Commons talk:WikiProject Tree of Life/Archive 2009/3

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Fossils vs. Fossil vs. Extinct[edit]

There is a big mess with categories of extinct/fossil species.

  • 1) First of all: we categorize IMAGES of species according to the taxonomy, like this: Category:Animalia, Category:Mammalia, ...
  • 2) Additionally we categorize these species if they are extinct or not, alhought we can find out this information if the species is extinct or not in the encyclopedia.
  • 3) We do not need to have a word "fossil" in name of categories, because every fossil species in extinct. Category Fossil Animalia would belong inside the category Extinct Animalia. Category Fossil "something" is misleading.
  • 4) We can categorize images of fossils. These are normal photos of fossils, some of them are unidentified.

Proposal: Rename Category:Fossil AnimaliaCategory:Fossils of Animalia and every other categories from Fossil to Fossils of in the same way.

For example Category:Citipati contains subcategory Category:Fossil Citipati that contains 5 photos of fossils, so it should be renamed to Category:Fossils of Citipati. But all of those 5 photos are categorized also in Category:Citipati. Such dubious categorizing is useless.

Do we even need to categorize IDENTIFIED fossils? Do every fossil identified to species level need its own separate category? Such privilegue has no for example Reconstruction of ..., so why it has Fossil of .... How to categorize File:OdontogriphusSpeciman RoyalOntarioMuseum.png, into Category:Fossil of Odontogriphus? Its categorizing into Fossils of Animalia is not much useful.

We can normally delete all categories Unidentified fossil ... and use categories Fossils of ... for images of unidetified fossils. Images of identified fossils do not need its special "fossils of" category. --Snek01 (talk) 14:05, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

The reason I started to categorize the fossil images the way I have is that prior t my work with the category, it consisted of one Cat labeled "Fossils with over 400 unorganized images in them. The current structure lets someone navigate from the general fossil category down to image of specific taxon fossils. If we get rid of the "Fossils of" category then we are right back where we strated with an even bigger mess in a single "Fossils" category. Another reason for the separation is that there are a number of popular extinct species which have large amounts of artists reconstructions, phylogenic trees, and other renderings which overwhelm the lone fossil image, see the plesiosaur categories. IF the name structure is incorrectly formatted we should ge a bot to change it to the correct format. Also as a side note, just because something is a fossil doesn't mean its extinct and vice versa. see the ginkgo biloba cat for fossils of a living species. see the massive amounts of artists renderings for extinct animals that are not fossils.--Kevmin (talk) 15:54, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
No, not get rid of it, but rename them from "Fossil ..." to "Fossils of ...". Rocket000 (talk) 16:28, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
I have no complaits about renaming. Im concerned about he proposal to only place unidentified fossil images in "fossils of ..." categories, and to have the identified images in the parent categories and either not linked to cat:fossil in any way or have them all in cat:fossil.--Kevmin (talk)
Ok, me too. Rocket000 (talk) 18:04, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
There is no reason why the "Unidentified" categories cannot include unidentified fossils. As regards the Ginkgo case - the fossils belong in Category:Ginkgo. They are not G. biloba, but G. adiantoides or its precedessor. 02:07, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
And you are basing this on what exactly. I have placed the fossils correctly accoring to the information provided in Mustoe 2002 "Eocene Ginkgo leaf fossils of hte pacific Northwest" which describes G. dissecta and clearly places the Okanogan Highlands fossils into G. biloba. This placement is followed in all lit. pertaining to the Okanogan Highlands lit. published since and has not been refuted by any publications.--Kevmin (talk) 07:20, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
I agree that "Fossil ..." is not a good way to name these categories. Fossil categories should only contain fossils (i.e. the mineralized remains of a dead organism), not all images representing extinct species. Personally, I don't think there is a need to separate the extinct from the extant category wise. I find it helpful when these categories are placed under the sort key '†' but anymore than that is unnecessary. On Wikispecies, there was a somewhat recent discussion about this too. Unlike there, where taxonomy is the main focus, I don't think all that separation is useful for finding media, especially since there are relatively very few files given that the subject is no longer around to be photographed. If we do change the naming convention, there will be a lot of work to do. Not just moving categories, but also going through them manually and recategorizing non-fossils. Also, all the taxonavigation will need to be updated. Naming aside, one problem I see is the overcategorization, e.g. see how long it takes to get to the media in Category:Fossil Stromatoporoidea. Rocket000 (talk) 16:25, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
Regarding the overcategorization, I have been back and forth with myself regarding how many levels to include in the hierarchy. I will point out that many of the fossil hierarchies are not worse then the extant taxa, note the amount of levels in category:Calcarea before reaching media.--Kevmin (talk) 16:33, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
Very true. It's an issue not unique to the fossil ones. I also have a hard time knowing what and how many intermediate ranks to use. At least we can say that our image collection will never be complete and this overcategorization issue could go away simply by adding more media. Rocket000 (talk) 18:04, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
But Category:Calcarea was a bad example, since you see a file right away. ;) Rocket000 (talk) 18:07, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
No, the "†" approach does not work consistently enough. It messes up the table of contents of categories containing many extant as well as extinct taxa. A separate category tree containing only extinct (and fossil) taxa is better, running (mostly) in parallel to the general taxon category tree as the "Unidentified [taxon]" category tree does. 01:57, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
Can you give me an example category where this is the case? All I ever seen is one or two extinct subtaxa categories in a parent category. The ones with more probably just are at too high of a rank and some subcategorizing would solve it (just guessing because I never encountered this). The "†" thing is the current practice so I wasn't suggest anything new. A separate category for the extinct taxa may be a better choice if the category has a ton of subtaxa, but there's no reason we need a whole separate tree for them. Rocket000 (talk) 02:32, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
No, it is not "current practice", there simply is no current practice, and that's the problem. Some people use "†", but others don't and with the category-vs-page debate the entire ToL category structure has gone from messy to bordering-on-ununsable. Like me, a lot of former regulars on Commons have decided to spend their time elsewhere, because we feel that Commons is simply becoming a wasted effort. As for an example and a demonstration of the preceding, try to imagine how Category:Crocodylomorpha would look like under this system.
What would be needed, instead of these futile attempts on cosmetics, is a baseline, phylogenetically accurate category tree FIRST AND FOREMOST. A lot of the bird categories are still using Sibley taxonomy, because we've been too busy to clean up those more recent messes to fix the mess from 5 years ago. What we need is a classification/category system that is "quick and dirty", so as to be able to accomodate different systematic views and be usable for anyone anywhere', no matter if that user is a novice or a professional expert of the taxon in question. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 17:01, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
It's a current practice in the sense that people are currently practicing it. I didn't mean to imply that everyone is doing it. 5 years ago we had a fifth of the files we have now. It seems back then people focused solely on creating galleries (usually with only one or two images) and left the files uncategorized. Things have changed considerably since then. This is the first time I heard someone say "Commons is simply becoming a wasted effort" but I guess that's inevitable on a wiki as change itself. I think en.wp became a wasted effort years ago, that's why I decided to spend my time elsewhere. It's relative; I don't think any of us are intentionally trying to make things usable and messy. Rocket000 (talk) 20:45, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Totally messed up system. Category:Fossil Hesperornithiformes is a joke, and not a good one at that. Note also that most content that apparently shows fossils actually is of plastic/GRP/plaster replicas (museums do not usually present their best specimens to the public; replicas or part-replicas incorporating some inferior fossil material are usually used instead. See File:Hesperornis regalis.jpg for example where it is readily apparent by color). Proposal: Except for taxa where it may be useful (e.g. some higher-level taxa without living representatives) merge "Fossil" into "Extinct" and use (as is desired by some geo project ppl) lithostratographic units and/or geological time periods instead if a finer categorization is needed. We might have a very few photos of true fossil specimen of extant taxa actually (mammals in all likelihood, and though the present fossil ginkgo content is all misidentified we might eventually get content of an actual (Pliocene) G. biloba), but such specimens are generally rare enough not to justify an entirely new and highly convoluted (and COM:OVERCATting) system. Almost any taxon that is known from truly fossil (i.e. permineralized) specimens is also entirely extinct. 01:45, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
Addition: Stem taxa (those that have no extant members) should not use "Extinct" at all since it is redundant.
That way, instead of having Category:Fossil Hesperornithiformes, Category:Fossil Hesperornithidae and Category:Fossil Hesperornis to categorize a single item of content that is for the most part not even a fossil, one would use Category:Hesperornis and that's that. It also the problem of what to do with content like File:Marsh1880-193.jpg, which arguably has a far better justification to be called "picture of a fossil" that the plaster-and-rock Hesperornis skeleton presently categorized as a "fossil". 01:57, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
So your argument is that because most museums dont show the actual fossil specimens then the categories should not exist. I would propose that the categories could easily be noted to include fossil and replicas of fossils. The fact is they are representing the fossils and the vast majority of the public views them as fossils. I would also point you to my prior comment regarding the validity of the Ginkgo specimens. Another thin I have never figured out is the point of completely separating out extinct taxa and treating them like the evil in-laws that no one wants to mention. The categorization of extinct taxa into the main taxon tree is perfectly valid and I have not seen a viable argument for moving them to a separate tree. --Kevmin (talk) 07:20, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
No, my argument is that the "Fossil/Extinct" system violates COM:OVERCAT on a regular basis and there is no good reason to break a core policy of Commons. A practical reason, mind you. Not a philosophical reason or such. Philosophically we should have a Category:Metaves and Category:Odontoanserae for those who believe in them, but for practical reasons we don't.
That we have problems determining what is an actual fossil and what isn't, and that drawings of fossils should go where now? and that we have HUGE problems with taxa that have a lot of extinct forms (Late Quaternary or otherwise) is just an icing of ground glass on an unpalatable cake. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 17:01, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

So, I repeat again my suggestion, expanded by an additional point:

  • Merge "Fossil" into "Extinct" and (as is desired by some geo project ppl) use lithostratographic units and/or geological time periods if a finer categorization is needed.
  • Entirely extinct taxa should not use "Extinct" at all since it is redundant.
  • Use "Reconstructions of..." categories (but only) for those taxa where there would be too much content (classic example: Category:Tyrannosaurus. It serves the same purpose and it is easier and cleaner to implement and use. And we have already categories like those in Category:Heinrich Harder which would benefit from being tied together in one place (see also Category:Animals in art). Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 17:01, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
    • Agree with the second one (exceptions possible). The first one needs clarification "Merge 'Fossil' into 'Extinct'". Ok, but what about real fossils? We're going to treat them the same as organisms? What about recently extinct species? No opinion about the finer subcategorizing of those, but I should point out we could do it both ways (by rank/clade and by geologic periods). Some areas already have things like Category:Mesozoic. The third one sounds good for some categories, but the word "Reconstructions" seems pretty narrow to me. I don't think of man-made "fossils" or illustrations when I hear that. But life-size 3D realistic statues (for lack of a better word) usually seen in a museum. Rocket000 (talk) 21:11, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
We do not need categories Fossils of ... for nearly every species; only for those species that already have over 200 images in its species category, there could be practical to made one. --Snek01 (talk) 21:59, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Absolutely agree with that. It might be good to put true fossils in both the species category and a broader fossil category that's not rank-based but by based on geological time periods. Some may want to browse fossils only. Rocket000 (talk) 22:34, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
The problem with trying to categorize images into lithographic/chronoligic cats it that the vast majority of fossil images that have been contributed to commons do not have the lithographic age or the chronological age. while some fossils will be unambiguousas to where they are from, many many more will not and thus not place-able into the structure. There still has been no mention of why fossil taxa should not be included in the main taxonomic cat layering. If there are ares there editors feel there is overlayering then post them here and we can work on making redirects out of them.--Kevmin (talk) 18:33, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

