Wikipedia talk:User categories/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3

The last redlinked categories on user pages

After several months of work, the backlog of about 30,0000 red-linked categories in Special:WantedCategories has finally been cleared. Congrats to @Rathfelder, Spiderjerky, Le Deluge, and Gjs238, and others who have done this work.

User:BrownHairedGirl/sandbox999a (permalink) contains a list of the 6 remaining red-linked categories.

Two of them are the products of a test page User:DMacks/test.js, which was created by User:DMacks to illustrate a technical issue being discussed at Wikipedia:Village pump (technical)#Categories_for_.js_pages.

The remaining 4 categories are intentionally redlinked user categories:

  1. Category:Wikipedians with red-linked categories on their user talk page (27 pages)
  2. Category:Wikipedians in red-linked categories (1 pages)
  3. Category:Wikipedians with redlinked categories on their user page (0 pages)
  4. Category:Wikipedians with red-linked categories on their userpage (2 pages)

In various discussions, I think that there has been a rough consensus to retain Category:Wikipedians with red-linked categories on their user talk page as the last remnant of a formerly widespread joke. As one category which is usually at the top of Special:WantedCategories, it doesn't impede the ongoing cleanup of the red-linked categories, which appear at a rate of between 50 and 200 per day.

Some editors prefer to have the red-linked joke on their user page rather than user-talk, so it seems to me to be appropriate to keep one-redlinked category for that purpose. However, we currently have three of them, which leaves them dotted around the list at Special:WantedCategories, which is a bit of a nuisance ... and I think it's an avoidable nuisance.

Please could the editors who want these categories on their user page agree on one title to use? I have no preference for which title is chosen, but I suggest that that Category:Wikipedians with red-linked categories on their user page might be the simplest, since it follows the same format as Category:Wikipedians with red-linked categories on their user talk page.

Pinging the 5 editors who use the three current categories: @SmokeyJoe, Tothwolf, Trevj, Rubbish computer, and HJ Mitchell. Please could you consider standardising this, to assist the editors working on category maintenance?

Thanks! --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs)

