or a lot of items, or where the naming policy is unspecific. Any category that has a corresponding Wikipedia article which has had a naming controversy over that article definitely falls into this lot. Tag these with a {{Move}} notice. Start a discussion on a talk page, and link to it from any other relevant categories, consider posting a note on Commons:Categories for discussion (which is usually best done by clicking the "Nominate category for discussion" tool on the category page) and/or the Village pump; the latter should typically only be used for discussions affecting (roughly) ten or more categories or thousands of photos. Let consensus develop before going on with a bot rename.

Rename process

If you want to do the move yourself, you need to do two things:

  • Move the category page using "move" tab from the top bar of the category page
  • Move the included pages (files, subcategories, galleries etc.) from the old category to the new category. You can use Cat-a-lot tool which can be activated in your personal preferences.

If appropriate, also mark the old category page for deletion as described below.


Any bot doing category moving should receive community approval first as noted on the bot description page.

Deleting the old category


In cases where it's likely that a new user might try to use the old category by accident, it's best to retain it as a redirect. This might include alternatives that are equally valid or synonyms; older and outdated terms; translations; or some other correct expectable name for the category. In such cases, the old category should be marked permanently with a {{Category redirect}} template.

If the old category is a simple typo or you are the only person who ever used the category and you are the one fixing it up, it can safely be deleted. Request it for speedy deletion by marking it thus:

{{bad name|new name}}  


{{speedydelete|moved to [[:Category:…]] because …}}

Don't delete categories that were fine (and had the correct name) for historic objects (notably countries or subdivisions): they have a distinct history and most often not the same geographic definition and we have a lot of historic documents and photos that relate to these historic entities. Use {{Category redirect|new category name}} instead (it is much easier to revert: a deletion is destructive, it removes all page history, and this just wastes the precious time spent in properly collecting the relevant documents!).

We cannot sort everything according to the most current modern definition that will mix everything, with various unrelated contents, forgetting that some regions were part of the history of another country: at least the redirects are easy to recover and we don't lose the useful distinctive information.

See also