Images can not be categorized according to all thinkable criteria. We can not categorize images according to 1) taxonomy AND according to 2) taxonomy only for extinct taxa AND according to 3) taxonomy for fossils. Point 2 and point 3 is dubious and it is overcategorization. That is unquestionable. Exemplary example of overcategorization is like this:


     [−] Fossil Bellerophontida (1 C)
     [−] Fossil Bellerophontoidea (2 C)
     [−] Fossil Bellerophontidae (1 C)
     [−] Fossil Prosoptychus (2 F)
     no subcategories
     [−] Fossil Bucaniidae (1 C)
     [−] Fossil Boiotremus (3 F)
     no subcategories

     [−] Bellerophontoidea (3 C)
     [−] Fossil Bellerophontoidea (2 C)
     [−] Fossil Bellerophontidae (1 C)
     [−] Fossil Prosoptychus (2 F)
     no subcategories
     [−] Fossil Bucaniidae (1 C)
     [−] Fossil Boiotremus (3 F)
     no subcategories
     [−] Bellerophontidae (3 C)
     [−] Fossil Bellerophontidae (1 C)
     [−] Fossil Prosoptychus (2 F)
     no subcategories
     [−] Bucanopsis (1 F)
     no subcategories
     [−] Prosoptychus (1 C, 2 F)
     [−] Fossil Prosoptychus (2 F)
     no subcategories
     [−] Bucaniidae (2 C)
     [−] Fossil Bucaniidae (1 C)
     [−] Fossil Boiotremus (3 F)
     no subcategories
     [−] Boiotremus (1 C, 3 F)
     [−] Fossil Boiotremus (3 F)
     no subcategories

This is overcategorization. Every tendency of combining "Extinct" and "Fossils of" with taxonomy is overcategorization. There is possibility to categorize fossils according to other criteria. Reasonable criteria would be accordding locality and maybe according other ones. But there is a question if it is useful at all. There is no need to distinguish Category:Mammuthus columbi from Category:Fossil Mammuthus columbi and all of its images can be in Category:Mammuthus columbi until there will be more than 200 images in that Category:Mammuthus columbi category. --Snek01 (talk) 19:59, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

As I noted already in this discussion the large majority of images of fossil/extinct taxa do not have localtiy or age information included thus would not be categorizable by those criteria. So I ask again how do you connect the images for fossil Mammuthus columbi with the main page linked Category:Fossils? are you proposing that the entire category:Mammuthus columbi be linked in as a subcategory even though some of the media in the category is not of fossils but is artists impressions of what the Columbian mammoth may have appeared like? This becomes a problem with extinct groups like Dinosauria, Pliosauria etc... where the vast majority of images are not of the fossils but images of what the animal may have looked like etc....--Kevmin (talk) 23:02, 27 August 2009 (UTC)
Nohow. Yes, keep Category:Mammuthus columbi and delete Category:Fossil Mammuthus columbi. No problem exist, this is the store for images. All categories "Fossil something" will be deleted and nobody will miss it. This is no proposal of me, but everybody said that. --Snek01 (talk) 00:14, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Kevmin wrote: "There still has been no mention of why fossil taxa should not be included in the main taxonomic cat layering.". This is very misleading. The situation is like this: Fossil taxa are included in the normal taxonomy taxonomy. Thus images of fossils are included in the main taxonomy categories. But there is need to mark them as extinct taxa or as fossil taxa or even if they are fossils. --Snek01 (talk) 19:59, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

Hence the use of the "†" to note that taxa are extinct see Category:Cephalopoda, all the extinct taxa are grouped one section under the dagger. My comment was in response to the proposal to only categorize by stratigraphy/chronology--Kevmin (talk) 23:02, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

The situation is like this: "Category:Fossil something" have inproper name. It was very stupid to start such a name of category and that should know everybody who work in paleontology. It is the fault of User:Kevmin and starting all categories "Fossil something" was completelly useless. Everybody is responsible for his/her edits. All discussing members supported to merge Fossil into Extinct and all discussing members supported to not to use "fossil" for completelly extinct taxa. I am sorry, but if user Kevmin do not understand this since a start of a August then we can realize this against his will, because the purpose is not to make chaos. A sole user can not obstruct it for such a long time. --Snek01 (talk) 19:59, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

At no point did I deny responsibility for creating the categories. However as this site is used by everyone, not just those familiar with paleontology it is not stupid to state what the purpose of the category is. The structure of the name may be wrong but the intended purpose is useful. It was useless to have a single category with over 400 images floating around in it so no one could find anything. I will concede to the merging of extinct and fossil on the condition that there is a reasonable proposal to maintain the connection between the media and Category:Fossils--Kevmin (talk) 23:03, 27 August 2009 (UTC)
Surely it was better before you. There is no way to maintain all images of fossils in one category and its subcategories according to the taxonomy. --Snek01 (talk) 00:14, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Fossil and extinct are not synonyms, if someone has forgotten it. But the name could maybe be less ambigous, such as "fossilized", which also looks better than "fossil of". Only thing problematical with the fossil categories is that they often include casts of fossils and mounted casts, but that's not a very big problem. As for unidentified fossil categories, they are needed for obvious reasons. If I want to identify fossils, I don't care to search through dozens of categories of extant taxa to find such images. FunkMonk (talk) 18:28, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

Kevmin, have you got anything other to say to the discussion? [1] --Snek01 (talk) 20:46, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

I reverted that edit because at this point there is absolutly no concenesus as to what to do with the "Fossil xxx" categories". tehre have been three different proposals for how to deal with them and no one has agreed how or if to implement any of them. If you want to find resolution to this then help me find more pele to comment on the question proposed. If on then the issue will have to be left at no concenscus.--Kevmin (talk) 15:22, 1 September 2009 (UTC)
OK, could you summarize other two proposals, please?. --Snek01 (talk) 15:38, 1 September 2009 (UTC)
  • 1. "Fossil xxx" -> "Extinct xxx" (Snek01, Dysmorodrepanis, Rocket000)
  • 2. "Fossil xxx" -> Lithology or Chronology based system (Dysmorodrepanis)
  • 3. Retain "Fossil xxx" with name change to a more suitable name format (Kevmin)
At this point there is no agreement which should be done. I would also comment about the argument that the current system is unmaintainable is incorrect. it is the same system format as is used by the extant taxa with no issues as long as editors work with them. --Kevmin (talk) 16:02, 1 September 2009 (UTC)
  • ad 1) that is preferred by users. It is clear, that in optimal example categories "Extinct xxx" will contain only subcategories, because everything will be determined.
  • ad 2) that can be done independently also. Nobody is against this.
  • ad 3) the only supported category is "Category:Fossils", "Category:Unidentified fossils", special category "Category:Fossils of recent taxa" maybe could be also made, if needed.

--Snek01 (talk) 17:32, 1 September 2009 (UTC)

Unidentified ones are more easily to solve. Unidentified images are not much welcomed and there is an attempt to reduce difficult system of unidentified categories to as simple as possible. There can be only one "Category:Unidentified fossils" and everything can be inside this one. Such unidentified images can also be on the other place: among recent images as usual. IF there is somebody who necessary need only unidentified fossils in one place, then I can recommend to have a single page (not a category). I can show you an example from different field: Commons:Sculpture images without artist name. That is easy and practical. --Snek01 (talk) 17:32, 1 September 2009 (UTC)

I can count and I know what is an concensus. There is only few people in discussion but there is clear what to do. There is not possible to wait for more comments, because everybody had very much time already. That is irony, that an user who started a large number of categories (that appeared to have a bad name and ignore guide about overcategorization and became strategically unwanted) NOW wants more people to discussion! There already was a discussion. Could you write down "OK", please? --Snek01 (talk) 17:32, 1 September 2009 (UTC)

  • This is a long discussion, and seems to have moved away from the question posed by the heading. I would have thought that the answer to that was clear, all fosilised animals and plants are not extinct species, and all extinct species are not represented in the fossil record (unless perhaps you count sub-fossilised remains). They are distinct, though related, category trees.
  • The next question seems to be how to sub-categorize fossils (and the seperate tree of extinct species). My instinct is to not create a parallel taxo-tree. We tolerate the sparse taxo-tree categories as an exeption to the general categorization rules because of the importance it has in relation to plants & animals. But once an image is categorized under that tree (ie the fossil is in the appropriate genus or species category) there is no need to have it in a duplicate structure for fossils (or extinct species). The duplicate structure is excessive over-categorization for very few images. To find an image of the fossil of species x, look in category x (hopefully sorted under "†"), or on the gallery x under heading fossils.
  • My next radical ;-) suggestion is to not break down fossils into taxo-tree subcategories at all. The number of images certainly doesn't warrant it, and maintaining one taxo tree is quite enough work as it is. I would start by breaking it intofossils of animals, fossils of plants etc. Alternatively sub-categorization by stratigraphy/chronology would also make sense, except as noted this info seems to be seldom available.
  • Fossils' would include casts of fossils, but not sub-fossilized remains (eg moa) of extinct species. Extinct could include reconstructions, illustrations and sub-fossilized remains of extinct species. --Tony Wills (talk) 21:53, 1 September 2009 (UTC)
You can not "start to breaking it into "fossils of animals", "fossils of plants" etc.", because it is sorting fossils according to the taxonomy and it is unwanted. Do not devise strange theories because elimination categories "Fossil xxx" will be enough. Fossils belongs to organisms and they are categorized as organisms. Nothing more complicated is needed. You do not categorize Tombs according Occupation, and similarly there is no need to categorize Fossils according to the Taxonomy at all. --Snek01 (talk) 23:33, 1 September 2009 (UTC)
  • You have said create a category:Fossils of xxx when category:xxx gets too large. But where would category:Fossils of xxx lie in relation to category:Fossils - do you mean there would be a flat structure with all category:Fossils of xxx directly under Category:Fossils?
  • I disagree that you need a Category:Unidentified fossils like that for sculptures. Unidentified to what level? All fossils (that are actually identifiable as fossils) should be able to be placed somewhere in the taxo tree (eg is it a plant or animal!) --Tony Wills (talk) 23:39, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
I would prefer the transfer from Fossil ---> Extinct for the following reason. Some organisms, previously only known from fossilized state, have been recently rediscovered, e.g. the coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) or the dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides). In other words : “fossil” doesn’t always mean “extinct”. Some presently living species are also known in their fossilized state.
On the other hand “extinct” certainly doesn’t always mean “fossil”. Many species have become extinct in recent times, ”, e.g. the Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus). Or to summarize : “extinct” includes all extinct species, whether they are fossilized or not.
The “Category : Extinct species of…” should belong as a subcategory inside the “Category : (name of genus)”. The “Category : Fossils of ….” is then no longer necessary. JoJan (talk) 17:19, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
  • Extinct does no imply fossilized.
  • Fossilized does not imply extinct.
They are two seperate things, no need to combine them or have one instead of the other, we can have both. --Tony Wills (talk) 23:39, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
  • I used category:Proboscidea a while back, this particular category is a good example for anyone looking at problems or solutions. cygnis insignis 20:05, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
Currently it is like this:
[+] Fossil Proboscidea (6 C, 2 F) - delete
[+] Extinct Proboscidea (13 C, 2 F)
[+] Miocene Proboscidea (1 C, 1 F) - delete or add as a subcategory of Extinct Proboscidea, however it is overcategorization,
because we can not categeorize every animal according to its period
[+] Pleistocene Proboscidea (1 C, 1 F) - delete or add as a subcategory of Extinct Proboscidea, the same as above
[+] Proboscidea distribution maps (4 F)
[+] Deinotheriidae (2 C, 1 F)
[+] Elephantidae (6 C, 161 F)
[+] Gomphotheriidae (6 C, 2 F)
[+] Mammutidae (3 C)
[+] Moeritheriidae (2 C)
[+] Palaeomastodontidae (3 C)

