Commons talk:Category scheme countries and subdivisions

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Should Vehicles really be categorised under Road transport rather than Transport? There are plenty of aerial, nautical, submarine, off-road (including snow) and rail vehicles (to name a few) that do not use roads. Indeed, Category:Vehicles is categorised under Category:Transport and has a specific subcategory for Road vehicles. I don't see why vehicles by country should implicitly refer specifically to road vehicles. LX (talk, contribs) 16:42, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

I just had a look around in Category:Vehicles by country, and a majority of subcategories do not follow this category scheme's recommendation to assume that all vehicles are road vehicles. Assuming usage reflects consensus, I'm just going to be bold and change the category scheme and adjust the six categories which followed the old recommendation. LX (talk, contribs) 16:50, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
I think that subcategories of Category:Vehicles by brand and Category:Vehicles by country concern road vehicles, and therefore I categorized them in “road transport” categories.
A few days go, I said Categorization have to be done according to the SUBJECT, never according to the CONTENTS. So, you would be right if we could always define the subject of a category according to its name. Because, in my opinion and in this special case, these subcategories have broken names.
We basically have three options :
1. SUBJECT~road vehicules; Categorization: road transport categories. We keep the current subcategory names (if you are rigourous and have time to take care of that, you'll not choose this one)
2. SUBJECT~road vehicules; Categorization: road transport categories. We rename all the subcategory names according to the specified SUBJECT
3. SUBJECT=vehicles; Categorization: transport categories. --Juiced lemon 20:10, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

Category schemes - fixed or changible?[edit]

(Copied from a discussion on Category:New Zealand's talk page. I'd like this discussion to continue here.)

Before I get into a spat by doing my change again, I'd like to see what people think - I placed the above category into 'Culture of New Zealand', because I felt that this was in line with Commons policy of placing images AND categories into the most specific location, and because Category:New Zealand already has a lot of categories.

The above was reverted by a user, without any reason given (admittedly, I had not given an edit summary either). I still believe that the policy would support the change, and that 'Symbols' is a specific sub-part of Culture (maybe of Politics of New Zealand too), but that it is too specific (and too rarely used) to be at the top level. What do other people feel?

Ingolfson 06:39, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

The “most specific location” doesn't exist for categories, because each person has his individual way to link concepts together. To by-pass the problem, in Commons, categories are organized according to schemes, which are in Category:Commons category schemes.
In order to standardize the category structures for different countries, I wrote Commons:Category scheme countries and subdivisions: for a given country, symbols is a first-level category. That's the case for most subcategories of Category:Symbols by country.
Therefore, place Category:Symbols of New Zealand in Category:Culture of New Zealand will prevent people to find this category, because it is unexpected. --Juiced lemon 08:47, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
I read [1] as having the 'most specific' policy applying to cats too ("The category structure should reflect a hierarchy of concepts, from the most generic one down to the very specific."). Also, surely, on a Wiki, nothing needs to be cast in stone? Consistency is important, but what about changes and improvements? I strongly assume that the "be bold" rule exists here too. Ingolfson 09:07, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
The category scheme is also by its very nature incomplete, because Commons is growing faster and getting more specific all the time. Use the following example:
  • It may be obvious that "Beaches of X" is a subcat of "Geography of X". But what about "Coasts of X", which does not exist in the scheme (but should, NOT ALL beaches are coasts). "Coasts of X" should be an INTERMEDIATE category between "Geography of X" and "Beaches of X" (because all beaches ARE coasts). By sticking strictly to the scheme in such a case, we break the policy of general -> specific. Ingolfson 09:12, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
The purpose of classification is to help people to find what they search. When you are classifying files, you have the time to think about logic connections about subjects, and you have also some basic knowledge of the organization. But the situation is quite different when you are just searching a file in order to illustrate an encyclopedic article: so, “hierarchy of concepts” is just a general consideration, which have no practical usefulness in Commons.
A beach can be a coast or not, a volcano can be a mountain or not, a die can be a plastic object or not. Category:Waikiki Beach is a beach, and also a coast. However, as you cannot place Category:Beaches of Hawaii in Category:Coasts of Hawaii (improper generalization), categorizing Waikiki Beach in Category:Coasts of Hawaii would be pointless. --Juiced lemon 10:00, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
When, please is a beach NOT a coast? Examples? Waikiki Beach would work just fine, logically, being a subcat of Beaches of Hawai, being respectively a subcat of Coasts of Hawai. No double categorization at the bottom end necessary. And why suddenly has "hierarchy of concepts" no usefulness on Commons? The whole structure is decidedly hierarchical - see my above link, which says "The category structure is (ideally) a multi-hierarchy with a single root category.". Sorry, but you are not making sense to me. Ingolfson 10:12, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