As you say, I prefer it on my userpage. Beyond that, I don't feel strongly about the exact for of words and I'm happy to go with the flow if it makes someone else's life easier. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 13:46, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
  • I'm just voicing my support for BHG's request here. I'd love to see this short list get trimmed down to a single pair. Personally, I like Category:Wikipedians in red-linked categories, as it works in either user space or user talk. But I will refrain from switching to that until the others have had a chance to weigh in. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 14:21, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
  • I'm happy if we retained a single standardised form of this category, as long as its complement is kept red as well. The suggested wording for it is Category:Wikipedians not in red-linked categories. – Uanfala (talk) 16:36, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
    • As discussed at great length with Uanfala, both at User talk:Uanfala and elsewhere (e.g. Category talk:Wikipedians without red-linked categories on their user talkpage), there is a pressing need to minimise the number of red-linked categories, because every one of them is an obstacle in the way of category maintenance. The former galaxy of redlinked user categories is now reduced to a handful, so the joke of a red-linked cat which claims not be redlinked is old and stale. Time to let it go. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 17:31, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
      • The joke isn't a form of sarcasm directed at the former abundance of red categories. It's just a piece of timeless self-referential humour. I'm not claiming that it's particularly funny though, only that it's not "stale". Uanfala (talk) 17:40, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Congratulations you guys, on sucking some of the fun out of the project. Well done. -Roxy the dog. bark 17:41, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
    • Roxy, there are plenty of ways of having fun which do not involve intentionally placing obstacles in the path of other editors. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 18:00, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
Yeah, I agree with BHG on this. Having one such category is a joke (which is funny, I don't care what anyone else thinks), but having multiple different versions of the same exact joke just ruins the original joke, as well as making a mess for other editors. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 18:11, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
I think BrownHairedGirl's effort has been heroic and is to be congratulated. And I am pleased that we have eventually negotiated a solution which Roxy the dog. can live with. Mind you I will now have to go back to writing articles because there are so few red categories to fix.Rathfelder (talk) 18:41, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
You screwed around with the appearance of my user page based on a claim that it was preventing vital work being done. At least have the courtesy to stop being smug when admitting that the benefit to it was negligible. --Floquenbeam (talk) 18:53, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
Floquenbeam, the disruption caused by each individual redlinked user category is indeed small. However, the cumulative effect of hundreds of these categories was hugely disruptive to clearing the 30,000-category backlog.
It is notable that many editors who had such categories on their userpages understood that collective gain comes from cumulative effect of the removal of individual categories. Most of them had been unaware of the adverse effect, and had no desire to disrupt encyclopedic maintenance. Sadly, a very small minority of editors took the view that their own contribution to the overall mess should somehow be disregarded ... ignoring the corollary if that if everyone took that view, the whole mess would go unfixed.
Some of those editors were also furious that anyone would tamper with their userpage. These extremists simply refused to consider the fact that the problem lies not in their userpage itself, but in the fact that the userpage was creating a problem elsewhere. Mercifully, the vast majority of editors remember that Wikipedia is a collaborative project, and do not take such a selfish view. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 19:30, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
@BrownHairedGirl:Calling someone an extremist for getting upset that someone else edited their own userpage in a way they didn't approve (and then edit-warred over it, if I recall correctly) is ludicrously hyperbolic, and pretty clearly a personal attack.
@Floquenbeam:Maybe you can help me, because I'm a little confused. I'm all for funny categories (see the RfC above, where I've fought like hell to include them in the list of appropriate uses of categories), and I get why Category:Wikipedians with red-linked categories on their user talk page is funny (see my previous comment in this thread). But I don't get what's funny about having any other red-linked categories on one's userpage. I mean, I'm all about humor, from dick jokes to dry humor and from Monty Python to SNL. Hell, I even think Dane Cook is funny, and apparently I'm the only human being alive who does! But just having red linked categories... I only see one punchline to that; how angry the anti-humor editors who work in categories get over them, and that's the sort of joke that just doesn't have any place here. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 20:02, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
@MjolnirPants: the idea that userpages are exempt from outside interference is a common misconception.
WP:USERPAGE is clear that editors get a lot of leeway in what they do with those pages, but there are and always have been limits on what is permissible. The first para of WP:UPNOT is explicit that the guiding principle is don't be inconsiderate. Thankfully, only a very few editors chose to adopt the extremist view that they are entitled to be inconsiderate. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 20:49, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
I didn't say a thing about policy, I said something about you calling other editors "extremists". Ever heard of WP:AGF? ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 21:11, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
MJP, I know that guideline well. Did you ever read the first line of the nutshell at the top of that page?
As you will see there, editors are not required to assume good faith when there is clear evidence to the contrary. In this case, a very small number of editors have persisted in disruptive conduct despite being shown uncontested evidence of how their humour is disrupting encyclopedic maintenance. They have rejected non-disruptive alternatives, and chosen to be selfish extremists. Thankfully, there are very few of them. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 21:49, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
That is the most ludicrous, self-serving, logically decrepit and policy-ignorant argument I have ever heard in my entire tenure on this project, and I mean that completely literally. It puts brand new editors arguing that NPOV means they get to add their favorite conspiracy theories to shame. I can't even begin to describe how incredibly deeply my faith in this project has been damaged by the thought of such a load of tripe coming out of the mouth of an admin. I'm done here. Forget about my offer to help. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 22:12, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