It should be like this:

[+] Extinct Proboscidea (13 C, 2 F) (with sucategories Miocene Proboscidea (1 C, 1 F) and Pleistocene Proboscidea (1 C, 1 F))
[+] Proboscidea distribution maps (4 F)
[+] Deinotheriidae (2 C, 1 F)
[+] Elephantidae (6 C, 161 F)
[+] Gomphotheriidae (6 C, 2 F)
[+] Mammutidae (3 C)
[+] Moeritheriidae (2 C)
[+] Palaeomastodontidae (3 C)

OK? --Snek01 (talk) 09:57, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

If someone was looking for an image of a Proboscidea fossil, which I was, how would they find it? It is helpful to explore the categories with this in mind, Category:Sue (dinosaur) is another example, prompted by the thought-provoking comments of Dysmorodrepanis. The comments by Tony Wills are also helpful, although a different solution is what I currently have in mind.
I will return to the points at the beginning of this proposal:
  • 1) First of all: we categorize IMAGES of species according to the taxonomy, like this: Category:Animalia, Category:Mammalia, ...
    A wise move. Convenient, reasonably neutral, easily verifiable, unambiguous, etc. A bit overdone, the infrageneric ranks are occasionally too fine and numerous (overcategorised). Images is a key point to emphasize, but they contain other files as well. Any solution must accomodate this, see my reply to 4)
  • 2) Additionally we categorize these species if they are extinct or not, although we can find out this information if the species is extinct or not in the encyclopedia.
    An excellent point. 'Extinct' is a description of the taxon, not the file, redundant to information provided in wikipedias (plural). The examples given above, including hairsplitting ones, are explained in the users own language; the categories there have context and, hopefully, tacit support from reliable sources.
  • 3) We do not need to have a word "fossil" in name of categories, because every fossil species in extinct. Category Fossil Animalia would belong inside the category Extinct Animalia. Category Fossil "something" is misleading.
    I disagree, but I see the point; at some higher rank in the taxonomy, extinct would become redundant and the user is returned to the 'TOL'. This is two descriptions of the object in the file, a fossil and a taxon. The second quality may be vague or unknown, by the uploader or anyone. If we keep Category:Extinct Proboscidea, it only separates the extant Elephas, I'm no closer to finding an good image of a fossil. Category:Fossils is legitimate and would need diffusing, one way or another.
  • 4) We can categorize images of fossils. These are normal photos of fossils, some of them are unidentified.
    I agree, 'diffusing' C:Fossils by taxon was the right idea, but it went too far. One category:species I found contain only fossils, this is in a category:Genus and a Cat:Fossil Order. If other images or media is added to the category:species, the images of fossils could get the same cat instead - or a fossil cat if there is a lot of them.
  • Proposal
    Support 'Fossil Proboscidea' could perhaps be better named 'Fossils of taxon', but has anyone suggested the form 'Taxon fossils' — Category:Proboscidea fossils. cygnis insignis 20:33, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
That is neither in English nor in any other existing language. Add Babel boxes to your homepage. --Snek01 (talk) 23:52, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
Strange the comment looks to be in English as the rest of the page is?--Kevmin (talk) 04:41, 5 September 2009 (UTC)

There was a question "If someone was looking for an image of a Proboscidea fossil, which I was, how would they find it?" It is similar to already answered question "So I ask again how do you connect the images for fossil Mammuthus columbi with the main page linked Category:Fossils?". The answer was "Nohow." - Todays answer is: You will find images of fossils of Proboscidea AMONG other images of Proboscidea. You can not have such privilegium for fossils. You can not realize it unless you made taxonomic categories overcategorized. You also can not find black and white images of fossils of Proboscidea in the only one category, skulls of Proboscidea, paintings of Proboscidea, etc. Categorization scheme on Commons can not fulfill every your wish. Start to think about making a category if there are more than 200 images of the same theme, not earlier. --Snek01 (talk) 00:22, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

Define "Same theme" please--Kevmin (talk) 04:41, 5 September 2009 (UTC) Fell free to use the most widest sense/meaning for the my words. --Snek01 (talk) 11:26, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

As the debate seems to have slowed, I would like to ask for final comments. The genaeral opinion is devided as to how to fully handle the situation. It does NOT apper that merging fossil fully with extinct categories is supported, while reducing the fossil cats to higher level taxaons is. Is everyone amenable to keeping the two groups (extinct and fossil) seperate but to the compacting of the fossil cats?--Kevmin (talk) 15:09, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

One thing I do agree with is that genera with few images don't really need fossil categories yet, take Saurophaganax[2] for example, I'd say it's overcategorised and it doesn't help to have two categories, it only slows searches down. In Tyrannosaurus, on the other hand, it very helpful.[3] In this case, it certainly wouldn't work to call the sub category "extinct Tyrannosaurus", but "fossil Tyrannosaurus" or "fossilized Tyrannosaurus" is very appropriate. But due to the fact that most of these skeletons and bones are casts, and not fossils, I'm not sure if it's the right name. FunkMonk (talk) 01:18, 30 September 2009 (UTC)
But that would still confer the view that every dino skeleton in a museum is an accurate fossil. This is not correct, and we should not actively support this view. While this may seem technical at first glance, the implications are not to be taken lightly - think about the early Iguanodon "fossils", or as regards T. rex "the "how many fingers?" question. And the average user would probably not think about looking for ichnofossils in a subcategory "Fossil [taxon]".
Also, it would not get help to get rid of the wretched "fossil and extinct" system, because we need the "extinct" subtree for recent extinctions.
What about my initial idea - simply doing using neither "fossil" nor "extinct" subcategories for stem taxa? Instead, basically switching the categories as used in Category:Tyrannosaurus, i.e. moving everyting in Category:Fossil Tyrannosaurus in the main cat and creating a subcategory for reconstructions (for example; that would in this case as in most others solve the problem just as well)?
This would a) sideline the question of "fossil, accurate cast of fossil, or more or less adequate reconstruction combining fossil, cast, and any amount of inference" entirely, and b) by killing the "fossil" subcat entirely, steamline the category tree a lot.
To join the stem taxa and the "extinct" category tree together, we'd have to move some of the "Fossil [taxon]" categories to "Extinct [taxon]". E.g. Category:Tyrannosauroidea would go in "Category: Extinct Coelurosauria" (instead of Category:Fossil Coelurosauria). And in that, there would be "Category:Extinct Maniraptora" (replacing Category:Fossil Maniraptora), and in that there we could finally put Category:Extinct birds.
Because this riles me a bit - that the fossil vs extinct problem has prevented the tying together of crown and stem theropods in this part of the category tree.
And it would be the most technically accurate way I can think of. Frankly, "verifiability not truth" I crap on. In anything scientific, we should strive for "and" ;-) Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 20:59, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
Yes, Dysmorodrepanis is all right. A good example how it have to be like already exist: Category:Extinct Gastropoda. Note, for example, that all images in this category and subcategories are fossils except of one file (for now). --Snek01 (talk) 09:40, 8 October 2009 (UTC)


Category:Illustrations of Trilobita and all similar like this should be deleted also. For example every file in Category:Trilobita and in all of its subcategories are illustrations so the category Illustrations of Trilobita is an exact duplicate. --Snek01 (talk) 19:54, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

the term "Illustrations" on commons, and im most things, refers to drawings, paintings, sketches, etc... of something. The large majority of files in the Trilobita category tree are images, eg. photographs of trilobites, not illustrations of trilobites. Thus your assertion that the content is the same and the Category:Illustrations of Trilobita should be deleted is false.--Kevmin (talk) 20:02, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
Photographs are also illustrations. --Snek01 (talk) 20:06, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
And the use of the term on commons is very specific to drawings, sketches etc... Look at ANY illustrations of taxon category on commons and you will not find photgraphs.--Kevmin (talk) 20:09, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

Unilateral action by Snek01[edit]

NOTE User:Snek01 Is now unilaterally going through and redirecting all Cateegory:Fossil XXX categories to other categories against the opinion of most of the editors in this discussion! At no point was redirecting Fossil to extinct agreed to. This user is using one similer opinion as a basis for implementing his/her own personal ideas on problem involved.--Kevmin (talk) 14:43, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
I have asked him to atleast wait until there is consensus, but he completely ignores me, he won't even respond to me in edit summaries. FunkMonk (talk) 14:56, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
I am sorry if I have not answered to FunkMonk somewhere, what would you like to know? --Snek01 (talk) 15:24, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
I would like to know why you can't wait until we have consensus before creating an unstandardised mess. When we all agree on exactly what to do everywhere, feel free to do it. FunkMonk (talk) 15:48, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
No, I will not wait. I am doing it what is in agreement of all wikipedia policies and in agreement of concensus. You certainly understand, that I have wait 2 months (and meantime Kevmin continued to cause harm). It is a pity, that there is still one user, that that can not deal with a fact, that his errors are corrected. If you have any detailed question on certain edit, ask me on my talk page. If you are not familiar with the situation, then feel free to ask somebody at Commons:Administrators' noticeboard(?) who will count and evaluate opinions on this discussion for you. Then you will be sure, that you are doing the right thing. --Snek01 (talk) 16:15, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
You're missing the point. There is not consensus about what to rename the fossil categories as and which ones to replace, therefore what you're doing right now is just messing things up, since "fossils of" categories might not be what we agree on as the name. We should at least have a vote before you go out and create a bunch of redirects. Right now, there is not even any media in the categories you have created, so we can't use these categories before you're done renaming them all, which might take months. You're being a bit too eager, better let it be slow and thought through than rushed and messy. We could even have a bot do the job ten times faster than any editor, when we have consensus on what to do. FunkMonk (talk) 16:24, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
You're missing the point. If an stupid user will start hundreds of stupid categories, then you will be talking for years. Does not matter he asked nobody for concensus? Does not matter that it does not follow Commons guidelines? That stupid one will continue his stupidity and you will be still talking. Meantime there is possible to do nothing? Feel free to continue to talking if you like it. I do not share this your strategy to do nothing. You will solve this if you want to or to do nothing if you like certain state. But now you see that certain state will not last forever. I gave you an advice what do do if you are not able to solve it by yourself. You can still use it. Good luck. Now you have no chance to convice me by words in the same way as you had no chance to change previous state by words. Why are you asking this now? Why you did not asked it at start of the discussion? "Hey, user, could you stop this and that until it will be solved?" That would paralyze the project. But a bad solution paralyzes it also. Are we helpless if an active user will decide to start something in bad? Have to we criticize changes? I am not helpless. When and user is not able to acknowledge his mistakess, then you are completelly helpless. I will ignore questions addressed to me but I am glad in discussion that focus on subject. All what could be said in this discussion was said. Now its time to make some decisions. --Snek01 (talk) 22:36, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

I have gone through Snek01's edits and reverted SOME and altered SOME, I kept the rest, which follow the consensus that was reached here that lower taxonomic level, eg. species, fossil categories are, with exceptions, over categorization. Snek01, you have been asked twice, once by me , and once by FunkMonk to not unilaterally impose your category scheme on the fossil cats at this point because the discussion has shown that the higher levels at least should be retained. If you continue to impose your scheme without consensus this matter will be taken to W:AN/I. In the mean time please read en:Wikipedia:CIVIL--Kevmin (talk) 08:47, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

Note by Tiptoety[edit]

I have been asked to attempt to calm this storm and determine what consensus, if any, is here. Let me start by saying I am human. That said, I am going to be honest and say I did not understand half of the conversation that took place above. I consider myself educated, by not in relation to taxonomy, and many of the more technical words / terms made it hard to really follow the discussion. Now. What I have noticed is that everyone agrees the current system is not working, and needs to be improved.

