Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Humanities Books Organized

I've undertaken a personal mission to fix the categorization system at Wikibooks. Last week I went through and recategorized all the Fine Arts books. Today, I've just finished going through the list of Humanities books. I had to create a number of new subject pages to hold the various books, although there are probably more that I could have created. I tried to weigh our need for precision against the number of books we had in various categories. The more books we had on a given subject, the more deeply I would subcategorize things.

Anybody who knows a thing or two about the Fine Arts or the Humanities subjects should go through and double-check my work. Also, anybody who is more aesthetically-minded then me could go through and make these pages look more pretty. If somebody wants to join in my organization crusade, I would love the help!

I don't know what subject area I will tackle next. I was thinking about doing Social Sciences, but I might also like to look at Mathematics. I was also thinking about moving the various Medicine and health related books out of the "Science/Life Science" subcategory into a top-level "Health and Wellness" category. I'd like feedback on that idea too.


  1. I don't want to critizise your work but rather ask where we want to go with Subject pages. Should we or should we not make sure that featured books and books with PDF versions etc. appear on the higher levels of the Subjects hierarchy? One of the advantages of the bookshelves is that it is easy to find featured books.

  2. Great question! The subject pages do make it easier to find featured books. To see the complete list, go to the [[Subject:Featured Books]] page. This puts all the featured books at the very top of the hierarchy, and keeps them all together regardless of their subject matter.

    In addition, on almost all subject pages there is a section on the right of the page that contains "Featured Books" in that particular subject. [[Subject:Engineering]] is very good in this regard, you can see on the right-hand side of the page that there are two featured books in that category.

    I don't necessarily think that we need to artificially move featured books up in the hierarchy, they already have a dedicated place at the top anyway. Instead, I think we should be diligent about making sure our books are categorized as precisely as it makes sense to do. A book about "Electrical Engineering" shouldn't listed in "Engineering" too, that's redundant.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that we have a series of {{Goodbook}} templates, which serve as mini-advertisements for our featured books, and we can plaster these anywhere we want them (including on various subject pages). In fact, this is their intended use!

  3. Hm, on Subject:Engineering I see only Control Systems as Featured Book, not Engineering Acoustics. I'm not sure what the problem is, but my question would be: should the book Engineering Acoustics have both the subjects Engineering and the subtopic Mechanical Engineering (in order to appear as featured book on Subject:Engineering)? (It currently does, isn't this in contradiction to the intention of reducing overclassification?)

  4. The Engineering Acoustics book does appear, and is listed as a featured book, on the "Mechanical Engineering" page. Control Systems is not part of any particular engineering discipline, so it lives in the "Engineering" category (and is listed as a featured book there). If you go to [[Subject:Featured Engineering Books]], you will see both books listed. If you go to [[Subject:Featured books]] you will see all the featured books listed too.

    The "Engineering Acoustics" book should not be in both category "Mechanical Engineering" and "Engineering". The one, which is more specific, implies the other. It would be like describing me as both a "man" and a "human", the first is more descriptive and implies the latter.

    When we organize books we want to be as specific as possible and also reduce overlap. If we list every engineering book in the category "Engineering", that category will become large and bloated, and the value of it as a navigational tool will be diminished. Breaking things into subcategories helps to keep lists of books short, and helps to make sure books are findable. I can click "All Subject"s > "Engineering" > "Mechanical Engineering" and the book appears right there in a very short list.