That's the first time I have ever been called policy-ignorant for pointing out that someone has missed the crucial first line of a guideline they cited. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 22:33, 30 March 2017 (UTC)
Please don't let me interrupt any arguing if editors are enjoying that, but I was concerned about what Floq said, so I looked at that user page history. I think it's no big deal to change categories from red to blue, but I saw an edit there that simply deleted a large number of categories from the user page. That is not OK. We can parse the degree to which an editor does or does not "own" their own user page, but an editor has every right to take issue when another editor, without consent, deletes stuff from their user page that isn't malicious or anything like that. In my mind, such a deletion is vastly more disruptive than any supposed disruption of keeping humorous categories, and it gives a lot of credibility to the label "category police". --Tryptofish (talk) 01:19, 31 March 2017 (UTC)
I do agree. Rathfelder's edit here was rude, and I'm not sure whether the apology has been made. It is nice that Special:WantedCategories is now easy to maintain, I presume it's maintenance is valuable. I wonder, User:BrownHairedGirl, did anything come of my suggestion to insert colons? What have you been doing with single member weird redlinked categories? Did you turn everything, no matter how weird, blue with redirects? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 01:50, 31 March 2017 (UTC)
SmokeyJoe, the ability to maintain Special:WantedCategories is very valuable. The update on 29 March was the first where nearly everything was a new redlink, and it contained a mixture of:
  1. Categories where a suitable alternative existed
  2. Categories which needed to be created
  3. Categories unlikely ever to be appropriate
  4. Articles which had been vandalised or otherwise unconstructively edited (e.g. by editors who mistake categorisation for blog-style free-form tagging)
Thanks to clearing the backlog and removing all the intentional redlinks, those fixes could all be done relatively easily.
As to the redlinked user categories: I made several attempts at inserting colons to convert the categories to links, but after several editors objected, I gave up. The massive job of clearing the backlog has been a full-time task for me for 3 months (and any other editors have also done huge amounts of work on it). The task would not have been completed if we had continued to engage in time-wasting arguments with the very few selfish extremists who demand the right to disrupt maintenance work. So those categs which had previously been deleted by a consensus discussion I redirected to Category:Wikipedians who retain on their userpages categories which have been deleted by consensus; the rest I created as subcats of Category:Idiosyncratic Wikipedians. I did that no matter how weird or pointless the category was, simply to remove the redlinks which were impeding maintenance.
I am sad to see Rathfelder's removal of a bunch of redlinks described as rude. There is no ban on editing user pages, and WP:USERCAT is very clear that user categories should not be used as "bottom-of-the-page" notices. If a Wikipedian wishes to have such a notice, they may edit their user page and add the notice in some other way (such as by adding text or a userbox), rather than inappropriately creating a category grouping.
I am also astonished to see the comment by Tryptofish that the removal of redlinked usercats is vastly more disruptive than any supposed disruption of keeping humorous categories. As has been repeatedly explained, those redlinked usercats were higly disruptive, by creating permanent clutter in a cleanup listing, impeding encyclopedic maintenance. OTOH, their removal impeded no enyclopedic purpose ... and if editors want to maintain the humour, there are many ,any ways of adding humorous content to userpages which has no effect outside the userpage. That's the core issue here: don't cause your userpage to disrupt enyclopedic work. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 10:12, 31 March 2017 (UTC)
No, and this really is an important point. Page content is what our readers care about. The categories at the bottoms of pages serve a purpose, of course, but they are far from being what readers care about the most. It's helpful to have editors working on wanted categories – and I want to point out that I have consistently been supporting the effort to unclutter the redlink list, in order to facilitate that work. But that is far from being the most important thing. It's important to maintain good editor morale, because editors are who create the content that our readers care about. And a rude edit – and yes, it was rude – of an editor's user page is disruptive in that it diminishes enthusiasm for content creation. And losing potential content matters a lot more than losing a requested category. The "encyclopedic work" that is disrupted by user categories just isn't something to get self-righteous about. There are better ways than deleting categories from user pages to clear up the red links – and that, after all, is what this talk section has been about. That usercat rule is just a silly and self-serving rule added because so few editors pay attention to usercat rules. It should be removed, not revered. There is no harm to content, or to readers, if an editor keeps unserious categories on their user page, and this RfC seems to me to be sending that message. It's a message that the category police need to hear. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:05, 1 April 2017 (UTC)
I don't know who is intended to be labelled as "category police", but I note that it is a term which until now has been used only by the editors who described two days ago as "selfish extremists" -- i.e. those who are so insistent that that they must have redlinked categories on their userpages, that even if their page goes unedited and the redlink is turned blue, they will alter the spelling to create a new redlinked category. Some even go so far as do so with edit summaries which mimic the sounds made by a small child throwing a rebellious tantrum.
It also strikes me as being immature to use disparaging terminology such as "category police" to describe editors who are working to maintain the category system. It would be equally possible to use the same sort of terminology about editors who do all sorts of gnoming of articles and metadata, from correcting spelling to standardising navboxes, but that sort of hostile terminology simply poisons the atmosphere against collaboration and consensus-building. And editors engaged in category maintenance have been subjected to a sustained barrage of it.
The primary outstanding issue here is not the editing of user pages, because I found workarounds to avoid that. It is a small hardcore who object to any measure which removes their userpage from a cleanup list, even if their page is not edited. That is the group who I now call "selfish extremists", because they engage in an activity which they know to be disruptive.