So, this is the help I need:

  1. A knowledgeable person who can "translate" some of the more technical stuff into "simpler" English;
  2. Someone to go through and list each of the proposals (as far as I can tell, there are three) in "policy speak." Meaning, it could be voted on and placed directly into policy as is. From there, I will set up a more organized form of discussion where someone can actually judge consensus. Tiptoety talk 01:44, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Overview by Snek01

Historical overview:

  • There was no previous discussion about this, so there spontaneously evolved overlapping categories.
  • There was not much participants in discussion in last two months, although there was an effort to announce it (messages to other wikipedians, messages to administrators on their board).
  • There is CFD template with Commons:Categories for discussion at 62 categories (and can be added to more if needed) to attract attention.


  • 1) Overcategorization COM:OVERCAT. -> delete categories that violate this rule.
    • Categories Extinct something and Fossil/Fossils of something are partly overlapping. And category Fossil/Fossils of something itself is violating overcatgorization rule with standard categories of taxa.
    • Snek01's proposal: Rename Fossil something to "Extinct something". There can be categories Fossils of unidentified something and there can be Fossils of SPECIES. ("SPECIES" is certain scientific name of a species). There can not be categories Fossils of HIGHER TAXON because they tends to be duplicite with scientific names of categories and they are completelly or with very high ammount of duplicite in organisms, that are known from fossils only.
  • 2) Misleading name of category. -> rename category to the most accurate name. (Commons:Categories#For more appropriate categorization)
    • Category Fossil something is misleading and have to renamed (according to the guide) to category Fossils of something
      • There is concensus for such name in unidentified fossils. Correct name: Category:Unidentified fossils of Plantae
      • There is possibility to rename every category Fossil something to category Fossils of something. ("something" means name of taxon). This renaming should be applied to categories that will be evalueated to keep. (there will certainly be some)
  • 3) Commons:Naming categories: Names of Commons categories should be optimized for readers over editors; and for a general audience over specialists.
    • Snek01's principle: Categories of organism are exactly according to the scientific classification of organism. Every new category have to be compatible with this scientific classification and also with Commons:Categories guidelines. If there is not possible for a new category to conform to these minimum standards, then such category can not be created. --Snek01 (talk) 12:35, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
  • 4) Problem of method of creation of an image.
    • There is not solved the illustration problem. Category talk:Illustrations ("Illustration" is completelly synonymous with an "image" and includes also photographs and drawings.) Missleading names are not recommended, see above.
    • If (this must be decided) there is scientific classification main categorizing scheme, then dividing images of organisms into photos and drawing and other types of images is very minor task. It is usually useful to have an drawing of an animal and a photo of an animal together. See for example Category:Wiwaxia.
    • Making of an exact duplication of taxonomical tree with separate tree of Photos of something and Illustration of something and so on is high overcategorization. There can be different categorization schemes, but it should be complementary and there should be a reasonable and useful ammount of categories with appropriate names. --Snek01 (talk) 12:35, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Overview by Kevmin

Historical overview: As I do not know what terminology was unfamiliar to User:Tiptoey I will put in a couple of definitions first.

  • Extinction is the death of every member of a species or group of taxa.
  • Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals, plants, and other organisms from the remote past.

An important note on these two terms is that they are NOT considered interchangeable in the sciences and they do mean different things: eg: the Golden toad is extinct but is not found as fossils, Ginkgo biloba is a living species and there are fossil fossils found (and posted on commons).

  • I will also not that many of the category structures in use on commons were started without discussion of a group, especially the more specialized areas
  • As the person who spent the vast majority of time and effort, though by no means am I the only one to have created Fossil xxx categories, I will freely admit that up until a few months ago the structure was over categorized. By this I mean that there were too many layers of cats included, and starting in August I was working at reducing the overcategorization, (see:Category:Fossil Insecta).
  • COM:OVERCAT does not apply in this circumstance as the category structures are grouping media according three different, though related, concepts. As I already stated it is wrong, and bad science, to say that extinct equals fossil and the two should be merged. Plus it is wrong to say the extinct/fossil categories are COM:OVERCAT due to them following the most logical way of diffusion of media in the categories, that of grouping by type (plant, animal, etc...).
  • I expanded the Category:Fossil structure do the serious undercategorization that was present when I first started working in it. At that time, with only part of the fossil images on commons in it, its consisted of over 400 images all in the single category. By commons guidelines it was appropriate to create subcategories to diffuse the media, and the natural groups that the diffuse to are the taxonomic groups e.g. fossil plants, fossil animals, trace fossils, etc.
  • There is general agreement that the current name structure for the fossil categories is poor. I will note that most paleontologists refer to specimens as a "fossil ginkgo leaf" or a "ginkgo fossil". Rarely is the phrasing "fossil of" used. If the names are to be changed structurally then the appropriate format should be "xxx fossils" (e.g. Category:Animalia fossils).
  • The suggestion that the fossil image be categorized according to age and location found is already in place and used on the media in commons which has the needed information. However the larger portion of the images do not have such information included and thus are not categorizable this way, maintaining the necessity of the fossil categories.
  • The argument that the name fossil is misleading as there are a number of casts/replicas in the category, is easily solved with a note that the category includes real fossils along with casts. In many cases there are no definite ways to tell the casts from the real fossils, and as the general public will regard them as the same it makes sense to include them together. This also is a rather small problem overall, limited mainly to popular vertebrates such as mammals and dinosaurs and almost nonexistent in the fossil plants, and invertebrates such as arthropods. Thus the overall amount of media which falls in problem area is only a small portion of the entirety of the media included in the fossil category structure.
  • The proposal to merge the extinct and fossil category's into on structure brings up several notable problems.

1) If the two are merged and the Fossil cats are used only for unidentified fossils that leaves Category:Fossils, which is the third link of the "Content by topic" section on the main page, compete divorced from the vast majority of content which should be in it. 2) If someone is searching for all the images of fossil plesiosaurs, under the merger, they are forced to sort through every category level to find them, as the the images will spread out to the appropriate genera/species, but in no place grouped as a whole.


  • The three category structures (extinct, fossil, taxonomy) should be retained, with the Fossil section being scaled back As was done in Category:Fossil Insecta.
  • If the fossil categories are to be renamed, the "xxx Fossils" format is the logical choice falling in line with other cat. structes in commons (e.g. Category:Spheres).
  • The overcat argument as being used to promote the merger of the categories is not applicable as the structures are organizing two different concepts.

Response by Tiptoety[edit]

Response by Tiptoety: Sorry for not giving this my full attention, I have been unable to commit any time to Wikimedia as of recent but my schedule is clearing up slightly. What I have read above helps. Now, the next step is for each of you to clearly write up a proposal of how you want the categories to be named. Like I said before, do this in "policy speak." Write it up as if you were going to paste it onto a policy, then well will have a vote and a discussion surrounding each of your proposals. Tiptoety talk 06:36, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

Proposal by Kevmin

Regarding the three category structures involved in this discussion:

The taxonomic structure has set policies and practices and as such is not effected by this discussion

Extinct organism categories: These categories should be retained as a separate category tree and maintained as metacategories to which taxonomic cats for extinct taxa can be added when created. Images should not be added to this structure but categorized into applicable categories such as taxonomic categories.

Fossil organism categories: These categories should be retained (with appropriate overcategorization reduction) for gathering organizing images of fossil and fossil replicas in commons as is being done now. Subcategories in the Fossil structure should be created when diffusion of images in a category is required, using taxonomic group divisions as the most logical organizational method. New categories and the currently existing categories should be renamed to the format "xxx fossils" or "xxx fossils and replicas" as these are the most common term structures used when discussing fossil organisms.

misc comments[edit]

Hey guys, Snek01 recently messaged me as I had been making some edits to the fossil dinosaur catrgories and I wasn't aware that this discussion is still ongoing. Let me just say I don't have a dog in the naming fight. I don't care what the categories are called, and can see both pros and cons for keeping the fossil section separate from other media related to these animals. What I'm concerned with is the ridiculous over-categorization that was carried out by Kevmin when he first created this system. As Dysmorodrepanis pointed out above, many (I'd say close to 80%) of the categories among fossil birds and dinosaurs are endless nested trees, often to contain a single file. Obviously, this is the exact opposite of what categories should do. I've been merging them with the philosophy that a category should at least contain three or four sub-categories and/or images. It is utterly ridiculous to set up a category for Hesperornithiformes, Hesperornithidae, and Hesperornis, all containing a single image. This is madness people. Categories are for ease of categorization, not to construct pseudo-phylogenies (especially for monospecific taxa!). I don't think there is any debate on this point, but if there is, I suggest you think long and hard about what the purpose of categories is. When I'm looking for pictures of fossil birds, I don't want to have to drill down through five empty pahes to see one image. I want to see many related images grouped by some common denominator (taxonomy, in this case, but not one more detailed than the current number of images required) side by side. I will also point out that Kevmin set up the current system unilaterally, so when he complains that others are altering his system without consultation, it's a bit hypocritical. Categories are utilities used by many other people and he should have consulted them (us) before creating this mess. Dinoguy2 (talk) 17:09, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

  • We do not need a parallel taxonomic structure for fossils (fossil xyzs/fossil of xyz) any more than we do for say baby creatures or green creatures (ie we would not create Category:Baby Elephantidae under Category:Baby Proboscidea etc). (NB I am using category baby animals as an analogous example only, it has nothing to do with fossils!). Fossils, and artists impressions of plants and animals can be categorised in the appropriate taxonomic category (eg Category:Elephantidae). Additionally fossils should be categorised under Category:Fossils, or Category:Artist's impression or Category:Young animals or whatever, as appropriate. If the categories Fossils, Artist's impression, or Young animals get too full, then sub-divide them, but only as strictly needed - keep the structure as flat as possible, deep nesting doesn't help at all. And if you can not find any other basis to sub-divide them on (like chronology), do it using names like Category:Fossil birds not Category:Fossil Aves. Remember TOL might use latin names for the taxonomic tree of life, but all other categories on Commons use English names, and we do not want to maintain redundant parallel trees of categories. --Tony Wills (talk) 06:05, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
Tiptoety noted that he will be addressing this topic and comeing to a resolution hopefully in the near future.--Kevmin (talk) 20:35, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

Oxalis regnellii, Oxalis triangularis[edit]

