How to Edit and Maintain wikiHow's Category Structure

Seven Parts:Why Categorization is ImportantWhat is the Category Structure?How We Approach Caring for wikiHow's Category StructureWho Changes the Category StructureHow You Can Help Maintain the Category StructureAsk on the Category Forum for Category Changes and CreationSteps for the Category Team

Creation and maintenance of the Category Structure is the role of the Category Team. The Team is a small and dedicated group of wikiHowians with administrator abilities. This article provides an explanation of the role of maintaining the Category Structure and the ways in which this is done. In addition, the article provides suggestions on how you can help keep wikiHow's categories in great shape.

Part 1
Why Categorization is Important

Categorization is one of the key methods to ensure the smooth running of wikiHow. Categorization helps to:

  • Provide a positive browsing experience. This means making the site easy to move around by ensuring that contributors can find articles they are seeking in a logical and convenient manner
  • Inspire new contributions of articles when motivated contributors discover a category in an area of their expertise
  • Identify over-supply and duplication of articles in particular topics
  • Keep everything placed onto the site in order

Part 2
What is the Category Structure?

The Category Structure consists of all the categories on wikiHow. Category Structure involves considerations of how child categories support each parent category, how categories sit together as a whole, how consistency across the site is maintained and how we create a smooth means for moving readers through the site seamlessly by means of cross-referencing categories and other tools.

  • Parent category: aka main category or general category - these are the categories that you see on wikiHow's front page.
  • Child category: aka sub-category or specific category - these are the varying levels of categories that cascade off the parent categories and off each other to deeper levels.

Constant refinement ensures that the categories are kept in shape, changed if they become outdated, ill-suited, or obsolete and to ensure that there is no avoidable duplication of categories across the site.

Part 3
How We Approach Caring for wikiHow's Category Structure

Maintenance of the Category Structure is done with a view to ensuring balance, consistency and integrity of the structure across the entire site. Much behind-the-scenes planning continues on a regular basis to ensure that the categories reflect the evident, ongoing needs of contributors, as well as some projected needs, in order to enhance readers' enjoyment and use of the site.

Part 4
Who Changes the Category Structure

Actual structural change to the categories system is the role of the Category Team.

Long ago, some time soon after wikiHow was born, it "came to being" that someone (Tom Viren) liked categorizing. And he got the job. Over time, this job expanded considerably and the job attracted some like-minded order-makers.

The need for maintaining overall category consistency and integrity, along with the fact that the drop-down menu box is an admin-only edit tool, resulted in this being an administrator's role (as well as being reserved for those who demonstrated an insane passion for organizing things constantly into nice little patterns).

The Category Team consists of:

Putting some order into this little ever-growing, and beloved how-to site, requires regular and ongoing refinement of the Category Structure, aided by enthusiastic contributors who notice what needs expanding and what needs fixing.

We have a number of methods in place to keep the Category Structure in order but much of it depends on the advice and help we receive from you. And we can always do with help if you are interested in shifting categories too.

Part 5
How You Can Help Maintain the Category Structure

Although categorization creation and maintenance is mostly the role of the Category Team, this extensive work cannot be done without the dedicated help from every single contributor on the site.

Categorizing Articles

Never underestimate the value of having all our articles categorized. You can find more information on how to do this here.

Cross-Referencing wikiHow's Categories

This very useful task can be performed by any contributor on the site experienced with linkages between the categories. Here is how:

  1. 1
    Choose the category.
  2. 2
    Note categories across the site that are relevant/related to this category.
  3. 3
    Add these cross-reference categories in the following format:

    • Related articles of interest can be found in [[:Category:Categorization|Categorization]].
  4. 4
    Keep an eye on updating category cross-referencing. Some categories are yet to be cross-referenced and others may be missing suitable cross-references. Any assistance in this area is always highly appreciated.

Requesting New Categories

Everybody is able and encouraged to suggest new categories on the Categories Forum. Each suggestion is a great help in working out what contributors want on wikiHow and analyzed with regard to the overall needs of the categories. Reasons for the decision are always left on the Forum page.

If you have suggestions for categories, please place your request on the Categories Forum. Help us by providing reasons for needing the new category(ies), along with a breakdown of the articles likely to go into the new category(ies). Things to consider when proposing categorization changes include:

  • A minimum of 5 or more related articles for the new category is required before the request will be considered
  • Existing categories and the separation between them and the candidate category
  • Overloading of existing categories
  • Obvious need for breakdowns of categories
  • Creation of an incentive or niche for new articles
  • Not spreading categories too thin - not creating them before the need is evident
  • Overall interaction of categories across the site.

Part 6
Ask on the Category Forum for Category Changes and Creation

We ask kindly that you do not try to create categories or shift them yourself. Although wiki format supports category creation on other wiki sites, we made a decision not to do this here in order to ensure overall integrity of our category structure and to reflect the reality that the drop-down menu can only be edited by those with administrator tools.

Leave your request on the Categories Forum about the need for new categories or changing to existing ones; doing this gives the Category Team the opportunity to assess the viability of the change with a view to the entire category structure and it also gives us time to file the change in the queue. We consider all requests and attempt to meet them as much as possible. In return, we ask that you consider the list in the previous section before making your request.

Part 7
Steps for the Category Team

Adding a Category

  1. 1
    Start the Category page for your new category by manually typing this URL into your browser: and Animals, where "Pets" is our new category.
  2. 2
    Add the basic standard description: "This is the category for Pets."
  3. 3
    Add an explanation if needed. For example: "This is the category for Pets. It is for articles relating to obtaining, caring for, and saying goodbye to our non-human family members."
  4. 4
    Cross-reference. This is a very important part of making the user experience a positive one. If you know of related categories, please add them:

    • Related articles of interest can be found in [[:Category:Wildlife|Wildlife]].
  5. 5
    Note that typically the new category will be a subcategory. Adding top level categories is something that only the Category Team is responsible for after much discussion and broad agreement.
  6. 6
    Add the parent category to the category page by inserting the text [[Category:Animals]]
  7. 7
    Verify that the parent category has been linked correctly. When you preview the new category page, the parent category link should appear blue at the bottom of the page, below the "Save Page" and "Preview" buttons.
  8. 8
    Add the new category to the drop down list. This is discussed next.

Removing a Category

This is used less often, but maintaining a good set of categories also requires removing categories that are wrongly made, outdated, obsolete etc.

  1. 1
    Move all of the articles out of the category to another category.
  2. 2
    Delete the category page
  3. 3
    Remove the category option from the drop-down list. See above for directions on the drop-down list.

Article Info

Categories: Articles Currently In Use | Categorization