(Copied part ends Ingolfson 10:13, 18 August 2007 (UTC))

As an addition to the above, what I really want (beyond clarification of those last comments of yours which confuse me still), is a way of proposing changes to such schemes. I do not care deeply about the original issue of the 'Symbols of New Zealand' category - however, category schemes should be able to be changed in much the same way everything else on Wikimedia can be changed - by discussion and, hopefully, consensus. Ingolfson 10:25, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
You can read, in the introduction of beach: They occur along coastal areas where wave or current action deposit and rework sediments, or a stretch of land residing along a lake or river subject to erosion caused by rain fall.. Since a coast is land adjoining or near the ocean, beaches are NOT coasts.
The expression “hierarchy of concepts” is about a general idea: it's not a definition. Therefore, it has no practical usefulness in Commons.
Category schemes can be changed. Discussions about changes can occur in their talk pages, and/or in Commons:Categories for discussion. --Juiced lemon 10:41, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, but I do in fact dispute your reading. Your very first sentence says that "beaches occur along COASTAL areas." As for the lake/river exemption, there is no reason why "Beaches of X" could not be a subcategory of those categories as well. If you consider "Geography of X" as the top category (Level 1), "Coasts of X" and "Rivers of X" and "Lakes of X" as the next level down (Level 2), and then place "Beaches of X" as a Level 3 category linking up to the three Level 2 categories named, then the conventions are intact (no bypassing), and all files tagged "Beaches of X" will be correctly sorted.
As for the hierarchy of concepts, you seem to put surprisingly little weight on a major concept of the category system - what else, then, do you consider the definition or the leading principle of the category system, and why is this very sensible "general idea" so "practically useless" as you seem to think? In fact, even while we may disagree about the exact placement of where a category should go, we are already using a self-defined hierarchy to order them (which you yourself decided on for this very category scheme, if I got you right). Obviously we are NOT deciding on where a category should go in the tree on alphanumeric grounds, or some such purely technical merit. We define a hierarchy, so why insist that there is no hierarchy? Ingolfson 11:00, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Beaches of X differs from Coastal beaches of X, and therefore is not categorized in Coasts of X. A beach is a landform and is categorized on the same level than other landforms, like coasts, lakes or rivers.
Guess we simply will not get agreement here. I provided an example above which avoids exactly the difficulty you now decry. Also, not all landforms need to be on an equal level, if some are natural subsets of other. You just want them to be at one level, it seems. Fair enough, as you went to the trouble of setting up the scheme. I may yet propose a change, but I am sick of it at the moment. Ingolfson 21:44, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
For the hierarchy of concepts, I meant that there is no natural hierarchy of concepts which can be implemented to build the topics structure. We have to regard Commons categories structures as simply conventional ones. If I categorize category A in category B, it doesn't imply a hierarchy between A and B, only a connection, and a custom rule to choose A -> B rather than B -> A. --Juiced lemon 14:13, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. I actually agree with you there. However, if there is no natural hierarchy, then it IS simply a "custom" (as you call it), and could be changed. Ingolfson 21:44, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Just to show that I am now being obstinate, I have changed "Beaches of New Zealand" back into its 'category scheme' place in "Geography of New Zealand". I still feel it could be placed better, but I understand the need for some consistency. Ingolfson 21:49, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

