Template:Places by decade/faq

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Decades Templates


How do I get started[edit]

Instead of coding [[Category:Paris in the 1890s]], do this

 {{places by decade|Paris|1890}}

Want to see the place on a map from Commons? Add a specific landmark name or address.

 {{places by decade|Paris|1890|Eiffel Tower}}

Then add Firefox's free Operator toolbar, and click on google or yahoo maps. Google and Yahoo recognize a surprising number of placenames. This is not an alternative to precise specification of locations, but the first step. See geocoding discussion below.

Style/ formatting observations[edit]

The best navboxes are concise. These go overboard with information, often only tangentially related[edit]

This is correct for the other foundation wikis. It is less true on Commons due to the uniqueness that Commons is intended as a source of media, not as a reference. If sleek navboxes in the style of wikipedia would do the job, there would be no need for the additional links. The difference that argues in favor of prolix navboxes on commons is the paucity of wikitext links and descriptive text. Few contributors add descriptions, and for those that do, little of it is wikified with links to assist users in navigating to any other content on commons. That means search won't find good images, and neither can you click links as in wikipedia articles. The visitor is then left to navigating category structure- that is, if they are able to discover the category links at the end of the article. Navigating category structures is unsatisfactory as a primary navigation mechanism, and the limitations for lay users have been amply discussed on commons. Navboxes such as in this family of templates bypasses the constraints of the canonically correct pigeonholes that media get hidden in.

I don't want the Major Cities and/or Countries on my navbox[edit]

Set parameters partof8 and partof9 to "no". Alternately, you can set them to other top level geographic groups. See Section "#Information used by this template" below for the values.

The page clutters the page/ I don't see the point of having the big pictures.[edit]

Thumbnails on category pages often do not make it clear the value of the collections of images when viewed at a small size. Rather than delete them, you can add the parameter |collapsed=collapsed in the template, and the navbox will be minimized.

What categories does this template automatically include?[edit]

What's with the color scheme?[edit]

Color coding is added to quickly distinguish between periods. A parchment color may be used for 18th century and earlier. Cutoff between the current (blue) period and sepia tone is 100 years before present, so the decade 1910 is sepia, while 1920s are blue.

I want to set my own navbox style[edit]

Take a look at the Template:Navbox parameters for styles (eg: groupstyle, bodystyle...). All these parameters and options can be used to override the defaults. This could be done as a front end template to the main template, if a large number of pages needed to share the same style. Copy Template:Places by decade, and add the needed style parameters.

Information used by this template[edit]

The template doesn't have the right information on it, but it is too complicated to fix.[edit]

Information on the template is actually located in smaller templates, one each for each place. If the information is incorrect, take the name that appears in the titlebar and prefix it by Template:Facts/ . For example, if the titlebar says "Berlin-Mitte", then refer to page: Template:Facts/Berlin-Mitte. The page says that places like Alexanderplatz and Lindentunnel are found in Berlin-Mitte, and that it is part of Bezirk Mitte, which is part of Berlin. Similarly, you will find a page for Template:Facts/Bezirk Mitte and so on. A full list of these pages in in Category:Facts pages, and may be created from scratch from Template:Facts info place. Authors may find it easiers to work from the examples of existing info files.

Do I need to create the info files?[edit]

No. If they don't exist, then world level locations (major countries and cities) will appear, but not information on local areas. Some of this information can be specified as parameters. For example, the page for this picture of Herr Goring knows that Berlin-Mitte is part of Bezirk Mitte and Berlin because the info page Template:Facts/Berlin-Mitte has the partof2 and partof3 information with those values in it. So, if the template call added the parameters partof2=Bezirk Mitte|partof3=Berlin, those list items would appear again. But not all information can be passed in this way. For example the list of locations within Berlin-Mitte cannot be passed.

How do I create one from scratch[edit]

It's probably easiest to copy from an existing info page, but a creation page is provided at Template:Place info. Information on the values may be found there.

Do the locations assume states, provinces, or other government structures?[edit]

No. The meaning of the levels is up to the author. All they do is list a set of links for the particular decade if there is a category with its name in the form: PlaceName in the decades.

I want to see the location on a map[edit]

If you know the exact location of the picture, use the {{location}} template. If the caption mentions some landmark or street, indicate it in the geoPosition parameter. In the above example for Goring, "Lustgarten" was mentioned in the caption, and using Firefox's free Operator toolbar, Google Maps went right to it.

