RationalWiki:Cat fight

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The following thread was copied from Human's Talk page on 3/18/08:

(Some preamble to the real meat of the thread)

Cleaning up categories I can understand. Targeting Category:Phony Ex-Satanist Christans, Category:Reptilian Shape Shifters, Category:Jesus Spam, etc. for deletion first made no sense at all. They seemed like a perfect fit for RW, irreverant, snarky and something people might be interested in a specific category for. Too narrow in scope? So is Category:Scientology. Too silly and irreverant? So are Category:BloodSugarSexMagick and all of the Woo categories, since woo is not a word. Seems to be a double standard here. And that double standard appeared (to me at least) to be based on who created them. This came right after the mission doubt tag got put on Facebook right after I created it, which I was fine with but if we are going to delete all the lulz from the site let's delete them all, starting with all the goat related stuff. Lulz are good, that's what made it such fun to edit here, but when I get the impression things I added thinking they were a perfect fit for the site are not welcome, the fun is over. Secret Squirrel 17:11, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

Squirrel, keep your pants on. Like you, I love the snark on this site. But I also believe that Categories shouldn't be part of that - if we go down that route, we might as well not bother having categories. If they too become endlessly entertaining, but I can guarantee that they'll become utterly useless. If you want to keep categories:Snark, Mockery AND Sarcasm, you'd be wanting a damn good argument in my book. Believe me, I was not targeting your work, I've been a Category Nazi since I ever got here, and it just so happened yours were the ones that came into my sights yesterday. I too have in the past argued for replacing BloodSexSugarMagick with Drugs, but it was created by others who were here before me, and they like it that way. Fine. But before you start adding back endless entertaining specific Categories, keep in mind that as of yesterday, we had > 300 categories, and no category for Archaeology, which to me seems a darn sight more targeted to our purpose than Phony Ex-Satanist Christians, which is an ARTICLE, not a Category. Keep the snark to the articles, but not to the Categories, PLEASE. DogP 18:09, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

(EC) Thanks for telling us what was up, I appreciate it! I think if early on you had made that exact argument on DP's (or my) talk page, a lot of frustration might have been bypassed. For instance, we could have discussed whether one user should go around deleting mass quantities of categories, whether we a lot of weird but interesting cats or not, etc. A question comes up that occurred to me - given all of the various outlets for lulz in wiki-editing (funny links from words, the writing itself...), do we want that to extend to cats as well? It would seem in line with our overall tone, but we should be having a conversation, not reacting to unilateral actions - both of which may be perceived by some to be damaging rather than improving the site. Coming to a general agreement between as many users who are interested before major refactoring makes for a better working/playing environment for everyone - even if one "loses" an argument, it is at least satisfying to be listened to first, and get a chance to see everyone's perspective before radical changes. (PS, woo is a word. One we define clearly on this site - at my request, since I had no idea in hell what it was when I came across it here!) Talk pages are a great vehicle for discussing almost anything before action, and there should never any big hurry to delete things within hours (unless they are libelous or vandalism, of course). Anyway, I hope that at least 1/3 of what I just typed made sense and that we can get a decent discussion going about these issues. humanUser talk:Human 18:10, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

One other thing - I don't know if you've tried to rename a badly named (or simply misspelled) but popular Category. If you have ever tried to deal with such a thing with hundreds of members, know that fixing that problem is a NIGHTMARE, as you have to rename it on each and every article. So just engage brain before creating any Category, it can screw with a LOT of stuff down the road. DogP 18:13, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

I was furious when you deleted "Category:Users on Dodecatuple Secret Probation... ROBOT HOUSE!!!". That was an Ames creation. TmtamesP 18:17, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

Tough shit. That was one of the worst offenders, even with all apologies to Ames. DogP 18:19, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

DP, please read my comment above. We need to agree as a group that we don't want some of these "trivial" categories, not have one user unilaterally make the decision. perhaps we should move this discussion to talk main page, since it is of wiki-wide interest and many people may have opinions. Personally, I certainly agree that categories that only have, say, one user page in them are clutter (a userbox works better), but I am not convinced that some of our general lulzy/snarky attitude cannot also be expressed in categories. Oh, and "tough shit" is not a very strong way to start your argument. Of course, you were responding to #17, so it was appropriate in context ;) humanUser talk:Human 18:28, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
Hey sport, what is #17? TmtamesP 18:31, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
#17 speaks! DogP 18:32, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

Absolutely, let's open a discussion about Categories! Main Page it is. Wanna move all this over, and then let's lay out some opening arguments for everyone to respond to? DogP 18:30, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