Firefighting by country?[edit]

Where should that go? I don't think it is top-level enough to go into country-level itself. How about a "Public services of X" category? That could also hold things like health services, public administration services.... Ingolfson 10:24, 23 August 2007 (UTC)

Category:Firefighting is currently categorized in Category:Security. Therefore, Category:Firefighting in X can be categorized in Category:Security in X.
How to categorize security can be discussed. Education, health, security are not always public services, so I don't agree with your proposal “Public services of X”. --Juiced lemon 11:00, 23 August 2007 (UTC)
I did think about that, but am still searching for a better phrase that would fit that quandary... What about "Services in x"? That would logically cover all utilities like power, post, firefighting... Ingolfson 11:52, 23 August 2007 (UTC)
There is a Category:Civil services category, but it ain't used much. Would "Civil services in X" fit for both public and private providers of things like health or firefighting services? What do people think? Would probably be clearer than "Services in X", which might be too widely cast. Ingolfson 11:55, 23 August 2007 (UTC)
There are military firefighters, too. --Juiced lemon 12:24, 23 August 2007 (UTC)
So? No reason why a subcat of military firefighters cannot link to military as well as the services cat - branches rejoning further down the tree are not exactly a rare incidence on Commons, nor discouraged. There is no need to remove ALL possible overlap for a specific subcategory. As for the naming, lets call it "public services" instead. A military firefighter would still be a kind of public service, as the military is a government agency. Ingolfson 04:51, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

First branch:

Country X


Public services in X


Firefighting in X


Military firefighting in X

Second branch:


Military in X




Ingolfson 04:56, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

As a further example, the category "military colleges" goes under both military and education categories. While there aren't enough such files on Commons for such a structure to have developed yet (either by a scheme or by natural growth), it would therefore make sense to place a category "Military colleges in X" into both "Military of X" and "Education in X". Ingolfson 05:08, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

People - of or from?[edit]

The example Category:People of Nicaragua seems to be in conflict with the Commons:By location category scheme proposal (buried in the middle a long way from headings):

... In other cases, "from" may be preferable for other reasons such as inclusiveness of members who originated in a country but no longer are "of" that country. Any term referring to people should generally use from, rather than of, so that emigrants from that location may also be included. ...

We currently have a mixture, but about 92% use "of": see -

  • 33 "from" (including two strained ones "from Fooian origin in", which should be "of Fooian origin");
  • 3 "in"
  • about 400 "of", plus about 24 "of the"
  • 4 "Peoples of"
  • Some duplication, on the face of it: People from Bosnia and Herzegovina + People of Bosnia and Herzegovina; People from Hong Kong + People of Hong Kong; People from the Soviet Union + People of the Soviet Union; maybe others

Is there a consensus that we should ideally move towards one or the other (and consequently to correct whichever scheme would be contrary to the consensus)?

Robin Patterson 11:48, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

There is no contradiction, because of is the preferred preposition. The subcategories of a “People of LOCATION” category may have the of form or the from form. Therefore, we use the default preposition: of. More, when the location is a small area, like a city, emigrants are never included: it is expected that LOCATION is a place of birth. --Juiced lemon 09:21, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Suggested change[edit]

I suggest that the Maps of X category be in the future moved into the Geography of X category. Reason - maps are depictions of geographical concepts, and the top cat could use a little bit of dispersion.

I also suggest that the Symbols of X category be in the future moved into the Culture of X category. Reason - symbols are depictions of cultural concepts, and the top cat could use a little bit of dispersion.

Comments, ayes or nayes? Ingolfson 12:20, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

No opposition after 2 weeks, making changes as suggested. Ingolfson 07:06, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Change suggested to "Demographics of X"[edit]

I suggest moving the "Demographics of X" one down into "People of X". Demographics is a sub-area of "People" in any case, and "People" is a logical target for anyone searching for the "Demographics of X" cat. Demographics of X is also normally way too low-populated in files to be a main subcat under the country cat.