Oxalis triangularis has been tagged for merging into Oxalis regnellii. Although some popular sources appear to support this merge, I can't find any major botanical sources that give justification for this. Further, Oxalis triangularis A. St.-Hil. (Fl. Bras. Merid. 1: 102, 1825) is an older name than Oxalis regnellii Miq. (Linnaea 22: 545, 1849). I propose removing the merge tags, unless anyone can offer any convincing additional info. Please leave any comments either here or at Talk:Oxalis regnellii - MPF (talk) 21:28, 25 August 2009 (UTC)

Locality request[edit]

Would it be useful to place a (multilingual) template Template:Locality or Template:Locality needed or Template:Locality missing requesting locality into files with unidentified organisms? Some files in Category:Unidentified organisms have no locality, which could help to identify them. --Snek01 (talk) 16:27, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

This would be very useful. The uploader is likely to be the only person able to supply that information, so the request should be directed to them. The users could be sent measages, found from the 'unidentified' categories, or reminded in the ownwork form. cygnis insignis 16:40, 8 September 2009 (UTC)
I thought, that template could mark the image, that there is missing location. Users often have their files on watchlist, so it could be enough. Robot could inform users (after some time, after a week or few) on their talk page, that locality is needed. Consider, if template could be only for organism or if localities are needed for other files also (outside the coverage of WikiProject Tree of Life). It is just a proposal, feel free to do it anyhow. --Snek01 (talk) 00:14, 9 September 2009 (UTC) There is similar template Template:Description missing. --Snek01 (talk) 10:28, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

{{VN}} and {{Translation table}}[edit]

Just a small comment to tell that

  • I don't like calls to {{VN}} and {{Translation table}} on one line.
    Merging multiple {{VN}} on one line that coming from different sources (a species cat + its species article + the result of my own generator) is very long and boring.
    As merging is my principal jobs, I really prefer the form:
  • I also don't like {{VN}} and {{Translation table}} with empty parameters like |en= |fr=...
    1. it is uselessly long
    2. I find it insulting for languages that are forgotten

Cheers Liné1 (talk) 12:15, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

... I agree completely. The inline form in the editing page is not to work well for further additions. Greetings. Orchi (talk) 12:28, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Accidental bird sighting image confirmed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service[edit]

More than 3 years ago, I photographed a Neotropical Cormorant at DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge which is located in both the U.S. states of Iowa and Nebraska.

Neotropical cormorant DeSoto NWR.jpg

I had incorrectly identified the image as a Double crested Cormorant when I uploaded it. In June of this year, User:MPF saw that the image was incorrectly identified and informed me and also asked if I was certain that I had taken the image where I had claimed since the Neotropical Cormorant was not listed on the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge's birdlist. I stated that I was certain that I had taken the image at DeSoto and found another image of the same bird in flight taken one minute later, according to the images metadata. Discussion regarding the image can be found on my talk page...

After contacting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at DeSoto, they informed me of the following via email...

I thought we had gotten back to you about the cormorant, but evidently you got lost in the shuffle here. Anyway, I forwarded your original e-mail to a birder I know that is beyond reproach and he feels that it is a neotropical cormorant and so do I. He suggests that you submit it to the Nebraska or Iowa records committee for verification. Thanks for letting us know about this, it is always neat to hear about an unusual sighting. Mindy Sheets, Deputy Refuge Manager, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge

I am in the process of informing the appropriate agencies in both Iowa and Nebraska about this rare bird sighting, however based on MPF's knowledge base in such matters as well as the concurrance of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife representative above, it seems unlikely that there will be anyone who will end up disagreeing with the above assessment. A sincere thanks to MPF for taking the time to correctly identify this bird species as well as to Wsiegmund for his assistance and for doing a fine job reediting the image.--MONGO (talk) 23:18, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

Congratulations! - MPF (talk) 06:43, 30 September 2009 (UTC)
Good work all round :-) --Tony Wills (talk) 09:04, 30 September 2009 (UTC)
It seems to me that one of the strengths of Commons is that it facilitates collaborations, thereby enabling the generation of new knowledge, as in this instance. This example demonstrates the importance of good image descriptions, including geocoding, that enhance the value of contributed images. Also, it reminds us of the importance of the careful work of MPF, and others, in reviewing the accuracy of image descriptions. Congratulations, MONGO and MPF! Since rare bird sightings are of some general interest, and the circumstances of this one involve an international collaboration (US-UK) facilitated by Commons, I wonder if it would merit a press release? Walter Siegmund (talk) 15:17, 30 September 2009 (UTC)
Cool! Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 22:04, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

The Omaha, NE chapter of the National Audubon Society as well as the State of Nebraska and Iowa chapters have chimed in and they concur that the neotropical cormorant is a very rare sighting for the region...they have asked for the rights to use the images for their records, which, since I usually upload my images to the PD, was of course granted. Thanks again to MPF for taking the time to correct my original species label and for his suggestion I contact the authorities regarding this sighting...they all seemed pretty excited about it, for the record...I suppose if anyone thinks this is Commons or newsworthy, feel free to inform them of it.--MONGO (talk) 00:34, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

Nice! - MPF (talk) 09:52, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

Multispecies lithograph plates etc[edit]

I am fiddling around with some lithograph plates, racking them up to this (with many related content) or this (if less related media present) layout. I thought about categorization, since most of them will eventually have the single images extracted, which will lead to A LOT of images.

So what I am trying is this. Take for example this plate, from which the single images have all been extracted. With the layout used, this is clearly verifiable. Instead of putting the entire plate in categories where the single images are, I categorized it just once, at the level of the least inclusive taxon that includes all organisms depicted on the plate. In the more specific categories, it is clutter; the extracted image backlinks to it and it is easily enough accessed thus. In the one "last common ancestry" category it is very useful for illustrating Wikipedia articles on that taxon etc.

I have also added the "last common ancestry" cat by default. Even if no image is extracted, these plates are cases-in-point to a taxon's diversity. In the hummingbird example, you can see that I have not deleted cats for that are already extracted. I'll only do that if all content is extracted, as not to confuse anyone who wants to rv if you think this approach to deal with the litho plate content etc sucks.

I shall use the standard format for taxonomic identification in the extracted plates also (check the above examples linked). Luckily the "source" param is mandatory, though as you'll note most don't have a fancy backlink. I have not thought about a good layout for the extracted pix' infoboxes, nor do I think I will soon. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 22:04, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

In general I think it is fine to have them in multiple specific species categories, I don't think of it as clutter as the category is a hold-all including different versions of the same image, old revisions etc. So it is little different from having an original photograph of something and a better crop in the same category. Making a special case for the multispecies lithograph plates doesn't really make sense in terms of how the rest of commons is organised (or dis-organised ;-). But having said all that, I don't think it is important either way if all images are already extracted and point to the source :-) --Tony Wills (talk) 23:12, 5 October 2009 (UTC)
Well, for one thing, it is certainly not the same as multiple versions of a single-species file a la Category:Pitta elegans. Should File:Haeckel Lacertilia.jpg, File:Haeckel Lacertilia labels.jpg and perhaps even File:Haeckel Lacertilia text.JPG all remain in Category:Moloch horridus (where, I note, nobody has ever thought of putting them) even after the M. horridus content has been extracted? What use or purpose should this motley and entirely unnatural assemblage of "reptiles" serve in the category of a specific iguanid species, except as a temporary measure to denote extraction should be done?
Also, even what I propose technically violates COM:OVERCAT which basically boils down to "either one catch-all category in the taxonomic tree or multiple species-specific categories, but never both". But as I propose it, this violation is only temporary, and as soon as everything has been extracted, categorization of the main image and its parts conforms with the SOP.
The problem needs to be tackled. With all the content racking up at the Biodiversity Heritage Library, we have literally 10000s of such lithos at our mercy. Biologia Centrali-Americana alone should provide about 600 plates, many of them multi-species! Either we develop a working policy now (I am indiscriminate in what plates I try and get an ID on; this'll help me to get an idea of the scope of the categorization work involved) or we'll be faced with an unsurmountable problem in 1-2 years' time (since the taxonomy on these old works is often so far off the mark, each single one of them must be handled manually).
And sooner or later, someone of the folks who think in categories like "green animals" will start to bitch about violating COM:OVERCAT, and if we don't have a good excuse for the redundant categorization (e.g. "it's only temporary, til the extracting is done, and YOU can HELP with that!"), COM:TOL has a problem.
In any case, I am make better progress than expected. Some taxa I skip entirely (birds, fishes, lepidopterans and some marine inverts it is for me, mainly), but Category:Kunstformen der Natur (1904) is getting along nicely. Things like File:Haeckel Thoracostraca.jpg are outrageously complex, but they are a minority. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 16:29, 6 October 2009 (UTC)
Addition re: making exceptions - if multispecies plates are to be contained in the species' categories even after complete extraction of what can be extracted, there'll be exceptions regardless, and they'll be permanent (according to my approach, exceptions would be non-permanent, only exist as long as content remains unertacted). Or should we keep File:Haeckel Gorgonida.jpg in whatever category applies to Swiftia, Euplexaura parciclados, Junceella juncea and Ctenocella barbadensis after these had the dawing of their spicules extracted? I mean, they're fricking spicules! Very useful to have as separate images, but does the fact that they are on this plate justify putting the entire plate and the extracted picture in the species category?

My proposal is like this:

Undercategorizes the information contained in the plates as a whole; such works were not assembled randomly in most cases. Consider for example File:Haeckel Thoracostraca.jpg and File:F de Castelnau-insectesPl02.jpg - the "Developmental biology" and "Mimicry"/"Animals of SAm" categories are very useful even now. This affects a considerable number of plates. Even something like File:Haeckel Florideae.jpg for example is very interesting in its own right, because it shows you at a single glance a rather representative selection of Floridophyceae diversity.
And this will mean that images will always be put back in categories on the taxonomic tree, because many users think as long as there is no OVERCAT, an image can't have too many categories... and COM:C supports this: OVERCAT refers explicitly only to images that are categorized twice in the same "topic branch" of the category tree without a very good reason. Category policy allows one category for every unrelated topic that applies to an image - e.g. Category:Green animals (colour branch) and Hyla arborea (scientific taxonomic branch) and Category:Frogs (folk taxonomy branch) and Category:Amphibia sex (reproduction branch) are all OK for a single image of mating Common Treefrogs.
Also, it would force us to recategorise almost all multispecies plates, as it totally reverses the SOP we had. And this is probably a huge workload, as the whole taxonomic category tree would need to be browsed manually... Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 05:25, 7 October 2009 (UTC)
Yes, there are also special cases useful as a whole as mentioned above, then it is possible to categorize it in categories of species or in one collective category of one larger taxon. It depends on situation of certain image. There is possible to recommend an universal advice: avoid adding many categories, (many is empirical and can vary for example from is more than ~five(?) to ~ten(?)). --Snek01 (talk) 12:25, 7 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Images extracted from plates should be categorized as usual and also by a source. There will be some links to original plate, because it will be documented what is the extracted file derived from.
Agree. I have already tagged all the extracted Kunstformen images I have reviewed using {{extracted from| [source filename] }}. I have not added infoboxes to these images if they have none, but the tag works like a charm either way (nice work whoever made it!). Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 05:25, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

--Snek01 (talk) 17:18, 6 October 2009 (UTC)

Yes, they should be. The {{extract image}} tag will automatically do this. But the tag is rather new, and the backlog for image extraction is massive. So even though every plate can technically be tagged automatically (a bot would probably best go and see whether "{{extract image}}" or "{{image extracted|" tags are present, and if not add the "extract" tag), this might do more harm than good: a) there are plates from which single-species images have already been extracted, but this is not properly tagged and b) not all plates are multispecies but a bot can't tell. So I think while tagging for extraction is the way to go, it should be done manually or semi-manually (manually reviewing the candidate images first, then adding the tag by script or bot). Otherwise, we'll rack up far too many false negatives (which is a pity for us) and false positives (which will make the extraction people angry at us).
Also, I think that "no" (except when we desperately need some specific image) extractions should be done until the taxonomy has been verified. It can be extremely wild, e.g. File:Nemastoma cervicorne.png - for one thing Argardh's name is a junior synonym, for another the genus-species combination was rarely ever used before the taxon was sunk into synonymy, and last but not least Haeckel mis-spells cervicornis... File:Haeckel Ophiodea 70 Astrophyton darwinium.jpg is also an interesting case; the taxon is a nomen dubium and completely unidentifiable even to genus - but by now the Web "knows" it is valid: our filename has spread far and wide because it looks sooooo authoritative... Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 05:25, 7 October 2009 (UTC)
Yes, Dysmorodrepanis is right. I would like to start these very few categories. (For example for Gastropoda is useful to distinguish only extracted and unectracted plates.)