#17 is the new name for anything related to our long lost editor nadhoB. DP: I think copying it (or moving it and leaving a link) makes sense. Maybe it should get its own discussion page, say at rationalwiki/categories? With a seeding link from the main page? humanUser talk:Human 18:33, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
Yeah, I like that idea better. DogP 18:37, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
Care to explain how it came about, sport? TmtamesP 18:35, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
My doppelganger on CP, your BFF Nadhob17, as I recall, was one inspiration. humanUser talk:Human 20:10, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

I hope, in all this talk about "unilateral category changes", that none of you mean the hundred or so unilateral category changes I just did?[1] --Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 19:37, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

Kind of EXACTLY my point RA. You know how hard it is to wrangle categories. For me, what you were doing earlier is exactly what we need. DogP 19:41, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
Well, you did change one I knew we had and then couldn't use 'cause I couldn't find it... And, hey, Dog, please indent yr commenz. ;) I no we do it wrong hear an al but at leest we indenz. humanUser talk:Human 22:23, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

The discussion ensues[edit]

Bicker Discuss categories as they pertain to the wiki here.

Categories are those little tags on the end of wiki pages that tell you, well, the general topic a page belongs to. They can help guide you through a wiki, and they can also be fun to play with. Varied opinions exist among the RationalWiki community as to how Categories should be handled:

Some believe Categories should be kept to a minimum, and be completely free of editorial content, opinion, and jolly japes.

Some believe "Hey, we're RationalWiki, our stock-in-trade is comedy and opinion, and Categories aren't sacrosanct"

Others believe something in between.

But we should probably have some kind of policy, and we should probably try to agree on what we're happy with, so discuss below.

Arguments for Dapper, Sensible Categories[edit]

Here's a few examples of why the fewer and more sensible the categories, the better:

1. RW's side-by-side article on Michael Behe's book, Edge of Evolution is listed in these Categories:

Assessing pseudoscience
Pseudoscience Promoters
Best of pseudoscience
But is not categorised in:

2. None of the candidates in the category 2008 US Presidential Election are listed in the category People, which, I believe is one of the requirements to being Presidents. No animals, for example, are allowed become President of the US.

3. Clarence Thomas is categorised under Law, but not Lawyers, whereas Antonin Scalia is. And again, neither of them are categorised as People.

4. Christianity and Judaism are categorised as Religions while Islam, Hinduism nor Buddhism aren't. But the latter two are categorised as Non-Abrahamic Religions, which is at least something. But a reader would assume they're not Religions.

I could go on. And on. And on..... You may well pick holes in these examples, but there's thousands of even better examples out there. Go find them.

The point? The point is not that editors are doing terribly at categorising, it's that it's almost impossible to keep track of categories if they begin to mushroom and aren't kept in check. This problem becomes enormously magnified if each article is also to contain multiple lulzy categories. If you haven't manhandled categories, you should try it some time. It's enough to make your head implode.

So, I say - keep it tight, or else just go crazy. But if you go crazy, categories will completely lose any useful function, and we might as well not bother to have them. Which is fine too, but we should decide that. DogP 20:44, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

Yes, your examples really only indicate a need for more cats in those pages. Law and Lawyers are both good, Non-Abe religion should be in cat:religion, etc., The Behe thing should be in pseudoscience - but what if one of the cats it is in is in PS itself? That's just a nice tree function. Perhaps the pres candidates are in cats like "politicians" that might be in "people".
Anyway, what I see are arguments for adding cat tags, not deleting cats. All our cats are still visible on one load of the special:allpages. There are still places where removing and consolidating cats would create no controversy (like wooooo! dies and its contents go to woo). Scrolling through the list, though, I see lots of useful categories and not many fanciful ones.
Also, why did you add this section above the previous discussion below? humanUser talk:Human 20:57, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

Agreed, DogP. I had to spend nearly one hundred edits just replacing the misnamed Category:Human Rights with the correct version, Category:Human rights, not to mention killing off Category:Human society to replace it with Category:Society. And I have awful memories of Uncyclopedia, where there are so many redundant categories that they're completely useless. For any one category, there are five others covering the exact same thing, but with different humorous title. Do we really want to be like that? --Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 21:01, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

Answering DP's last question, no. What I think we want are well and heavily used "technical" cats, augmented by humorous ones that don't "overlap" them. humanUser talk:Human 21:05, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

Additionally, categories are one of the few pleasant ways to browse a wiki's articles, without having to resort to Special:All pages. We shaft visitors unforgivably if our categories become lulzy but useless, and if we don't spend time coordinating them better. We need to get rid of as many redundant categories as possible. --Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 21:07, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

I agree, categories might not be important to regulars, but they can prove to be essential to newcomers, especially if this is one of the first wikis they've been in (I've been in this position). NightFlareSpeak, mortal 21:16, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

Sorry to bleat on about this, but here's another example that is seriously confusing: There is a Category Cover stories, which one would assume would include explanations of our Cover Story policy, and all related articles and topics. But there is only one member of the Category, an article to "coordinate the showcasing" of our Cover Stories, which disappointingly links nowhere of much use, and to no Cover Story articles, other than a random one. That's because none of the articles which have either been a Cover Story or are nominated for the honour are a member of this category, but are instead members of two other categories (not sub-categories) Cover Story Articles or Cover story nominees. Finally, RationalWiki's Help Article for the subject 'Cover Story', which someone might reasonably expect to help clarify things, is not a member of any of the above categories.

