Forums: Index > Watercooler > People by place

I would draw your attention on some inconsistencies which make the use of the lists slightly confusing.

In the Death place you are sent to the Category: People by death country, where you find some countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, The Netherlands. However other countries are missing from the list. Now, this is a subcategory of Category:Death by country which contains other countries such as France, Germany a.s.o but not others. New Zealand and Australia are in both. I would list all the countries in the Category People by death country so that whoever uses the facility can directly find the category he is looking for, and not fumble around trying to find it.

The same goes for People by birth place, where some countries are not listed in the People by birth country. Thus if you are looking for Burundi, India, Thailand or New Zealand you first have to find the appropriate continent.

With your permission I would make the appropriate corrections.

Afil 20:00, March 16, 2011 (UTC)

Robin's first responses[]

Gaps and discrepancies

I've not looked at all of the examples Andrei mentions, but I can see that there are gaps that could be filled. There may be categories that are really not helpful. The one Andrei singled out, Category:Death by country, may seem less useful than Category:People by death country; however, it matches a Wikipedia category, which is a rather compelling reason to keep it and fill its gaps, and its name is shorter with no loss of meaning. There is reference to gaps and discrepancies in the text of Category:People_by_place, with its text concluding: "Anyone seeing such inconsistencies is encouraged to discuss it on an appropriate Talk or Forum page". This forum may get us closer to major improvements. Thank you for bringing up the subject, Andrei.


Clearly the structure is not perfect. It was created mostly by a few individuals, often working up from a single low-level category such as Category:Died in Greene County, Ohio creating suitable-looking parent categories. I've done a lot of that, and I know I didn't always remember whether there was any agreed or ideal structure on which to model new categories.

There are advantages in using every relevant category used by Wikipedia. Its categories have had more people thinking about them and more people available to use bots to create and change categories. However, its system is not complete or even perfect as far as it goes.

Divergences have arisen from extending upwards our finer categorization. Wikipedia still does not have a category for deaths in specific counties of Ohio matching our Category:Died in Greene County, Ohio. The nearest is, which did not exist 10 months ago. (It was moved from Category:Human death in Ohio. We have some in that latter form, which we should move and/or redirect too.) At the level of our "Born in" and "Resided in", Wikipedia has categories for "People of", which I have said is too ambiguous to be useful here. But even "People of" does not extend as far down the "place" hierarchy as some of our similar categories do. There is a,_Ohio; but it is not linked from the article (as our equivalents are), and that sort of category does not extend to every county-equivalent of every country (for example, has subcategories for only two of that region's eight or more constituent cities or districts - and it has one subcategory that is quite wrong).

Logical names for parent categories of Category:Died in Greene County, Ohio are Category:Greene County, Ohio, which matches a Wikipedia category and is no trouble, and Category:Died in Ohio, which is equivalent to WP's Category:Death_in_Ohio but with different wording. We extended Category:Died in Ohio and its thousands of "cousins" up to country and continent level without trying to match WP. Since then, however, some of Wikipedia's categories have crept in here from the complete copying of WP articles (which is a recommended procedure) and categories. We therefore get parallels, such as Category:Died in France and Category:Human death in France.


We need to remove the parallels. Some of our regular contributors are proficient at using bots, which would be the only sensible way to make any widespread changes we might agree on. Individuals who are keen to improve a few category linkages would be free to do so but might be wasting their time.

As Wikipedia has not, in its 9 or 10 years of existence, gone as far as Category:Died in Greene County, Ohio, it may be reasonable to expect that it will not get there any time soon, so that we can keep our county-level "event in place" categories intact. But at the state level Wikipedia has clearly created equivalent categories, and that (and higher levels, of course) may be where we should move to match WP.

The final important point that I can think of is that the value of all of these categories will diminish as we improve our use of Semantic MediaWiki. Not as fast as some of our optimists say it will, but it can be expected to come eventually. Current categories could be replaced by concepts or just with instructions to users on how to create their own queries to list people by whatever semantic properties we have. Much better than "Born in Greene County". See, for example, Semantic MediaWiki/demo query-subquery. It lists (in a way that allows sorting by a particular column) all Familypedia people born in Pennsylvania whose father was stated to be born between 1849 and 1875. It has six columns - article name, birth date, death date, birth locality, birth county, father - but could have different columns with only very small changes to the coding.

--- Robin Patterson (Talk to me) 01:35, March 17, 2011 (UTC)))


In order to be useful, if categories are used their structure has to be consistent. Generally for Familypedia categories of the type which is under discussion are structured as: People by location. A category named Death by country does not respect this structure. I would therefore suggest that categories "People by birth place" and "People by death place" be used.

These categories should contain the subcategory: "People by death continent" as well as other subcategories such as "People who died at sea".

The People by death continent should include subcategories such as "Died in Europe" or "Died in Asia".

