Why they exist
In a wiki with 3,600 articles, it is sometimes hard to find your way. And the more it grows, the harder it becomes to find an article. The Wikimedia software provides various tools for locating an article: the search function on the left of your screen makes it possible to jump directly to an article (provided that you know its title by heart) by pushing the "Go" button, or to search all articles for a keyword by pushing the "search" button. You can also use the All pages function for an alphabetical list of all articles; and you can use the "what links here" function to obtain a list of all articles that contain a link to the current article (e.g. Special:Whatlinkshere/Scandinavian_Realm lists all articles linking to the Scandinavian Realm). Obviously, all these tools can be helpful indeed, but if you are looking for all articles related to a certain subject, they are far from sufficient. Of course it is possible to create directory pages with only links (like Nations of Ill Bethisad and the Famous Persons Page), but they have the disadvantage that everything needs to be maintained twice and pages like that tend to become obsolete pretty quickly if no one looks after them. Therefore, the software provides another tool as well: categories.
What they are
Categories are essentially groupings of interrelated articles, that therefore can be considered as articles belonging to one taxonomic category. To give an example: particularly well-represented in Ill Bethisad are countries, languages and fictional or semi-fictional people. Therefore, it is useful to have separate categories for them: Category:Nations, Category:Language, and Category:People. If you are looking for a particular country, or if you are just surfing, you can simply browse through the category in question in order to find it easily. Likewise, we have a Category:Culture, a Category:Media and Entertainment, a Category:History, as well as many others. Ideally, they are all grouped directly or indirectly in one main category.
Categories can contain articles, but also other categories. These are known as subcategories. If we take the example of Category:Nations, we end up with a huge amount (about 200) of countries listed there. In such situations it can be useful to go further into detail by creating a Category:Nations in Europe, Category:Nations in Asia, Category:Defunct Nations, etc. These subcategories can also have their own subcategories. If for example there is a significant number of articles about Kemr, it is useful to create a separate Category:Kemr, which contains all articles pertaining to the country and exists as a subcategory of Category:Nations in Europe; the latter, in turn, is a subcategory not only of Category:Nations, but also of Category:Europe.
This way, the categories form one huge tree with many branches and levels, making it very easy to navigate through the vast amount of our articles.
How to find them
There are several ways to find the category you are looking for: the most important categories are directly linked to from the Main Page. You can also access them in tree view. For a complete list of all categories, click here. Alternatively, you can also use the "search" function (provided that categories are including in your searches, see you preferences. Of course, you can always access the category a page belongs to by clicking on "Categories: xxx, xxx, xxx" at the bottom of each page.
How to use them
Adding an article to a category is simple: at the bottom of the article, you place the following text:
substituting "NAME" with the name of the category to which you want to add it. You can add an article to as many categories as you want. After saving, you will see the text "Categories: xxx, xxx, xxx" at the bottom of the page. By clicking on one of them, you can see that your article has been added there, and also which other articles belong to that category.
Basically, you can place this text anywhere in the article. It is, however, good practice to place it somewhere where it can be found easily, preferably at the bottom.
Within a category, all articles are listed alphabetically. If you want to place your article elsewhere in the alphabetical order, you can do so very simply by adding a pipe, |, after the syntax above, followed by your preferred place in the alphabetisation. This feature is particularly useful in the case of names: the titles of articles about persons usually begin with their first name, followed by their the surname, but you would probably rather alphabetise the category on surname rather than first name. For example, in the article about Antanas Smetona, the syntax
will place it in Category:Lithuania as if the title of the article were just "Smetona".
If you want to refer to a category without actually adding the page you are working on to it (for example, on talk pages), use a ":" before the word "category": [[:Category:NAME]]. That way you create a normal link to a category. The syntax [[:Category:Wars]] shows up in the text as Category:Wars.
How to create them
If you have added an article to a category that does not exist yet, you will see a red link appearing in the categories section at the bottom of the page. You can edit a category like any normal article. It's recommendable (but not imperative) that you give a very short description of the category. You can also add them to another category in the same way as in articles. Don't use category space to convey information that would rather belong in an article.
You can also create a category by simply typing http://ib.frath.net/w/Category:NAME in the address line. Since, however, there is not the slightest need for empty categories, this method has to be strongly advised against.
In general, try to use one of the existing categories (the easiest way to find them is the Categories Tree). You can create a new one if you feel there are a significant number of articles that would qualify for inclusion, or at least if you expect there will be in the near future. Categories of only one or two items make things only needlessly complicated!
Categorising redirect pages
Redirect pages have no content of their own, and therefore there's rarely a need for categorising them. But in some cases it can be useful. If you want to categorise a redirect page, you can make it work by writing the category on the same line as the redirect; it doesn't work if you put it elsewhere on the page. For example, the redirect page Courland contains the following text:
- #REDIRECT [[Latvia]] [[Category:Defunct Nations]]
If you click on Courland now, you'll be redirected automatically to the Latvia page, where all there's to know about Courland can be found, but in the meantime "Courland" is nicely listed within Category:Defunct Nations!
Keep in mind that this "trick" is probably based on a bug in the software, so that it is unknown of this will still be possible in future versions.
What to avoid
- Before creating a new category, please make sure that you are not creating something that exists already under a different name. Keep in mind, category names are case-sensitive. At some point, articles about the North American League were divided between a Category:NAL, a Category:North American League and a Category:NAL-SLC, while several other articles pertaining to it were in the Category:North America. It's better to avoid such situations!
- Try also to avoid creating very small categories (i.e. categories that consist of one or two articles only). There is, for example, no use for a Category:Batavian people - the very few Batavians in our collection will feel perfectly at home in the Category:People and the Category:Batavian Kingdom. Only when their number grows to five or so, the creation of such a subcategory would be worth considering. In that case the new subcategory ought to become a sub of both Category:People and Category:Batavian Kingdom.
- Also, don't overcategorise! There are possible categories that simply nobody is waiting for. This is not Wikipedia, and something of the type Category:People born in 1898 is of no use to any of us.
- In general, don't add an article to several levels of the same branch of the category tree. For example, Dalmatia is a state in Europe, and therefore the Category:Nations in Europe is where it belongs. Since this is already a subcategory of both Category:Nations and Category:Europe, there is no need to add it to those two as well.