Comments, ayes or nayes? Ingolfson 07:16, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Not a good idea. The cat:People tends to be quite full and busy with famous artists, politicians, writers ... Demographics has nothing to do with "such" people, its more related to population, but I don't know if this deserves an additional cat. --Foroa 08:32, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
I get your point, but "people" for good reason includes such meanings as "the people of Xcountry feel that..." - also note that the Demographics subcat can easily be moved to the front of the people by sorting syntax, so that it will not be lost by the casual user within the list of professions and other subcats... Ingolfson 12:55, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
I get your point too. But current usage of people concerns folks, important persons (ego's in other words, so a busy cat), I don't think that it is a good idea to mix it up with etnic groups and population stuff. (Cfr Belgium with its German, French and Flemish speaking communities, Kurds in Turkey, Spanish speaking community in USA, the poor, rural, illiterated, wealthy populations in x, statistics on consumption, age, mariage, ... ...) So even if population might be an almost empty cat, I am sure it will grow over time. --Foroa 14:28, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Change suggested to "Cities of X"[edit]

I suggest moving the "Cities of X" up to become a direct subcat of "Country of X". "Cities of X" is one of the most sought after categories for day-to-day use, and should not be hidden deep down (even if the other suggested change above is not done).

Comments, ayes or nayes? Ingolfson 07:19, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Completely agree. See in Category:Cities and villages in Belgium in Category:Belgium: immediate access to all cities and towns without having any deeper geographic or politic knowledge of the country. After all, country, city and street are the common parameters to designate an address; other details are generally not known by foreigners.
--Foroa 08:02, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Note that we have a double city categorisation system: the Category:Cities and villages in Belgium one to find quickly, one (or more) to organise according to regions, communities and provinces (At the country level, we have overlapping political, language (communities) and administrative organisations).
--Foroa 08:56, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
In this regard, the category X-city can always link up to "Cities of Xcountry" and then to "Xcountry", while ALSO linking up to the specific "Xregion", then linking up to "Subdivisions of Xcountry" and then up to "Xcountry" again. This double path is perfectly acceptable in the category sorting rules. Ingolfson 12:57, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
Completely agree. This shows that the commons rule that forbids double categorisation is not really adapted (or needs clarification) to our needs. Same applies for example for rivers: you need a flat list of all rivers and a hierarchy of what rivers flow into which other river. --Foroa 14:32, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
Wouldn't Category:Cities and villages in Belgium be more correct as Category:Cities and villages in Belgium by alphabet? As for the rivers you could make a very nice recusive structure by having Category:Tributaries of the Danube as a sub to Category:River Danube and then put all the individual tributaries' cats there. Repeat until you run out of rivers/streams. Railwayfan2005 (talk) 19:55, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
Hi Railwayfan2005 - I agree that your proposal of adding "by alphabet" makes sense at some stage - but while I fought (rather insistently ;-) on other categories to add the "by alphabet" qualifier, it is only required where they intermediate categories already exist - in other words, once Category:Cities and villages in Belgium gets sub-categories like Category:Cities and villages in Belgium founded by Spain and Category:Cities and villages in Northern Belgium (just throwing random semi-possible options out there), THEN such a subcategory that catches all cities and villages, grouped solely by alphabet, would make sense.
Technically, you could create it right now - but good luck explaining the need for it to anyone who hasn't followed our rather complex recent discussions on Category:Categories by country! Ingolfson (talk) 07:01, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
Fully agree with you on the tributaries cats by the way. Get yourself a river that you want to sort and go for it! Ingolfson (talk) 07:01, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
Concerning Category:Cities and villages in Belgium:
  • This category is used for all places in Belgium, including towns and hamlets, so it is an easy rule for categorisation by visitors without any geographic knowledge of the country. Moreover, a visitor sees immediately in what country he is (in most countries, one has to click 3 to 6 times before you know in what country you are) and sees the names that resemble each other.
  • Although this category could indeed be named as Category:Cities and villages in Belgium by alphabet, it is not a good idea of making the name more complex and deviating from what used to be the Category:Cities and villages in xxx commons world level standard.
  • There will be no other subcategories here: the administrative categorisation country/Communities-regions/provinces/municipalities/villages/towns-hamlets is a completely isolated parallel tree and serves only to show the geographic relations, not the other category structures. We might need indeed over time an additional "by cities in Belgium" category, but because this makes matters more complex (City is a honorary title, nothing to do with size or function)), we better wait till basic cat infrastructure is stable.
Concerning the river categorisation, you are right, but in a country of 100 on 200 km, one don't need a large structure (not wide but deep), and the current one seems more than sufficient by now. --Foroa (talk) 12:16, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