It's just total chaos. I'm almost inclined to say let's totally forget about the Categories already. We're not smart enough. DogP 23:14, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

DP, that's not an argument to add or delete or change categories, it's evidence of some incomplete slop in the "cover story" template, which should add any article it's on to the cat. One more on my todo list... PS, who deleted all the stuff that was the intro to this article? humanUser talk:Human 00:23, 19 March 2008 (EDT)
I'm sorry but you're completely wrong Human. It's blindingly obvious it's an argument to add, delete, or change categories. Or, as I said, we simply ignore them Because in almost every article I look at on this site, they are a mess, and it makes it impossible to use this fine, fine, Trustworthy resource. DogP 02:57, 19 March 2008 (EDT)
Doggedpersistence moved it to the talk page, in fact. Dark Matter Glaucopis 00:29, 19 March 2008 (EDT)
Interesting way to remove some of the discussion. It belongs here and I put it back. I also whinged about what I consider to be shenanigans on the talk page. humanUser talk:Human 00:37, 19 March 2008 (EDT)
Yes I moved it, and I stand over my right to do so - this started on a Talk page. And this page will need a Talk page. And if this Talk Page from a different Talk Page is on the Project Page, oh I don't know, it's just another frickin' mess. I genuinely believe this entire Talk Page thread belongs on the Talk Page here, Human. And please -moving this to the Talk page wasn't exactly burning the evidence. DogP 02:57, 19 March 2008 (EDT)
I don't know about you, but I'm smart enough.  : ) --Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 00:07, 19 March 2008 (EDT)
That, you certainly are, RA. Hurray for RA! DogP 02:57, 19 March 2008 (EDT)

By the way, it's not "total chaos". We just need to make sure to add "strong" categories to articles that need them. The "structure" may not caress your brain appropriately to you, but I also remember when SusanG's head exploded when I suggested two categories could be "in" each other. Then she realized she was thinking of them as a "tree" structure (understandable), but they can be a net just as easily. A broad net. humanUser talk:Human 00:37, 19 March 2008 (EDT)

I have no problem with that model on paper, but I do have a problem with how it seems to end up in practice. You say, "We just need to make sure to add "strong" categories to articles that need them". Absolutely - but who's going to do it? Have you tried manhandling 1000 articles in a category? Got access to any automated tools that can help? So let's give editors some guidance from as early as possible in their experience. As to the categories being subs or inside, no porblem - but in the cases listed - and I can promise you, many, many more - they're neither.
In the meantime, there's more than a thousand fairly good articles in Articles needing RWification that could do with major help in this department. DogP 02:57, 19 March 2008 (EDT)

I would've so loved to see that. --Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 01:40, 19 March 2008 (EDT)

Are you really asking me if I've done major housekeeping chores, opening 20 tabs at a time, doing the same fix in all, then repeating that process a half dozen times? Yes, I have. 1000 articles in a cat? Don't think we have that problem yet, with only 2000-odd articles. Hopefully someday :) It still sounds to me like what we need to do is go on a catting binge, before we worry about what cats need to be deleted. And mockery is different than snark or sarcasm, although the latter two might survive as one.
As far as helping new editors, I think the problem is no one ever "RTFM"s. Ever. Do you think our new users go to the links in the welcome template? I doubt it. So only already wiki-savvy writers are likely to take the trouble to add cats, and hopefully ediitors who become savvy while here. Our help pages go into detail about things like adding links and cats when writing new articles. Perhaps we should consider reworking the welcome template? Nah, no one reads it past the words "welcome, neweditorwelove"... humanUser talk:Human 13:16, 19 March 2008 (EDT)
Well, both Articles needing RWification and Articles needing expansion have > 1000 members? And you're right - no-one reads the Welcome. Oh Christ, I have no idea. I just know it's hell to try and deal with. DogP 13:21, 19 March 2008 (EDT)
That's because template:stub adds them both automatically, and the template is automatically added to any relatively short article when Trent runs stubbot. They aren't "real" cats in the sense of people adding them. I often change "stub" to "nostub" (blocks stubbot) if I think a short article is pretty much complete. As far as dealing with it, try to have fun rather than too much work ;) Do what you're in the mood to do, but don't try to fix the "entire site", your head will asplode! Once in a while I'll pull up some list, like "wanted pages" or those cats you mentioned, if I feel like writing, and fix a few. Then I'll go hassle Bohdan, and write something silly. Other times I just hassle Bohdan and write something silly. By the way, a lot of those "VSA"s are really short, often not even a complete sentence, and date from early last summer. humanUser talk:Human 13:27, 19 March 2008 (EDT)

