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  • It is noted that scientific classification demands a scientifically rigorous system insofar that a taxon unequivocally corresponds to certain groups of organisms (as defined by the type).
  • It is noted that scientific classification also demands a flexible system, because the relationship between taxon and phylogenetic entity is not bijective and subject to revision, change and uncertainty.
  • It is noted that most users think in phenetic, often non-monophyletic categories, and that the present phylogenetic approach is too tough on the average user.
  • It is noted that a rudimentary vernacular-name category tree already exist (though part of it has been chopped down as of recently), because some "form taxa" figure too prominently in human perception to be done away with (for example fishes).


  • Presumably, scientifically-minded users will want a tree that allows them to locate narrowly defined content. for example, the contact call of some bird species, a photo of a young of a certain mammal, a distribution map for a certain fish genus, etc., and also allows for accomodating new developments with as little maintenance effort as possible.
  • Presumably, nonscientific users will want a tree that allows them to reach a certain "kind" or "sort" of animal quickly and provide them with an overview of the collected material so that they can pick the picture that is, essentially, "the prettiest". For example, a photo of a singing "warbler", or of a blue butterfly, or a drawing of the stuff that makes fireflys glow, or an elephant's vocalizations, or a photo of a lion male with a long mane. For most such purposes, it is irrelevant whether there is doubt about the precise identity of the organism in question etc.


  • It is proposed to immediately halt the dismantling of the vernacular tree to reassess what parts might be useful.
  • It is proposed to untangle and possibly restore the vernacular from the scientific tree and expand them to two interlinked but (all but) non-intersecting (i.e., cross-categorized via tags) systematic schemes.
  • It is proposed that the scientific tree uses only gallery pages at the species-group level, for the reasons already discussed at length and a few more.
  • It is tentatively proposed that species pages are not categorized to the genus. (it is unnecessary and cumbersome under the proposed system)
  • It is proposed that the vernacular tree would adhere to the general Commons nomenclature, and that it would use only categories.
  • It is proposed to abolish gallery pages for any other purposes altogether, for the reasons already discussed at length and a few more.

(A few exceptions might apply e.g. to the last point)


A ">" denotes a category tag (in the page/category to the left)

A "+" denotes a wikilink (in the page/category to the right)

Note how much shorter the vernacular trees are by comparison. Every person capable of basic English should be able to arrive at the content they are seeking with minimal fuss. Moreover it can be expanded to support any number of languages with little trouble or content getting lost.

Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)[edit]

Vernacular categories for plants


          ,+Helianthus tuberosus+Category:Helianthus->Category:Heliantheae->Category: Asteroideae->Category:Asteraceae->Category: Asterales->Category:Asterids->Category:Eudicots->Category:Angiosperms->Category:Plantae
Image file          +                        +                                                             +                                                                                                 +
          `>Category:Jerusalem artichoke->Category:Sunflowers------------------------------------->Category:Composites->Category:Annuals---------------------------------------------------------------->Category:Plants

("Composites" would also be accessible from "Perennials", "Trees" and "Shrubs". It may be better to create a category "Plants by species", as in Category:Animals)

Steps from Plantae to Helianthus tuberosus: 9, none of which is intuitive to non-specialists. In plain English, this means that the present system does de facto not permit most users to do something as (presumably) trivial as finding a specific species of sunflower via categories.

Steps from Plants to Jerusalem artichoke: 5, all of which are intuitively understandable, at least to the a native speaker of English. Other languages can be handled via redirect-to-category.

Dickcissel (Spiza americana)[edit]

How to express updated placement

Image:Spiza americana male 231051626 13e01e8125 o.jpg

This bird is a cardinal related to the "American buntings", but was formerly considered a true bunting or a tanager.

          ,+Spiza americana+Category:Cardinalidae->Category:Passeroidea->Category:Passerida->Category:Passeri------->[...]------->Category:Aves and so on
Image file             +                                                                                                            +
          `->Category:Dickcissel->Category:Tanagers->Category:Songbirds--------------------------->Category:Birds by common name->Category:Birds->Category:Animals by species->Category:Animals
                                ´>Category:Buntings-7                  `->Category:Perching birds-7

(There would also be a link from "Perching birds" and "Songbirds" to the scientific tree)

Steps from Aves to Spiza americana: 8 (6 after 2 superfluous categories have been deleted)

Steps from Birds to Dickcissel: 5-6

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)[edit]

How to express uncertainty of placement

Image:Poecile atricapillus 03.jpg

Tits and chickadees are a very basal branch of the Sylvioidea, diverging from the "warblers" and "babblers" so early that Paridae + relatives might arguably be moved to a distinct superfamily Paroidea. It is unrealistic to expect a really robust consensus on that before the year 2010 however.

