Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Organizers Needed

Wikibooks has tons of books (3000+ by some counts), but they're not all organized in a way that makes them easy to find. Last year we deprecated most of our old and unweildy organization methods: manual lists for things like alphabetical ordering, manually-maintained bookshelves, and dewey-decimal categorizations. We've switched over to a method of using categories and DPL lists to keep books organized in various ways.

The method is working very well, but is exposing some of the organizational problems that we have. Some of our books are miscategorized. Some parts of the category hierarchy are very messy or completely illogical.

We're looking for people with a good eye for consistency and a solid understanding of broad subject areas to help us organize a few places:

  1. Sciences. Our science hierarchy is completely messed up, and books throughout it are commonly miscategorized.
  2. Computing. The computing hierarchy is clearly one of those organizational systems that has grown organically in an unguided way over time. Some categories are very big, such as our generic "Programming" category. Computing books are the largest group in Wikibooks, and the one that needs the most attention
  3. Humanities. It's like a catch-all for the "soft sciences" books, and clearly isn't organized well.
  4. Miscellaneous. As it's name implies, it's like the de facto category for things that we just can't place otherwise. Most of the books in this category need to be moved to other places, and some new more-specific categories need to be created for these books

If you're interested in helping with some of these tasks, come on down to Wikibooks and take a look around. We'd be grateful for any help we could get.


  1. Well, I just fixed most of the categories of the language learning books just to learn that the implementation of dynamicpagelists is very limited (no alphabetic sorting of titles and limited number of notcategory's). Thus, I would think that the most important problem right now is not to fix the categorization of books but the design of the Subject pages. We shouldn't give up bookshelves until we have working Subject pages.

  2. I didn't list the Languages books as needing better organizing precisely because I know you've done so much good work there, Martin.

    If you find yourself needing to use too many "notcategory" directives, maybe you need to consider refactoring the entire setup. Instead of having books in {{subject|languages|pacific languages}}, for instance, only have them listed as {{subject|languages}}. This prevents duplication automatically, reduces the amount of text necessary on the book, and reduces the need to specify non-overlapping subsets.

  3. You have a good point there. But I think it is better to keep the more specific category, i.e. {{Subject|Pacific Languages}}. Thus, I guess I have to sleep about this and then I'll remove the category "Languages" from all books that have a more specific classification, i.e., all. That would also reduce the current overclassification.

    But the missing alphabetic sorting is still a problem.

  4. We do have {{Alphabetic}} which can be used to group books by the first character, although it's not a complete alphabetic sort. More work certainly needs to be done about this.

    Also, there are some CSS classes floating around that use client-side javascript to sort lists such as DPL lists. I can't seem to find them right now, but I know there is something like this somewhere.

  5. I realized that removing the Category:Languages is probably not such a good idea because then the featured books list on Subject:Languages couldn't be generated automatically (at least I wouldn't know how). :-/

  6. The client-side javascript to sort lists such as DPL lists was mentioned here:
    But I seem to be unable to use it and I don't know how to use gadgets either.