Categories exist as one of the mechanisms which en.wp offers its readers for navigation between articles, and they are also used for analytical purposes. We could have an interesting discussion somewhere else about the importance or otherwise of categories, but for now, they exist, and they do have some navigational benefit for readers.
By contrast, the userpages of editors have absolutely zero direct benefit to readers. They are not linked from any content pages, and automatically tagged with "noindex" so that the public search engines skip them. Insofar as those userpages are of benefit to the user concerned, let alone to other editors, absolutely none of that benefit derives from single-member redlinked categories on a userpage. Whatever the name of that category, every single scrap of information or mood or commentary conveyed by its title can be conveyed just as effectively by plain text, userboxes, graphics, or by intricately formatted text. A trawl of userpages shows great creativity in using those mechanisms, and they are all uncontroversial -- because whatever any other editor thinks of them, they have zero impact outside of that page.
That's the crucial point here: the impact outside the users's own page. It's that outside impact which makes redlinked user categories a problem. And it is that alone which caused those userpages to be edited.
Tryptofish argues that it is important not to upset editors, and I agree up to a point. For me, that point occurs when editors object to a minor edit to their userpage which has the sole intent of avoiding disruption elsewhere. User pages are not, and never have been a wholly unrestricted zone. Sure, the guideline rightly gives editors a lot of what it calls "leeway" about how to use them. But it forbids their use for advertising or promotion, as webhost or blogs, but there is not and never has been a ban on other editors removing content which breaches those guidelines, and it also stops at the point where categories are used as decoration. Editors are of course free to object to anything; but when those limits are reached, they cannot legitimately claim to be treated rudely when another editor fixes the problem.
Note again, however, that edit[1] cited as an example of rudeness was to User:Floquenbeam. It was promptly reverted[2] by Floquenbeam, yet 9 months later the same Floquenbeam edited[3] the same page to add one red category, and turn another red. This was done in the full knowledge that it would clutter a cleanup list and impede the work of other editors. That was intentional disruption, done in the knowledge that other editors would have to clean it up.
The RFC on the boundaries of user categories is a separate issue, because it relates to the boundaries of acceptable user categories. There will always be some boundaries on usecats, and some categories to be removed.
Meanwhile, a small group of editors continues the intentional trolling and disruption. Here's a few examples:
  • Mjolnirapnts announes their intent to troll[4], and adds[5] a redlinked category
  • Roxy the dog cheers the intent to trol[6]
  • Only in death create an unparented user category of a type which has long been deprecated, using a childish edit summary[7] comments snicker [8] at my turning of one of these intentional redlinks blue, to remove it from the cleanup list at Special:WantedCategories.
There's more of this intentional disruption, and trolling. Do the editors concerned really think that this sort of conduct is a part of building an encyclopedia? --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 22:29, 1 April 2017 (UTC)
I'd say it's a lot more becoming than calling other editors "extremists", trying to argue that you're allowed to insult people because disagreeing with you is an obvious sign of editing in bad faith and then telling people that the editor who called you out on your bad behavior is a troll because he's shocked that you would behave so badly. I am dead serious, by the way. You are violating our civility policies left and right because you disagree with people, and at the rate things are going you're really looking at having your mop taken away and replaced with some sanctions. So by all means, keep it up. At this point, nothing would make me happier than to see you get treated the same way any editor with a dozen edits would get treated if they behaved the same way. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 00:54, 2 April 2017 (UTC)
MjolnirPants, I stand by comments about the small number of selfish extremists who have been intentionally trolling the ediors involved in category maintenance, and actively trying to disrupt their work. If you want to try having my mop taken away, you know where ANI is. But do watch out for WP:BOOMERANGs. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 21:21, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
If you stand by your comments that I'm trolling you (which would only take a dozen seconds of research to disprove, but whatever), then why haven't you done anything about it? I suspect the answer is because you know it's just a bullshit accusation. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 21:31, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
I'll leave it be for now because the underlying problem has largely been resolved. But if the trolling and intentional disruption resumes, I will review the options. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 22:19, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
LOL good luck with that. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 22:45, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
" userpages of editors have absolutely zero direct benefit to readers"
That's not correct. Without good editors content would rapidly deteriorate, and some good editors like user pages. People are different—some are happy working away without ever using a talk page, while others like to exchange views or banter, or display jokes. For many people, user pages help make the community which builds the content, and that definitely affects readers. Maintenance lists are important and they should not be bombed with junk, but there should be a technical solution which does not involve the need for editors to spend hours arguing. Cleaning up 30,0000 red-linked categories is sensational work—congratulations to all involved. However, the natural desire to keep going until the list is empty may not be helpful to the project. Johnuniq (talk) 01:00, 2 April 2017 (UTC)
@Johnuniq: I wrote "direct benefit". You are talking of indirect benefits, through keeping editors happy. Of course I want to keep editors happy, but are you really saying that these editors can't find another way of getting happiness from their userpages?
As to keeping going till the list is empty, that might be a bad idea if this was a one-off-backlog. The reality is that it is a never-ending deluge, which was backlogged. New redlinks appear at the rate of 100 per day, and these intentionally-created permanent redlinks clutter up the ongoing task of cleaning that up. I have been quite explicit here that I personally don't aim for zero, just for near-zero ... and that my outstanding objection is to the small group editors who repeatedly create new redlinks, in the full knowledge that it is disruptive, with a clear intent of trolling.
If you or someone else can come up with a way of excluding redlinked usercats from Special:WantedCategories, I'd be delighted; it would satisfy everyone. But I don't see any way of achieving that, so in the meantime, we have to work with the reality that these redlinks disrupt maintenance. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 20:47, 5 April 2017 (UTC)