Note that the bird was until recently Parus atricapillus.

          ,->Category:Black-capped Chickadee------>Category:Titmice---------------------->Category:Songbirds-> etc as above
Image file             +                               +                                         +
          `+Poecile atricapillus+Category:Poecile->Category:Paridae---------------------->Category:Passerida-> etc as above

(This is already being used as it only affects categories for which there is consensus)

Steps from Aves to Poecile atricapillus: 8-9 (6-7 after 2 superfluous categories have been deleted)

Steps from Birds to Black-capped Chickadee: 5-6

Zebra Blue (Tarucus plinius)[edit]

How to overcome complicated systematic structures


Many arthropod lineages, namely insect orders, are highly speciose. Ongoing research has resulted in much better systematic arrangements than only 10 years ago, but the sheer diversity of butterflies, beetles, mites etc still leaves much work to be done. Nonwithstanding, for Lepidoptera for example there exists a rather well-accepted and highly subdivided systematic framework.

Given the sheer volume of content and the exclusive use of scientific names, it is almost impossible for non-specialists to locate for example a certain butterfly's page on Commons.

          ,+Tarucus plinius->Category:Polyommatini->Category:Polyommatinae->Category:Lycaenidae->Category:Papilionoidea->Category:Rhopalocera->[...]->Category:Insecta and so on
Image file          +                                           +                                                               +                            +
          `->Category:Zebra Blue------------------->Category:Blues (butterflies)---------------------------------------->Category:Butterflies-------->Category:Insects----------------------->Category:Animals by species->Category:Animals

(T. plinius is presently the only member of its genus for which Commons content exists. Hence, a genus category is not necessary.)

Steps from Lepidoptera to Tarucus plinius: presently 4, but Rhopalocera is missing

Steps from Butterflies to Zebra Blue: 2

Steps from Animals to Zebra Blue: 5-6

Many people without an advanced scientific education routinely do not distinguish between insects and arthropods. Note how the "Arthropods" detour will both a) allow people to get to insects even if they have no idea what arthropods are and b) allow for a warning statement at Insects that links to Arthropods, to the effect that e.g. spiders are not insects.

Note that Category:Butterflies at present redirects to Category:Lepidoptera. This is about as correct as to make Category:Primates redirect to Category:Mammalia. From a scientific standpoint this is an outright lie. It is IMHO not acceptable to suggest to users that Butterflies = Lepidoptera. There is only an easily-overlooked statement to the contrary that is false also (Hesperoidea are butterflies too by about anyone's account).

Also, "Lepidoptera" now contains a lot of stuff like Category:Butterflies by country. Would it not be better if these were in another category one link away? Are they needed by people who regularly surf through the scientific category tree, or by people who don't know that "moths" are paraphyletic? The present jumbled morass of pages and subcategories bogs down both the average as well as the scientifically-minded user unnecessarily.

The proposed system would

a) allow almost any user to locate arthropod content easily
b) allow for an scientifically accurate way of organizing content.
The status quo fails to do either.

Lithops karasmontana ssp. bella[edit]

How to overcome lack of common names - I

An easy example.

Image:Lithops karasmontana bella.jpg

          ,+Lithops karasmontana+Category:Lithops->Category:Aizoaceae->Category:Caryophyllales->Category:Eudicots->Category:Angiosperms->Category:Plantae
Image file                      \      +                                                                                                     +
          `----------------------`>Category:Pebble plants->Category:Succulents->Category:Perennials------------------------------------->Category:Plants

(This means that all Lithops content would be categorized under "Pebble plants", and that the species pages would be categorized there also, in addition to the usual treatment as non-categorized(?) linked gallery unter the "Lithops" category.)

Steps from Plantae to Lithops karasmontana: 6

Steps from Plants to Lithops karasmontana: 4

Secondary categorization has been left out (e.g. "Aizoaceae" would also be in "Plantae by family". "Succulents" also in "Annuals", "Shrubs", "Trees").
Alternatively, "Pebble plants" could go in a category "Succulent perennials" which is accessible both from "Succulents" and "Perennials"; or see next example.

"Living stones" etc would redirect to the "Pebble plants" category.