The same very few categories as above could be for already extracted images also (as an archive because unexctracted plates are not much useful).

Is it OK? Any other ideas? --Snek01 (talk) 12:25, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

Well, for a start I have tweaked File:Haeckel Trochilidae.jpg a bit. As you can see, it contains now links to scans. (BTW I would advise anyone to replace the "plate [number], containing images of [taxon]" in Kunstformen file descrs like I did if you ever see it. Most of these taxa are outdated or synonyms. Trochilidae is an exception.)

Also, I have added specific extraction requests, as you can see. I think this is OK at least as an initial measure. As regards extraction requests - no matter what categories we use (and nobody has made any similar categories yet, which is unusual), there are already 850 requests on the backlog, and I don't really think ours will be processed any quicker if we stick it in some other category. The advantage, though, would be that more of the specific content is visible to anyone who browses through the categories.

For the record, we have, very crudely and conservatively, 2500-3000 files in Category:Botanical illustrations and perhaps half again as many in Category:Zoological illustrations. How many are of Gastropoda? Has their taxonomy been checked? I only have Kerney & Cameron (1979), which is no big help. Is there a comprehensive modern resource down to species level (and beyond)? Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 05:17, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

There is very few plates for gastropods (few tens, I think about 20, certainly less than 100) on Commons. All plates of gastropods, which are now on Commons, are not much useful. Images originating from plates outside the commons (from are uploaded directly cropped and retouched. Thus you can start these two categories for gastropods and use plates of gastropods as an example and/or as testing point. Low number of them is an advantage. --Snek01 (talk) 11:43, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

Hmmm, how about this approach:

General procedures for scans of lithograph plates and similar content

  • All new plates (no matter whether extractionable or not) go in the appropriate subcategory of Category:Biological illustrations.
  • At first, they only receive a general (least common denominator) category in the taxon tree.
  • As soon as taxon ID is verified, they also receive the categories appropriate for the specific taxa. If the category is not unequivocal (i.e. above genus for most identified taxa), <!-- annotate --> for what taxon/taxa in the plate it applies.
  • Any non-illustration and non-taxon tree categories (geology/geography, mimicry, "green animals", ...) are added as desired.

Image extraction from multitaxon content

  • As soon as someone needs an extraction, the images are tagged with the {{extract}} or {{extract|...}} tag in the header. This will automatically assign them to Category:Images requiring extraction (a hidden category).
Note that if you want to make subcategories there, you'll probably have to create a modified version of Template:Extract image for each subcategory. E.g. {{extract-gastropod|...}}. This is probably the reason why there are no subcategoriesy yet.
  • When tagging taxonomically unreviewed content for extraction, be sure to add {{query species}} in the header.
  • Automated tagging after editor review and taxonomic inspection is OK though. If a lot of extraction work is required, automatically mass-tagging before starting is encouraged (so that people who want to assist take note). No "blind" bot/script mass tagging of images for extraction, though.


  • Add the taxonomic information and what else is needed from the original image to the extracted image (for consistency - update original images' info first if desired).
  • Add {{image extracted|...}} to original image description.
  • If necessary, add {{query species}} to extracted image's header. Do not remove it from the original image.
  • Place extracted image in appropriate category in taxonomic tree.
  • Remove that category in original image (if it is not annotated to apply to other taxa too)
This is different to what I proposed earlier. It conforms with COM:NOTOC and also helps for species-rich plates, where visual crowding of categories makes use and editing harder than it could be. A bit more maintenance work for us, but see below.
  • Add {{extracted from|...}} to original image description.

If all extractable parts of a plate have been extracted

I would however consider making tags for this analogous to the {{extract}}, e.g. {{extract complete}} or such. Without the displayed infobox of course, as the information is already provided by the {{image extracted|...}} tags. I would use a more flexible name for the categories, e.g. Category:Completed image extractions (Animals).
  • Do not remove the remaining taxon tree category (there should be only one left, that for all taxa together).
Despite most of them not being critically useful, a large number of the multispecies plates are very useful indeed (for showing diversity, mimicry patterns, habits and so on). And few if any of the categories in question are cluttered - we usually have too few of such "generic" images for higher-level taxa.
But mostly, the SOP is that all content within the scope of COM:TOL has at least one taxon-tree category. If we remove even the common-denominator category after completed extractions, we'll still see the files popping back ever so often: many users will presume that they should categorized just like all other COM:TOL content and restore the category or even add that ugly (and stupid as a brick) "check categories" tag. Also, those unextracted plates whose taxa do not have categories to at least genus level are gonna be in a higher category anyway, adding to the confusion.

For extractions done before taxon review

  • If either original or extracted image is properly identified, be sure to copy the information to the other.
  • Adding {{rename|...}} to the extracted image is probably necessary.
  • Adjusting categories in extracted image is possibly necessary.
This is where removing the specific category from the original after each extraction will decrease the amount of follow-up work.
  • {{query species}} can possibly be removed.

Maybe I've forgotten something; if so I'll add.

This approach should be 100% conforming to the rules and guidelines of Commons and TOC, and easy to understand even for new ppl, and a powerful tool for experienced users, and requires not a huge lot of work from where we are at today to be implemented fully.

Hey Snek01, here's how your category idea might work:

Note the

{{#if: {{{name|}}} | [[Category:{{{name|}}} from Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary]] | [[Category:Images from Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary]]}} [emphasis added]

in Template:PD-Brockhaus&Efron (click "edit").

This will put any file with the tag "{{PD-Brockhaus&Efron|name=Tables}}" in Category:Tables from Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary and all those that use the tag without "name=" - {{PD-Brockhaus&Efron}} - in Category:Images from Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary.

You have to create the "name" castegories yourself. But they only consist of a link back to the mother category (Category:Images from Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary in this case). That means the number of "name" categories and their arrangement is not limited, and can be changed freely at any time. Cool, no?

So if you put similar code in the {{image extracted}} and {{extract}} and {{extracted from}} tags, a system just like you propose can indeed be built and I think it will work very smoothly and help a lot. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 21:11, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

A note on taxon authors in pre-ICBN/ICZN works[edit]

When it comes to extracting images from these plates diuscussed above, it is always helpful to list the taxon authors in the description. With the new "advanced" edit window code that allows access to the <small> and <br /> code, it is really easy now (great job BTW!).

For plants, I'd think it is really necessary to list the authors - and perhaps even that date (though it's not strictly required) if this is given or can be figured out.

It is highly troublesome (at least often) to find what name is used for a taxon today, particularly in zoology. Botanists need not rejoice, it does not get easier for them either.

In the times preceding the codes of nomenclature, there was no real system that was used by everyone, but most authors something similar to can be seen in this plate by Heackel:

Consider for example Sarsia tubulosa. This was originally described as Oceania tubulosa by Sars himself. So why does Heackel mention Lesson? Well, because Lesson established the genus Sarsia. And perhaps (I have not yet figured this out completely) because he actually put O. tubulosa there.

So what Haeckel does is to list not the original author as per the ICB/ZN as nowadays, but either the author of the combination he cites, or the genus' author (who made that comb. nov. available, even if they did not propose it explicitly yet). One would have to check the citation history of these names - I ain't gonna do that. Perhaps somebody knows already.

In any case, it helps to think of it as a truncated version of the ICBN citation format. Basically, convert the name - that old name, not how it is accurately called today! - to how it would be according to ICBN standard, remove the author with parentheses that may be present, and put parentheses around the remaining author.

In entomology, the parentheses are often not addded. They might also have used a slightly different system, but if there's a single author or author team within parentheses, it is usually best to test whether it's not the system described here.

I don't know, though, whether it was used for plants as much as for animals. The two taxonomic traditions have been different since "Linnaeus" (I think older zoologists did in fact often use "L." too. I think I saw "(L.)" quite often in old butterfly books). Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 19:26, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

After File:Haeckel Tetracoralla.jpg (which should get a {{check}} tag at a few taxa, but we don't have this here O_O) I am under the impression that it is the person who made the comb. nov. (as in botany) rather than the one who set up the cited genus. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 21:51, 10 October 2009 (UTC)

Category:Kunstformen der Natur (1904)[edit]

Hi, I have reviewed and updated the taxonomy on these. I am not 100% sure in some cases (damn radiolaria! Haeckel surely named anything that differed but a little a new species!), but in such cases I usually simply left them indeterminate as to species, and only listed the genus or family.

Thus, there are now about a thousand high-quality illustrations (mainly of invertebrates) waiting to be tagged for extraction... :) Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 12:22, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

Interfaces between TOL taxonomy and "common" category trees[edit]

I noticed on several occasions interfacing problems between TOL taxonomy and "common" category trees. The TOL taxonomy structure is probably the most important scientific category tree on commons with its (guesstimated) 20 000 categories, but it unavoidably has to interface with the many other category trees that are formed by the other 750 000 categories. As I noticed a significant amount of changing back and forwards from those interfaces, along with merging and unmerging of categories, and to avoid waste of energy and edit wars, I think that it becomes time to clarify a number of problems. Below, there is a preamble that is a copy of a discussion with user talk:Ies, followed by two major questions on which I would like very much your opinion:

  • are species categories to be a subcat of "common names" categories or the other way round ?
  • do we have to keep species categories well isolated from "common naming" categories such as category:dogs

In order to avoid endless debates, I tried to formulate a number of voting positions on practical cases. It is important to realise that the latin taxonomy names are only known by few people and the majority of people will get in commons naming categories and make easily mistakes in taxonomy schemes. I appreciate all thoughtful reactions. --Foroa (talk) 18:45, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

That is not Latin taxonomy but these are scientific names. --Snek01 (talk) 19:09, 29 October 2009 (UTC)


Hi, I am convonced that the natural category order is product/clothing --> Textile/linen -->> Fiber/flax --> species/linum xxx So, if you don't agree on it, please discuss it first. --Foroa (talk) 15:52, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

In species categories, you start with the top first as well. --Foroa (talk) 15:53, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

If I follow your logic "One needs Linum usitatissimum to make flax, so Linum usitatissimum must be the base category", then we have to reorganise commons as people --> house --> streets --> cities --> countries. --Foroa (talk) 15:57, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

One needs stones to get stone crosses. So Category:Stones is the parent category and Category:Stone crosses is the child category. In other words: Category:Stone crosses is categorized with Category:Stones.
One needs the bee Apis mellifera to get honey. So Category:Apis mellifera is the parent category and Category:Honey is the child category. In other words: Category:Honey is categorized with Category:Apis mellifera.
One needs the plant Solanum tuberosum to get potatoes. So Category:Solanum tuberosum is the parent category and Category:Potatoes is the child category. In other words: Category:Potatoes is categorized with Category:Solanum tuberosum.
One needs the plant Linum usitatissimum to get flax. So Category:Linum usitatissimum is the parent category and Category:Flax is the child category. In other words: Category:Flax must be categorized with Category:Linum usitatissimum. You however categorize this upside down!
Of course you're right that the natural category order is product/clothing --> Textile/linen --> Fiber/flax --> species/Linum usitatissimum. However, whenever I categorize what you suggest you revert my edits. Kindly examine your and my edits again to understand that you're wrong. -- Ies (talk) 18:24, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

(Indent reset) I think that there is some mistake in your logic. In Commons, as far as I know, most categorisation is done in a top (highest order/highest level of abstraction) --> down (lowest order) fashion, such as culture --> Cuisine --> Food --> Basic food/vegetable ingredients --> species (all notations in this text are highest level parent categories left, lowest level subcategories right).

