User:Quadell/The category solution

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I believe we should organize the Wikimedia Commons according to category, rather than by article. I'll explain what I mean and why I think the category solution is the best choice.

The problem[edit]

When a user uploads an image, he or she needs some way of letting people know what the image is of. It's nice to have all pictures of a certain topic to be listed together. There are currently two ways of doing this, and a lot of work is being duplicated. We should decide whether to use categories for topics, or articles. A vote is currently going on about this.

The default method[edit]

When the Commons started, many people chose to organize their content Wikipedia-style – that is, with an article on each topic showing the various images. This works adequately well, and the software was already set up to make searching easy for this. The problem is, when uploading an image, one has to edit the image description page (to give licensing information and other info), and then edit the pages of all topics the image might be in, to include the new image. The addition of an image of a Collie catching a Frisbee in Central Park would require the editing of five separate pages: the original image description page, the "Canis Domesticus" page, the "Collie" page, the "Frisbee" page, and the "New York Central Park" page. This is a lot of work for uploaders, and most of them don't do it. You end up with many images not included in any articles – there are currently over 3,500 such images which are lost.

The category solution[edit]

Fortunately, the concept of categories is built right into the Wikimedia software. Instead of placing images in articles, images will automatically be placed in categories if you add the correct category tags to the images you upload. Category pages can contain descriptive text, just like articles. (Here is an example.) They are full searchable. And since it's easy to include categories by changing only one file (rather than the five, above), it is much more likely to be actually used.

But. . .[edit]

Since this idea has been proposed, a number of objections have been raised. I'd like to address those.

  1. Searching only works with normal pages.
    Searching does currently work for categories, but it's more difficult at the present time due to the way the software is set up. But it would be very easy to change the software to make category searching just as easy and fluid as article searching. (This change, known as "Duesentrieb's proposal", would remove the "Category:" prefix to categories, making them essentially the same as articles. Linking would be easier too.)
  2. It is much easier to change the name of a normal page (e.g. wrong spelling) than the name of a category.
    That's true. But again, a software change could make this just as easy for categories.
  3. [Using articles] is good way to translate image descriptions. File names are not English only.
    Searching would not be by file name; searching would be by category name. And category pages could give translations just as easily as article pages.
  4. I would not want to miss the option to use (sub-)headlines
    Sub-categories would be used for this.
  5. It is not possible to add describing text, and it is not possible to change the size of the thumbnail.
    Yes, and that's clunky for now. But again, it would be a relatively easy software change. Ask yourself, if the software were set up for it, would you still have objections?


Because of the flexibility and ease of one-step uploading, I think the category solution is the best way to organize the Wikimedia Commons. I don't see any benefits to using the default solution once the software changes have been made. If you agree, go vote on Commons:Images on normal pages or categories:Vote. Thanks for reading. Quadell (talk) 17:53, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)