In turn each of these should have further subcategories such as "Died in France" or "Died in Thailand"

For the time being, it does not seem necessary to go further with the subdivisions. However, if for any category the number of articles increases excessively that particular category could be subdivided further. For instance the "Died in the United States" could include subdivisions for states such as "Died in Virginia" or "Died in Australia" could include subdivisions by provinces such as "Died in Queensland". This however should be done only as the need for such subcategories arises. As a standard, it would be preferable not to have more than 250 articles in any one category.

I agree with Robin that MediaWiki semantics may be superior, but that they will not be implemented tomorrow.

I would like to stress that these categories finally include articles on people who died in a particular place. The wikipedia category Death in Ohio, quoted by Robin has a different scope. The subcategories are not places but the type of Death: Murdered etc. The structure which was suggested refers to the place of death. We could another structure of categories regarding the type of death or cause of death. Thus the category of "Died in France" could have subcategories by province, department or other administrative units, while the category "Human deaths in France" could have subcategories: "Suicides in France", "Murders in France" etc.

If the names of wikipedia categories are different, there always is the possibility of having categoryredirects

Personally I am not a fan of Wikipedia categories. Wikipedia is an example of "Too many cooks spoil the broth". And it is not focused on genealogy problems. But this is not the place to criticise Wikipedia but to improve Familypedia

Andrei Afil 00:29, March 18, 2011 (UTC) Afil 00:29, March 18, 2011 (UTC)

Listing the upper-level categories[]

Here is the current list of subcategories of Category:People by place:

     [+] Category:People by first-level administrative country subdivisions (1)
     [+] Category:People by country and city (4)
     [+] Category:People by second-level administrative country subdivision (5)
     [+] Category:Mayors by city (3)
     [+] Category:People by birth place (3)
     [+] Category:People by capital (5)

  • cont.
     [+] Category:People by death place (4)
     [+] Category:People by marriage place (3)
     [+] Category:People by metropolitan area (1)


     [+] Category:People by first-level administrative country subdivision (8)
     [+] Category:Ancestry by location (26)


     [+] Category:Colonists by place (3)

C cont.

     [+] Category:People by continent (13)
     [+] Category:People by country (13)


     [+] Category:Deaths by location (7)


     [+] Category:People by island (5)


     [+] Category:People by nationality and location (2)


     [+] Category:People by school (1)

A bit of a jumble? There may be some we don't want or that should be lower down. What impotant categories should be in there but are not?

--- Robin Patterson (Talk to me) 07:36, April 3, 2011 (UTC)

Smaller places not covered in the English Wikipedia[]

Near the end of 2013, Wikipedia has more "place" articles and categories but is still seriously deficient for countries where English is not the main language. The following sections of a note on my talk page (which started by discussing categories) are appropriate for reproduction here, because they deserve a wider response. -- Robin Patterson (Talk) 01:55, October 17, 2013 (UTC)

... I also do transfer information from WP when it is available, which is the case for bigger cities in other countries. Unfortunately when we go to smaller settlements in other countries the situation is different. I am mainly concerned with countries in Central and Eastern Europe about which I know more than for instance countries from Asia and South America. For these, unfortunately the information from the English language Wikipedia is incomplete. For Romania and Moldova no articles for rural settlements are accepted - they exist however in Romanian, Hungarian and sometimes even German or Portuguese Wikipedias. There are very few for other countries for which I have used information: the Czech Republic, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia or Lithuania to quote just a few. For all these I use the information of the national Wikipedias which unfortunately I cannot just copy, but have to translate.

I also encounter another difficulty. Familypedia is an encyclopedia which is mainly concerned with persons and their genealogy or other specific information, such as birth, death or marriage localities. In Central and Eastern Europe the situation has historically been much less stable than in the UK or US. The same locality may have a different name in Hungarian, Slovak, German, Polish, Slovenian or Romanian. While today's day is relevant for the article regarding these localities, the biographies of various persons quote the names of these localities such as they were before. It is essential to present all the names used by the various historic ruling countries in order to have the system work and to make the links work. Wikipedia has a different scope and is less concerned. In most cases the information can be found in different national Wikipedias, but has to be compiled.

I just want to inform you that I am doing this for Central and Eastern Europe, about which I know more. I do not have the capacity to do it for other parts of the world, not only the UK or US (where I live and which I know), but for northern Europe (such as Sweden, Norway, Finland just to give you an example), about which I know very little.

All this is just to tell you that I am concerned about the quality of information which is presented in Familypedia and its usefulness for the scope of Familypedia.

Afil (talk) 21:17, October 16, 2013 (UTC)

Redirects are used for "foreign" or less-common names of places to direct readers instantly to the actual articles. No limit on the number of redirects we can have. -- Robin Patterson (Talk) 02:30, October 17, 2013 (UTC)

Familypedia has an outline structure for articles in languages other than English. Most of the current non-English articles are about people, but I see no problem extending it to places. See Forum:This Wikia is now multilingual. -- Robin Patterson (Talk) 02:30, October 17, 2013 (UTC)

2016 update[]

Have we made progress on resolving some of the above problems? Has Wikipedia started to go to lower levels in any relevant fields? Is Andrei happy to extend his work to Western Europe? -- Robin Patterson (Talk) 01:23, June 19, 2016 (UTC)