Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dynamic Categorization System

For a long time, English Wikibooks has been using a system of manually-maintained lists to help keep books organized. Historically, when a new book is created, we needed to:
  1. Add a link to the book on {{New}}, and remove the last book from the list.
  2. Add a link to the book on the appropriate bookshelf (we have 26 different shelves)
  3. Add a link to the book on the bookshelf's template
  4. Add a link to the book on the alphabetical list
  5. Add a link to the book on the appropriate Dewey Decimal category page
  6. Add a link to the book on the appropriate Library of Congress page
  7. Apply any additional categories to your book to help keep it organized.
As anybody can readily see, new book authors are either inundated with work, or else they skip a few steps and then the books aren't properly listed. The net result is a series of lists, many of which are horribly outdated, none of which are complete. In short, the system was very unhelpful and disorganized.

A better system is on the horizon, however, and change is already happening. Dewey Decimal, Library of Congress, and alphabetical listing systems were changed from manually-updated lists to a category-based system. Luckily, since books are already listed by subject on the various bookshelves, bots have been successfully employed to apply the necessary categories to existing books. Applying these categories to new books is trivial.

A bug request has been submitted to create a new meta-organizational "Subject:" namespace. This namespace, along with a comprehensive category system and DPL will allow us to have all sorts of different listings: "Subject:Geometry books", "Subject:Books for Children", "Subject:Books using BE850", "Subject:Books that meet the California public school curricula", etc.

Once we have a more comprehensive organizational system, some people have even suggested that we could list books from other sites, such as Wikisource, or Simple.Wikibooks. That may be a little too progressive (and requiring of more manpower then we could muster), but it really shows where the Wikibooks organizational system is headed: up.

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