Are there related navbox templates?[edit]

The idea is to be able to switch between traversing places for a certain time period to traversing things from the same period, to viewing events that may span decade boundaries. Users may desire traversing space vertically or horizontally Things by place would could broaden scope of the place from City to State to Country. People by place could scope by place as well as by profession, since Physicist would be partof2=Scientist, and partof3=People, so one could traverse vertically from Physicists from Germany to Scientists from Germany to People from Germany. Part_of sets for things would allow one to traverse horizontally from destroyers to battleships to submarines or vertically to fleets, naval vessels, and ships by country.

What is the idea behind partof# parameters?[edit]

This is very loosely similar to the Part_of semantic relation in knowledge bases, however it is simply used by this template to indicate a set of categories that has an unspecified relation to a given category. What the template does with them is display the any of the categories that appear for that same year or place. In formal knowledge representation terms, some may be ISA/AKO relations, while others might be part of or other relations. These sets do not obey any formalism, and the semantics are as defined by the author.

Must partof groups mirror category hierarchies?[edit]

These Navboxes were created specifically to bypass the constraints of category hierarchies, allowing the user to navigate in ways that may violate category classification schemas. For example, a great deal of history is recorded for Paris in prior centuries, but history categories for other regions of France is sparse, resulting in nearly empty rows in the table. Paris is formally part of Île-de-France, but the part of hierarchy skips this department because decade categories do not currently exist for any other departments (France's "province/state"s). The choice is made to make its parent set France, and Paris a direct child of France, so the visual layout will have the most utility. Ile de France might well exist alongside Paris.

I (do/ do not) like the navbox information and (do/don't) want to see them.[edit]

You can set your personal CSS viewing preferences to have them default open or closed regardless how they were set by the template writer or with the collapsed parameter. If interested, I will write up the details on how to do this.


Nice, but it needs to be comprehensively applied to pages to be useful, and not many will do that.[edit]

  • At base level, this is useful not for the navbox navigation, but as a quick way of indicating an article's time and place information. The author may or may not decade to created decade categories for them, but a member of Commons:Wikiproject Time can undertake this as a maintenance task.
  • It would be possible to generate these for some collections where place and time data are often available. In fact, the upload German archives are what initially drove the creation of these templates. Once the templates are stable and have been critiqued, this phase will be proposed at the village pump for input. Pywikipedia would be used.

Auto categorization is evil- how do I turn it off[edit]



into the parameter list, and you just get the navboxes. For example, this should be used whenever the image or category is already nested in a decades by place category for that place.

Use with microformat parsers[edit]

I heard I can install a toolbar that would allow me to look up locations and do other stuff[edit]

Commons pages using this template are enabled for those hCard aware toolbars. I used an extension for Firefox called Operator. Operator may be downloaded at Firefox site. There are some that work on IE and other browsers, too- see section below on microformats.

Google calendar doesn't work[edit]

Beats me why not. Yahoo and the other calendar apps work fine.

Yahoo/ 30boxes calendar apps get the year wrong[edit]

Yahoo records the year properly if it is greater than 1930. Otherwise, it gets converted to 1970. Outlook express (operator command mode menu: events."Event".export event) records it just fine.

Links never appear[edit]

The links are there, but some scripts are not transferring them. View with Yahoo Contacts, or the first page of Yahoo Calendar when you add a link, and you will see that the links back to the commons pages are being passed properly. I would presume that corrected Operator scripts would solve many if not all of these difficulties, but it is conceivable that some applications intentionally mask off urls.

Why do I want a calendar or contact sheet full of information on events that happened hundreds of years ago?[edit]

Beats me. However, you might find some of these apps useful- for example for keeping notes in contacts or visualizing locations using the mapping applications. It is mostly a spin off- I had the data and could produce these for the Semantic web community that finds this sort of metadata very groovy. First uses might be indirect- used by search engines to better find information on Commons. Historical applications such as a google/yahoo Timelines application are already available; or something more elaborate like a Google Earth that navigates time as well as space, like a Wayback machine, populated by images from the past. There is a chicken egg problem for these applications- no one creates the data without the applications, but no applications can succeed without the data. These templates address the data side of the problem. Strategically speaking, aggressively building the egg has great significant advantages. With Commons as the premier site for historical multimedia microformat data, future development will be oriented towards smooth inter operating our (foundation) databases.