Historical subdivisions[edit]

Anyone has something against creating a subcat under Category:Subdivisions of X called Category:Historical subdivisions of X? Ingolfson 22:47, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

I will create it in the scheme. Ingolfson (talk) 11:46, 31 January 2009 (UTC)

Architecture vs buildings[edit]

I am proposing that we demote the "Buildings in..." category and bring it under the "Architecture of..." category. At the same time, we should elevate "Architecture of..." one up, instead of keeping it under "Culture of..." category as it is currently.

The reason is that buildings are in fact, a subcategory of architecture/engineering, and as such should be found there. At the moment, that relationship is topsy-turvy with "Buildings of..." a country topcat, and "Architecture of..." a country subcat, and with many still linking the "Buildings in..." upwards to "Architecture of..." anyway, the structure in many country schemes is contrary to Commons rules - yet I am reluctant to change it, because that uplink makes sense, as described above.

Therefore, as noted, my proposal: Buildings one down, Architecture one up, buildings becoming a subcategory of "Architecture". While there will be the occasional puzzled user who has gotten used to finding it via the top cats, that alone should not prevent correcting this mistake. Also, it will be logical that someone who searches for buildings will look for them in "Architecture". Ingolfson (talk) 01:58, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

Strongly oppose. Architecture is cultural indeed and is not (necessarily) directly related with all things that are man-build (for many people, architecture is only an afterthought --> most people think (too much) in terms of scale/geography/belonging to: country - city - town - hamlet - street - buildings). In Belgium, for one, "buildings in ..." is a basic category and in general the first one that is created in cities/villages under development, so probably one of the most used categories in Belgium. Moreover, this corresponds with the Commons standard. In a developing Belgian city, the building category (mostly with a "church in ..." cat) take in general 60 % of the available images and provide a general category example that is very easy to understand/learn/evolve by novice users. --Foroa (talk) 13:34, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
Mmmh, fair comment. I will think some more on this. You are obviously opposed on moving buildings down. What about moving architecture up? Ingolfson (talk) 11:45, 31 January 2009 (UTC)


I find it bizarre that photographs of stamps, postcards and mailboxes come under a hierachy of transport! Other elements under transport are things directly related to transportation, like vehicles, ships, aeroplanes, roads, rails, canals. I think of postal services as primarily a communications service. Yes they 'transport' envelopes and small packages, but similarly a water company's main function is to transport water from one place to another (via pipes, or possibly tankers), oil company's main function (apart from making money ;-) is to deliver oil/petroleum/gas using various modes of transport. I see no logical reason why postal services come under this hierachy. Postal vehicles certainly would, but postal sorting offices, distribution and collection places are stretching it (would oil company offices or even pumping stations similarly qualify?), and stamps are bizarre. --Tony Wills (talk) 06:13, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

Post is certainly a transport function. I think you focus too much on the fact that the individual transported item is so small. However, you are right regarding the communication service. And indeed, "Post of XXX country" is already sorted in some of the respective's countries category in Category:Communication by country. As is Category:Post in Category:Communication technology. It isn't an either-or-choice. Its both. Ingolfson (talk) 23:32, 27 February 2009 (UTC)