I call "your" order as you want in flax (and use in Category:Potatoes) , a reverse order, because you like to see it as species --> Basic food/vegetable ingredients --> Food --> cuisine --> culture. I think that the logic inversion comes from your logic that states: "because you need the plant species to get flax, potatoes, .., it is the parent category", so flax and potatoes are subcategories. In all examples I will enumerate below, all subcategories are members/belong to/make part of/ the parent category.

  • continent --> country --> province/state/district --> city --> hamlets
  • economy --> manufacturers --> car brands --> cars --> car wheels/engines/parts
  • product/clothing --> textile/linen --> fiber/flax --> species/Linum usitatissimum
  • Regnum: Plantae--> Clade: Angiosperms --> Clade: Eudicots--> Clade: Core eudicots --> Clade: Rosids--> Clade: Eurosids I --> Ordo: Malpighiales --> Familia: Linaceae --> Genus: Linum --> Species: Linum usitatissimum
When looking in Category:Linum usitatissimum, the end node of the two chains, its parent categories are Genus:Linum and Flax, so correct.
When looking at your potato example, there is something inconsistent between the taxonomy chain and the food chain: potatoes is the child/subcat of vegetables/crop (belong to/higher level) and Category:Solanum tuberosum (potatoes need that + water + cultivation + sunshine)  :
  • Clade: Angiosperms--> Clade: Eudicots --> Clade: Core eudicots--> Clade: Asterids--> Clade: Euasterids I --> Ordo: Solanales --> Familia: Solanaceae --> Subfamilia: Solanoideae --> Tribus: Solaneae --> Genus: Category:Solanum tuberosum --> potatoes
  • Cuisine ---> food --> food ingredients --> vegetables/crops --> potatoes --> ??

So, in both examples, the species should be at the lowest (subcategory) level of the chain (over time, they might hold lower subcats for special molecules, DNA and special details of their parts)

I hope this clarifies. (Note that in Commons, a category reference in a category refers to a higher/superior/preceding/"belonging to" category, some sort of backlinking, which can be confusing indeed) --Foroa (talk) 23:00, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

Further down (according to my logic):

--Foroa (talk) 07:55, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

You're trying to kid me!!! Am I actually discussing with an adult person of planet earth? Where is the candid camera? -- Ies (talk) 14:57, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

@Ies, disagreement is not a reason for a personal attack or demeaning remarks. Refrain from it. --Túrelio (talk) 19:57, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

You seem to wear special mirror glasses that project parts of the world upside down for you. You see the first example pretty correct:

  • continent --> country --> province/state/district --> city --> hamlets

From the big to the small thing, from the common to the special, that's okay.

I only can't retrace why you see this here upside down:

  • product/clothing --> textile/linen --> fiber/flax --> species/Linum usitatissimum

From the small to the big thing, from the special to the common, that's NOT okay.

I'll never understand why you begin with the product at the rear end. Products don't fall from heaved, they are made of something.

There is a population of plants within plant genus Solanum we call species Solanum tuberosum Therefore this special aspect (Category:Solanum tuberosum) belongs into a subcategory of Category:Solanum. The Solanum tuberosum plants build thickened underground shoots called potatoes. Therefore this special aspect (Category:Potatoes) belongs into a subcategory of Category:Solanum tuberosum. The potatoes can be used as food. Therefore this special aspect (Category:Potato based food) belongs into a subcategory of Category:Potatoes. The potato food can be prepared as french fries. Therefore this special aspect (Category:French fries) belongs into a subcategory of Category:Potato based food. French fries can be displayd in art. Therefore this special aspect (Category:French fries in art) belongs into a subcategory of Category:French fries.

This category system is easy understood by any little child:

  • Solanum --> Solanum tuberosum --> Potatoes --> Potato based food --> French fries --> French fries in art

By upside down categorizing you seem to want this made of it:

  • Solanum --> Solanum tuberosum <-- Potatoes <-- Potato based food <-- French fries <-- French fries in art

Nobody (but you) will understand this category system. It's simply illogical nonsense! -- Ies (talk) 16:21, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

Ies is completelly all right. Foroa is incorrect. --Snek01 (talk) 19:16, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

Are species categories to be a subcat of "common names" categories or the other way round ?[edit]

To come back to the basic problem, Commons has hundreds of category trees that are in parallel but overlapping and crossing quite often. In Commons, as far as I know, most categorisation is done in a top (highest order/highest level of abstraction) --> down (lowest order) fashion, such as culture --> Cuisine --> Food --> Basic food/vegetable ingredients --> species (all notations in this text are highest level parent categories left, lowest level subcategories right).

  • continent --> country --> province/state/district --> city --> hamlets
  • economy --> manufacturers --> car brands --> cars --> car wheels/engines/parts
  • product/clothing --> textile/linen --> fiber/flax --> species/Linum usitatissimum
  • Regnum: Plantae--> Clade: Angiosperms --> Clade: Eudicots--> Clade: Core eudicots --> Clade: Rosids--> Clade: Eurosids I --> Ordo: Malpighiales --> Familia: Linaceae --> Genus: Linum --> Species: Linum usitatissimum
When looking in Category:Linum usitatissimum, the end node of the two chains, its parent categories are Genus:Linum and Flax, so correct.
When looking at the potatoes example, there is something inconsistent between the taxonomy chain and the food chain: potatoes is the child/subcat of vegetables/crop (belong to/higher level) and Category:Solanum tuberosum (potatoes need that + water + cultivation + sunshine)  :
  • Clade: Angiosperms--> Clade: Eudicots --> Clade: Core eudicots--> Clade: Asterids--> Clade: Euasterids I --> Ordo: Solanales --> Familia: Solanaceae --> Subfamilia: Solanoideae --> Tribus: Solaneae --> Genus: Category:Solanum tuberosum --> potatoes
  • Cuisine ---> food --> food ingredients --> vegetables/crops --> potatoes --> ??

I think that, in both examples, the species should be at the lowest (subcategory) level of the chain (over time, they might hold lower subcats for special molecules, DNA and special details of their parts)

When in doubt, I collected a number of cases (explained from my logic that species should be the lowest level subcat):

--Foroa (talk) 18:45, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

There are needed various approaches. Case by case. It varies on terminology. For example potato is product of one species. Melon is product of various species. --Snek01 (talk) 19:24, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Definitely the product should be a subcategory of the species, or (as with melon where from more than one species), of the genus. The product should also of course be in other category trees such as foods, etc., that the species is not in. Apple is correct, not incorrect as stated above; cotton is incorrect, not correct as stated above. - MPF (talk) 10:19, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Voting: species categories to be a subcat of "common names" categories[edit]

  • ...

Voting: "common names"categories to be a subcat of species categories[edit]

  • ...
  • MPF (talk) 10:19, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Voting: species parent or subcategory: it all depends[edit]

  • ...

Species categories should (usually) neither be a subcat of common name cats, nor the other way around. Here's how:[edit]

Well the category system is not a chain. It is a network. It must not have small circular meshes (e.g. COM:OVERCAT with categories instead of files), but apart from that, it can have essentially any structure.

So "Potato" can go in both the scientific subtree (at Solanum tuberosum of course) and the Food subtree. But perhaps it is better done with a hat-note in the scientific tree... I fiddled around a bit with all that some time ago, and I found a hatnote ("See also..." or "For the non-scientific category, see...") easier to use than a subcategory


  • Solanum --> Solanum tuberosum <-hatnote-> Potatoes <-- Potato based food <-- French fries <-- French fries in art

(Note that "Potatoes" is already in the non-taxonomic categories Tubers, Vegetables and Crops.)

So I think a direkt link via hatnote may well eliminate the problem outright (in most cases). I tried it out with Category:Elephants, which used to redirect to Category:Elephantidae, though the way they are understood by Commons users they are absolutely not the same. It seems to have been well received, and it helps to keep stuff like Category:People with elephants out of Category:Elephantidae.

In a nutshell, I find common-name categories useful in 2 cases:

  • folk taxonomy and scientific taxonomy do not agree well ("fishes", "trees", "moths", "hawks"... but not "hawkmoths" ;-) )
  • organisms that have agricultural, cultural or medical (essentially these 3) importance vastly exceeding their taxonomical importance (apples, rice, dogs, horses, cattle, flukes, mosquitoes...)

Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 02:59, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

I agree with Dysmorodrepanis. Scientific names are preferred in all cases (according to the guideline). When a some common name is the same as some category of scientific name, then this common name redirects to the scientfic name. Unfortunatelly some commons names are not fully compatible with scientific names and then such common names are categorized a bit differently. In all potentially problematic categories there would be useful to add an explanation what does it mean and how similar things should be categorized. (Other "problematic" examples include, for example Category:Unidentified squirrels - there is no scientific name for all squirrels and when a squirrel will be determined then it will be categorized according to the scientific.) --Snek01 (talk) 15:58, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
I favor cross-linking taxonomic to vernacular categories using see also or templates. Tony Wills first brought this to my attention using Category:Dogs as an example.[4]. Thus, I support Dysmorodrepanis' proposal. Walter Siegmund (talk) 19:21, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

Do we have to keep species categories well isolated from "common naming" categories[edit]

As we can see in category:Dogs, category:Horses, category:Rosa, category:Prunus (Old World plums) and category:Prunus, taxonomy don't cover all our needs, and it is not easy to classify those items without interfering or obscuring the proper taxonomy organisation. Moreover, as can be noticed in for example category:Snails and category:Melons, the relations are not always one to one. To avoid long discussions, I submit a number of practical cases. --Foroa (talk) 18:45, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

Voting: category:Dogs should be merged into category:Canis lupus[edit]

  • Strongly disagree. The Dogs category is an entire sub-tree of its own, and even marked for diffusion itself already (meaning that more splitting is the way to go, while merging will probably anger a lot of people). Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 02:59, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

Voting: category:Cats should be split from category:Felis silvestris catus[edit]

  • Strongly agree (it is F. catus anyway, IIRC). Same rationale as above. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 02:59, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

Voting: category:Tomatoes should be split from category:Solanum lycopersicum[edit]

  • Disagree (though not in principle; BTW Category:Solanum lycopersicum). The category page is half-full, but there are few subcategories, and it is not easy to draw a line between the "scientific" and the "vernacular" content. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 02:59, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
  • Agree; photos of tomato plants should be in Category:Solanum lycopersicum, while photos of the fruit post-harvest should be in its subcategory Category:Tomatoes. Then the superfluous Category:Tomato fruit should be merged into Category:Tomatoes. - MPF (talk) 10:24, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Agree with MPF above. The tomato tree is only starting and over time, there will be several additional categories for tomato production, packaging, transport, treatment, ... --Foroa (talk) 11:02, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

VN versus Translation table[edit]

I have noticed that some people are changing the Translation table template to the VN template.