Phidippus workmani[edit]

How to overcome lack of common names - II

A more complicated case

Image:Phidippus workmani face.jpg

          ,+Phidippus workmani+Category:Phidippus->Category:Salticidae->Category:Araneomorphae->Category:Araneae->Category:Arachnida->Category:Chelicerata->Category:Arthropoda->Category:Protostomia->Category:Eumetazoa->Category:Animalia
Image file                                       \         +                                          +                                                                                                                          +
          `---------------------------------------´>Category:Jumping spiders------------------->Category:Spiders----------------------->Category:Animals by species------------------------------------------------------->Category:Animals

(This means that all salticid content would be categorized under "Jumping spiders" and that salticid genus categories and species pages like Saitis barbipes - only one species of Saitis has Commons content at present - would be categorized there too.)

Steps from Animalia to Phidippus workmani: 10

Steps from Animal to Phidippus workmani: 5-6

Common liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica)[edit]

How to handle a speciose group with little content

Image:F. hepatica adults in bile duct.jpg

Presently there is an ugly mess of vernacular and scientific categories and articles under Trematoda.

          ,+Fasciola hepatica->Category:Fasciolidae->Category:Trematoda->Category:Platyhelminthes->Category:Protostomia->Category:Eumetazoa-------->Category:Animalia
Image file           +                                      +                     +                                                                     +
          ´->Common liver fluke--------------------->Category:Flukes---->Category:Flatworms->Category:Worms (animals)->Category:Animals by species->Category:Animals

Steps from Animalia to Fasciola hepatica: 7 (As more content is added, Category:Echinostomida, Category:Digena etc will eventually be created, increasing step number to 9.)

Steps from Animals to Common liver fluke: 5

Category:Liver flukes may also be included, but at present it has a mere 4 items that could not be categorized elsewhere.

Other examples[edit]

  • How many Americans would be able to find on Commons a photo of those vultures they saw on their way home? How many would be able to add such a photo to Commons and correctly categorize it?
It is shameful that there was, until 2008/02/17, no way to find Darwin's "finches" content on Commons without knowledge of the genus names or a keen interest in ornithology (i.e., reading the last 2 years' worth of scientific papers)!
The latter would be placed in Category:Ducks and Canard colvert, Ánade real, Pato-real, Stockente, Кряква etc would redirect to it.
The result would be increased usability, because a) the content is easier to find for non-experts and b) experts can locate highly specific content more easily (e.g. a photo of a Mallard-Domestic duck hybrid drake, or a photo of Greenland mallards - if such a thing exists on Commons - showing one of the rare examples of Allen's Rule in birds, etc).
In addition, there isn't scores of unsortable and unannotable content items clogging up the scientific tree anymore. Let the people who force categories like Category:Green animals and Category:Close-ups of plants upon us deal with "dumpster categories" I say; they seem to be willing and able.
WP:ToL would at least be able no doubt, but we should have better things to do than to quarrel about a standard for renaming all mallard photos so that the categories will sort alphabetically. Which is impossible anyway - good luck finding a name for that one that will sort correctly if placed in a category. (And what about this? So...)
  • Multiple taxa on one content item
  • For example, a photo of a Mallard and a Northern Shoveler would be categorized in:
  1. Category:Mallard
  2. Category:Northern Shoveler
  3. Category:Ducks
  4. Category:Anas (eventually probably Category:Anatinae)
It would be in the gallery on:
  1. Anas platyrhynchos
  2. Anas clypeata (which probably will eventually become Spatula clypeata once again)
  • A photo of an American Wigeon and an American Coot would be categorized in:
  1. Category:American Coot
  2. Category:American Wigeon
  3. Category:Waterfowl
It would be in the gallery on:
  1. Fulica americana
  2. Anas americana (which may eventually become Mareca americana once again)
Note that in both cases the maintenance work required by the generic revisions can be handled by a simple page-move and a change of category tags. The categories themselves are rather unlikely to change ever! Though I would not recommend to do it manually for the shoveler, in a pinch all the maintenance work can be done manually by any user, if no bot or script is at hand.
  1. Category:Unknown Hymenoptera
  2. Category:Bees (or Wasps?)
  3. Category:Cantharidae (ID to genus is probably possible)
  4. Category:Soldier beetles
  5. Category:Unidentified Apiaceae
  6. Category:Umbellifers
It would not be placed in any gallery until at least one of the 3 taxa is identified to species.