I heard this uses microformats/hCard/en:hCalendar/hCalendar/vevents Maybe I want some of that. How to I get some?[edit]

There are a number of browser extensions that allow you to use data from Commons pages using Decades templates. For example, a single click will allow you to see the location using one of several mapping servcies. You can also save historical information on events using Outlook, Yahoo Calendar, or 30boxes.com. I use the extension called Operator, but the others may suit your needs. See other choices at Microformats.org. Internet explorer add-on Oomph was tried, but it appears to be nonfunctional with microformats info recorded with the decades template, as well as other wiki templates that emit this sort of information.

How does this overlap Commons:Geocoding?[edit]

Although the google and yahoo maps are very good at using position information specified in the third parameter, this is only a first step. Authors are encouraged to refine the location if possible, using the {{location}} template to record the precise viewing location of images. Decade templates cannot be used for this purpose and record more fuzzy location information that specifies a date (with optional end date) and a general geographic area. An author might simply specify a general location such as with parameter geoPosition=Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre. What Yahoo and Google maps do is use this string to search its map database. The Decade templates can provide geo coord data when listed in the "Facts" file, but the current map applications (or more probably the operator scripts) currently ignore this data. For a technical discussion or proposals related to this issue, please comment on Template talk:Places by decade.

If I wanted to specify geo location how would I?[edit]

There is some technical info on docs for Template:Places by decade/main. It is optional information. You may see it on a few pages as part of early work, but it really has no practical use until operator scripts are modified, and it may break since I am no longer testing it. If there is some utility for this, leave me a message on my talk page (J JMesserly (talk)).

Then if I have a picture of a boat in the middle of the Pacific ocean, what do I code?[edit]

Encode the nearest island or undersea landmark that Google or Yahoo maps recognizes. Then use {{location}} for the precise coordinates. If there is some large set of exceptional problems this creates, the geocoding folks can advise the folks maintaining the Decade navboxes how they wish our templates to proceed. Geocoding group owns precise encoding of position. The Time group owns encoding of events.

Hidden meta data is evil[edit]

Hovering over the Decades icon will display the metadata for the event on some systems. While the microformats specifications don't say that hidden data is prohibited, one or more parsers do ignore it.

Can I generate location template data from Facts/ pages?[edit]

Don't do that. Use the location template so the geocoding folks can best manage this data.

Technical Questions[edit]

This template should use some different encoding of time that what is currently used by the template[edit]

If there were an agreed on specification for how hCalendar / vEvent fields should be used to encode historical periods, then the template could be made to adhere to that. In the meantime, if a start date is specified, the hours and minutes are set to zero. End date has maximum values for hours and minutes. End date is exclusive, so if a battle ended on day X, then the dtend field has to be set to Day X+1. Because string functions are not yet enabled, (see bugzilla:6455), it is not possible to do this kind of manipulations easily. So during this phase of the project, we are punting the issue, and asking for a start and end day. The hours are set to maximum for end, and to minimum for start. Decade currently set a date at the middle of the period, but at some time a standards body may give guidance that the start and end years should simply specify year. It doesn't really matter at this point, since it can be algorithmically changed to whatever the canonically correct form is later. Ease of end user coding is paramount. It is possible to do the arithmetic without string functions, and if we need to do that, a bot could easily convert the dates into a more complicated syntax that a wikitext template could process.

fn should not be used for place names exposed via hcard to Google and Yahoo maps[edit]

The Microformats Hcard page specifies that Place names are to be encoded with fn and org in the same element:

If the "FN" and "ORG" properties have the exact same value (typically because they are set on the same element, e.g. class="fn org"), then the hCard represents contact information for a company, organization or place and SHOULD be treated as such.

That's what the code does, and three independent applications recognize the semantics passed this way and correctly use them (Operator, GoogleMaps, YahooMaps). If the encoding is indeed canonically incorrect, and there is a canonical way to get Google and Yahoo to recognize these values and perform correct searches, then of course that would be optimal. If there is not a way to achieve the interoperability with the canonical best practice, then it needs to be shown what harm there is in temporary emission of incorrect forms while the applications and standards folks are getting the issues sorted.