Is this now the standard?

Is it documented someplace that it is the standard?

Does the use of VN conflict with the Wikimedia goal of being language independent because the use of VN causes the English words, Vernacular Names, to appear on the page? What is the purpose of adding Vernacular Names to the page? Isn't the function of the translation table sufficiently obvious without the need for a title?--Davefoc (talk) 18:54, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

VN is better, as the language and the name in it stand out more clearly from each other. "Vernacular Names" is translated according to the user's set language preference; see e.g. here. - MPF (talk) 10:31, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, and please add a translation to {{VN/title}} if a language you speak is missing. Using the term "vernacular names" is more appropriate since they're not really translations (of the scientific name). It's possible to translate existing common names into other languages, but that's not what we what. The names should actually be in use. Rocket000 (talk) 17:31, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
The only problem is that it can be used only for, well, vernacular names ;-) and not for a general title-translation. So I had to use "translation table" for Category:Birds of the United States etc. But it would be simple to fix that. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 11:19, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
Of course a template designed for a specific purpose usually isn't suitable for a different purpose. :-) That fact that they are similar in function and one can be used in place of the other, but not vice versa, doesn't necessarily mean we should (re)merge them. There's some good reasons for maintaining both; there's potential to do more with them (think "Semantic Web"). Also, {{VN}} is fully compatible with wikispecies' VN template, and it matches {{SN}}. Rocket000 (talk) 02:06, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, no problem - it's just that VN looks much nicer than the translation table ;-)
I also prefer {{VN}}:
Cheers Liné1 (talk) 20:00, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
...can we use {{VN}} for categories and galleries? Then I would use and prefer {{VN}} also, with Liné's arguments. Orchi (talk) 21:48, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
yes, my friend, you can ! Liné1 (talk) 07:17, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Assuming that there is a consensus that {{VN}} is recommended over translation table template how should that be documented? How do we know that there is a consensus?--Davefoc (talk) 16:42, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

I am sorry that nobody has answered the question about where it should be documented. I think it is the most important question related to the TOL project. There are long discussions here about various esoteric subjects. The results of those discussions rarely result in documented policy. It seems like Rocket000 took a stab at outlining what he thought a standard gallery should be above, but nothing came of it except discussion. I have thought about taking a shot at documenting what a standard gallery looks like by just deleting the out of date examples on the TOL page and replacing it with what seems like it might be something of a consensus. I haven't done it partially because I'm lazy and partially because I don't feel like I'm a TOL insider and my efforts might conflict with what TOL insiders want. It would also be difficult to document what a standard TOL gallery looks like because it seems like each TOL insider has his own ideas about what that is and they just attempt to implement that by flitting around the TOL pages tweaking them to fit their own ideas.--Davefoc (talk) 19:35, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

One of these days I'm going to rewrite the whole thing. There's a lot of stuff to cover (based on the lengthy discussions here) and I didn't think I would be able to do it a couple months ago, so I started small with Commons:WikiProject_Tree_of_Life/Lepidoptera, which deals with a specific area. It worked out good and I'm planning to create a general TOL page like it once I get the motivation (and more experience with the botany side of things). Rocket000 (talk) 10:27, 31 December 2009 (UTC)

Extinct vs Fossil redux[edit]

No movement in the debate, as it seems. And we still have mess like Category:Extinct Annelida versus Category:Fossil Annelida (two categories for two content items) or Category:Gastornis versus Category:Fossil Gastornis (most of the latter are not actual fossils, but reconstructions, and thus may have some "artistic license" - see here for what this can lead to).

I still think the least painful solution is in approaching the problem "the other way around", because

  • almost all taxa of which fossils exist are extinct, and
  • for most taxa of which fossils exist, actual fossils, casts or other reproductions of fossils, and drawing of fossils are the most plentiful content on Commons (as opposed to life reconstructions, anatomical details, dendrograms etc)


  • use only the "Extinct" category system, scrapping the "Fossil" one entirely
  • if this results in too much content in an "Extinct" category, simply assume fossils and the likes to be the "default" (this is where my approach departs from all others), and move something else to a subcategory (e.g. Category:Tyrannosaurus reconstructions for Category:Tyrannosaurus),

This avoids

  • the problem of accuracy (fossils vs casts/reconstructions, fossil photos vs fossil drawings, subfossils vs permineralized fossils, body fossils vs trace fossils, ...)
  • the problem of historically extinct taxa (for which we'll have the "Extinct" category tree anyway, no matter what is being done with the "Fossil" category tree)
  • very much redundancy: "Extinct" would only become a separate subcategory if any non-extinct taxa exist. Otherwise, the taxon category would be used straight away and some "mother" category of it would tie into the "Extinct" category tree.

E.g.: no "Category:Extinct Tyrannosaurus", but simply a Category:Extinct Coelurosauria down the road (because most would agree that birds are non-extinct Coelurosauria), where Category:Tyrannosauroidea would be located. This case also illustrates the maximum amount of redundancy possible with such an approach: since the Maniraptora are the only Coelurosauria with extant members, all non-maniraptoran Coelurosauria would be both in Category:Coelurosauria and Category:Extinct Coelurosauria. But this is still far less redundancy than we have now, and a bit of redundancy cannot be avoided anyway. Redundancy needs to be minimized though (to conform with COM:OVERCAT as much as is possible), not maximized as is the case under the present approach.

The benefit would be an unambiguous category sequence for extinct/fossil taxa, that runs seamlessly from, for example, Category:Extinct Prokaryota (e.g. File:Proterozoic Stromatolites.jpg) to Category:Acrocephalus familiaris familiaris.

The only real problem with this approach I can think of off the top of my head would be if we would get A LOT of (sub)fossil material of some extant taxon. The oldest living species do already appear in the record as fully fossilized specimens. Bos taurus, for example, has yielded a lot of fossil examples that are in fact ancient "modern" cattle and not auroxen or something. Gastropoda are also quite notorious in that regard, as are some other invertebrates (Foraminifera, diatoms etc).

But in such cases - should they ever occur (at present I think there are none) -, a solution can probably be found on a case-to-case basis. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 15:12, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Agree. --Snek01 (talk) 15:57, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Please see above, I commented on the earlier thread. Tiptoety talk 06:37, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

Erica fourcadei[edit]

Erica fourcadei has been reduced to a subspecies of Erica glandulosa see . Can someone please redirect the page? Many thanks. Andrew massyn (talk) 20:11, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

Sorted - MPF (talk) 13:33, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
Thanx. Andrew massyn (talk) 16:36, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

Rename requests for categories using {{taxonavigation}}[edit]

To make it easier to find categories with {{taxonavigation}} (and some other templates) in Requested moves, I added links to CatScan. The oldest ones are in Category:Requested moves (21+ days). -- User:Docu at 15:51, 22 November 2009 (UTC)

Is any other way possible? Catscan is not the most precise of tools, especially as it will propose outdated nomina if they persist on some Wikipedia... Dysmorodrepanis (talk)
Once in a while the toolserver database lags, but with this exception, the query should be accurate.
As your requests are generally well explained and the category descriptions complete, in the meantime, I processed most of them.
There are few requests in the field, e.g. one might want to look into this one. -- User:Docu at 05:07, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

Category:Francis de Castelnau's expedition[edit]

I have ID'd all taxa in the plates at least provisionally. I started off with fishes and birds, and many of these are still in my original format (Castelnau's name = Current name). The others are in the better format I used subsequently (Castelnau's name author as per Castelnau = Current name author as per ICZN).

I'd say 97% of the taxa are correct now, 2% are unidentifiable and 1% is possibly (but not certainly) wrong. Beetles may be an exception, as the taxonomy of many has never been reviewed since Castelnau's time. The bats are not identified to species in the content we have.

Frédéric, I changed "Retouched" to "Extracted" template. As far as I can see, they are distinct in the category tree, and "Retouched" really seems to mean colour balance, red-eye removal, scratch removal etc, not mere cropping. If you don't like it, you can of course put it back, but it is probably better to use it for cropped and retouched images, when the original crop still exists (e.g. File:Lautenbach Kirche1.jpg and File:Lautenbach Kirche1 retouched.jpg).

Have fun extracting! Example infoboxes can be gotten via the extracted images. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 23:05, 23 December 2009 (UTC)

Taxonomy query[edit]

I found a mergeto request on Category:Ascomycetes to Category:Ascomycota, I don't know anything about this, but the reasoning given ("on en: wiki the former was deleted in favour of the latter") seems informed. Can you confirm whether this is OK or not? I can move the cat. -- Deadstar (msg) 08:50, 23 December 2009 (UTC) -- Copied here by Tony Wills (talk) 08:53, 24 December 2009 (UTC)

go ahead per en:Ascomycota#Ascomycetes_versus_Ascomycota. Samovary (talk) 12:21, 24 December 2009 (UTC)


By now, the automatic system to assign taxonomic categories - as used for many Lepidoptera and plants for example - works quite well. But two problems persist. One is a severe nuisance but should be easy to fix. The other is less of an inconvenience, but fixing it is very hard.

The latter is the inability of the system to handle monotypic taxa. Previously, we had no monotypic taxon categories; any species of a monotypic genus (for example) went into its (sub)family/tribe category directly. The profusion of fully redundant genus-categories is technically not permitted by the Commons guidelines, and to the user it is a bit inconvenient. But it is not that much of a problem at present.

It may eventually become more problematic, because in paleontology it has been commonplace for some time to establish taxa needlessly, basically as a sort of hypercorrection. Gobipteryx for example - a monotypic genus at present - was placed in a monotypic order and family, but a more appropriate placement would simply be (Eu)Enantiornithes incertae sedis. "Gobipterygiformes" can be easily dismissed (as they are not regulated by anything), but Gobipterygidae is a valid family. So, the automatic system would give us three extra category layers (through which a user would have to click to reach the genus/species) at no information added.

In conclusion, the monotypy problem is strictly speaking "against the rules" (no redundant categories), but if limited to genus-level is is just a minor inconvenience.

The more pressing problem is the way the automatic categorization arranges the taxon categories in their parent category. Consider for example Category:Astereae. In large categories, it is extremely cumbersome now to locate what you are looking for.

It should be rather easy to fix though: "genera of xyz" and "species of xyz" (and similar) should be at the "*" or " " (blankspace) heading - I tend to use the blankspace heading since it precedes "*", which I use for supplementary categories such as "xyz in art". Whereas the genera should be sorted alphabetically. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 20:02, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

I've been thinking about how to handle monotypic taxa better. With {{Lepidoptera}} there's a category override one can use. For example, you can use it to skip the genus category and go directly into the family category and make the genus category a redirect. However, it would be a soft redirect which is basically the same (it takes the same amount of clicks to get to the media), so I don't it for every one anymore. An added bonus to this is the ability to easily generate lists of all the species/genera/etc. we have. If you can think of a better way to deal with these let me know. Rocket000 (talk) 21:05, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
Check my newest template: {{Coleoptera}}. It deals with this issue in an unique way. Rocket000 (talk) 01:55, 7 January 2010 (UTC)