─────────────────────────Well, anyway, I am sincerely glad that the red-linked list has been made more manageable, and that a container category has been implemented for the user page categories. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:48, 2 April 2017 (UTC)

Deletion issue

All this time spent debating could've been better spent on articles and helping our readers, A redlinked category on a few userpages/usertalkpages is really not worth wasting your time and life over. –Davey2010Talk 12:55, 4 April 2017 (UTC)
I share your concern about misspent time. But it's more than a matter of "debating". Some editors feel that it is misspent time to put such categories on one's user page. Others (and I'm firmly in this camp) feel that it is misspent time to go around trying to remove or delete such categories. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:19, 4 April 2017 (UTC)
@Davey2010: if redlinked user categories appeared only on user pages, they would be of little interest to anyone other than the users who placed them there.
The reason they have attracted attention is that they appear in cleanup lists, impeding the work of editors who do that cleanup. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 11:36, 12 April 2017 (UTC)
I guess there's many things of this site I still don't know, If it's affecting cleanup then I can understand the concerns but atleast to me it's better to just ignore then I mean if we were talking about 10 (or more) categories then I could understand but as far as I can see there's only 3 so to me wasting so much time over discussing it could be better spent helping the readers but that's just my view, Anyway thanks, –Davey2010Talk 13:15, 12 April 2017 (UTC)
@Davey2010: Before posting, did you read the post with which I started this section? The issues are explained there, and it's a pity that some people appear to have commented in this thread without checking the background.
Before the cleanup of redcats began there were hundreds of these red usercats, which seriously impeded the cleanup. It would still be easier if there were zero of them, but if you read the post with which I started this section, you'll see that I am not trying to get rid of them all; I'd just like to merge a few duplicates. That would make life easier for those doing cleanup, without doing any harm to those who want to keep the few remaining redcats. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 13:31, 12 April 2017 (UTC)


The introductions to Wikipedia:WikiProject and Category:WikiProjects seem to describe the type of collaborative social environment expressed above by those espousing red-linked categories.

Are there deficiencies with WikiProjects that require the use of red-linked categories?

Gjs238 (talk) 21:08, 4 April 2017 (UTC)

As I understand it, the WikiProject-related categories are about editors working together to improve content on Wikipedia, and as such, are different from the categories discussed above. But you are right to the extent that there is an element of social interaction in both cases. I don't see that as a deficiency in the WikiProjects. I see it as a deficiency in the idea that user categories need to be so narrowly defined and so aggressively regulated. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:25, 4 April 2017 (UTC)
Agree. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:56, 4 April 2017 (UTC)
I had understood that the users of red categories were doing so for collaborative purposes, hence my query regarding WikiProjects. What then are the justifications for red categories? Gjs238 (talk) 23:47, 13 April 2017 (UTC)
These arguably have the function of sifting the users with a certain sense of humour from those without. – Uanfala (talk) 23:52, 13 April 2017 (UTC)
I can attest from personal experience that I have, indeed checked what categories an editor placed themselves in (if any) to determine if they were being facetious or not after making a strange statement, and I have browsed such categories to find editors who have a sense of humor. But my experience probably doesn't count, because I'm a selfish, extremist troll according to BHG. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 00:48, 14 April 2017 (UTC)
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