I'm gonna go fix those examples I listed above, then I'm stopping as I'm leaving town for a few days. See y'all next week. DogP 13:31, 19 March 2008 (EDT)

Arguments for High-Lulz Categories[edit]

Lulz, of course. NightFlareSpeak, mortal 21:11, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

Not much here yet? M'kay. I'll bite. Categories like Category:People, Category:Religion, and Category:Christians are too broad to be all that useful. Categories should help people navigate the site by finding related topics. If someone is interested in reading about or debunking a specific area they would want a category covering only that area. Category:Alternative medicine and Category:Scientology serve this purpose; Category:Pseudoscience and Category:Religion are too broad. A good way to organize this would make the broad categories parent categories. The question is really whether the more specific categories should have irreverant, high-lulz names or serious names. I am going to put in my two cents worth for high-lulz names; they fit the spirit of the site, they fit the tone of the articles themselves, and there is already an encyclopedia covering all of the same topics organized under serious category names (Wikipedia). Part of RW is about being the anti-Conservapedia but for the other part, debunking pseudoscience and crank ideas, do we really want to just duplicate Wikipedia minus the NPOV policy? Secret Squirrel 17:17, 21 March 2008 (EDT)

Arguments that a false dichotomy has been presented[edit]

High lulz cats do not prevent a well though out sensible set of categories from also existing and working well. humanUser talk:Human 00:28, 19 March 2008 (EDT)

Once again, you're Strawmanning me. Jeez, this is like arguing with Andy. I never said it didn't, and if you paid attention, you'd see I'm a big fan of lulzy categories. Just fewer of them, and more controlled. Like, not having all three of Sarcasm, Mockery, and Snark, for example. Please don't misrepresent my arguments Human. DogP 03:15, 19 March 2008 (EDT)
I am only observing the structure as you created it, with two "arguments" sections. My bad, sorry, if I imputed thoughts you weren't having. new section: (human)

Arguments for strong, sensible categories bolstered with well considered lulzy ones as well[edit]

This is basically my position. Good strong categories on every article, with the sillier ones where appropriate. I also don't think "more" cats is a bad thing. I think "lots" of cats (esp. on each article) binds the site together better. humanUser talk:Human 13:09, 19 March 2008 (EDT)


Is it bad that I didn't get the pun in the title until it was pointed out at RWW? NightFlareSpeak, mortal 21:07, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

Oh come now. Surely not? DogP 21:46, 18 March 2008 (EDT)

Encyclopedia or blog?[edit]

Perhaps it comes down to whether RW is an encyclopedia (which needs a rational system of categories) or a bizarro world mirror-image opposite of CP with an emphasis on the lulz (where categories are merely another kind of fun). Rational Edwelcome to the bizarro world 12:48, 19 March 2008 (EDT)

Well, it's not a 'pedia. But it is also hopefully more than the second option you gave. That's why I think we should have both a solid set of good, useful cats used as heavily as possible, and allow "silly" cats for fun. Say you're at Fred Phelps - you might want to go to religion, or religious leaders, or homosexuality, but you also might be curious what is behind the "dirt bags" (or some such) door. That's what I think, at least.— Unsigned, by: human / talk / contribs

Yup. I'm in complete agreement with that. DogP 13:12, 19 March 2008 (EDT)

This is one of many discussions that has descended into petty snipping and trolling idiocy on RationalWiki.
Here are the others, in case you are curious, bored, or enjoy pain:
- Analysis of the relative income streams of the National Football League and international rugby union -- Barroom brawls -- Chicken coop -- Chicken coop/Archive37 -- Community Standards/Revamp, January 2009 -- Community Standards/Revamp draft -- Community Standards/TK -- Community Standards/disruption -- Constitutional Convention, April 2008 -- Drama dump -- Epic debate -- HeartOfGold Sysop vote -- Inactivity -- Is RationalWiki under the control of Feminist activists? -- Make TK a sysop? -- Nuclear Option -- Privacy clusterfuck -- Property rights in WIGOs -- Requests for comment/HeartOfGold -- Serious Business -- Site politics -- Statement candidacy for the RationalWiki Foundation Board of Trustees -- The Rationalwiki Reform Society -- The case of MarcusCicero -- The mobocracy -- User:Copyvio's campaign to stop copyvio -- User rights and moderation revisited -- Voting Procedure -- Voting standards -