Categories are more than simple tags placed at the bottom of an article; they organize a wiki's content and offer vast navigational potential between related articles. Ideally categories connect together like branches of a tree to form a solid foundation for a wiki to thrive. Wikis that misuse or neglect their categories miss out on the benefits a category tree provides for both readers and editors alike.
The modernization of article headers may result in increased importance directed to categories and user practices regarding their creation and formatting.
What is a category tree?
A category tree is a hierarchy of categories, or even more straightforward, a flow chart. It's a road map to the wiki's content. The tree has one base that branches out into primary branches, secondary branches, and twigs before eventually ending with just the leaves, which are the articles.
What does a category tree accomplish?
A strong category tree offers assistance to all users: readers and editors. Perhaps a user doesn't know the name of the article they mean to find or they want to see what articles of a specific type exits. A tree directs a user through the wiki's content without even needing to navigate article pages themselves. Strong categories also increase editing efficiency by allowing editors to go through every related article to make changes without omission as well as extending the usefulness of programs like AutoWikiBrowser (AWB).
How can I create one for a wiki?
The following steps will get you started no matter the state of a wiki's categories:
- If you do so, stop using categories as tags. Random terms that may only apply to a couple articles, subjective categories, and categories that are never properly created are not helpful in the bigger picture nor do they add well to a concise tree.
- Take the time to write out the various types of articles comprising the wiki (characters, episodes, media, etc) and organize them in a logical fashion. Special:Categories can be used as a guide for what's most used on the wiki. Don't focus solely on category ideas that can be placed on articles; be sure to consider categories for categories, especially if the wiki covers a large amount of content (for example, media may contain categories for albums, games, DVDs, etc). Consider all pages on the wiki that may have categories (files, administrative content, etc).
- Use the framed plan to go through articles adding, removing, or keeping categories that made the previous cut. Once finished, Special:UnusedCategories can assist in deleting discarded categories.
- Add a description to every category page that exists on the wiki including what types of articles should be in that category, more so if there's likely to be confusion about what goes into the category. Even if the category seems obvious, a proper description can help its SEO.
- Add categories to category pages if a parent category is planned. Special:UncategorizedCategories will help in this process, and at the conclusion, only one category should be listed (the parent category for the wiki - usually Category:Browse). Add this category to the wiki's home page.
- Display the wiki's category tree somewhere it can easily be accessed by all users. For example, Munkapedia's category tree is displayed on a Project page linked through the wiki-navigation as well as the first link in the home page's welcome description.
- Finally, maintain the tree. Address poor quality categories as they are added to articles and create an addition to the wiki's policies if they are a constant problem. Don't forget to keep Special:WantedCategories and the other uncategorized special pages empty.
Category trees on other wikis
Know of any additional well-build category trees and practices on other wikis? Share them below! I would love to hear of any other ways wikis showcase their categories.