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Forums: Index > Help desk > Getting familiar with the county-related categories and their new templates


The initial paragraphs of what follows are copied from some very insightful feedback I've just received (after inviting TreeGenea3 to see how one could get more info on a page by TYPING LESS). Setting out the feedback here, with added headings and my responses and anything anyone else can add, may greatly help other users who like to get around the wiki and create links as quickly as practicable (the reason why several of us have been working on templates). It's great to see that new users are creating categories to help themselves and others link things. We older hands want to continue making the process easy. Robin Patterson 09:23, 26 October 2008 (UTC)


Hi Robin,

New templates could be great for navigating to useful information[]

As you mentioned, the county templates and codes you are referring to are relatively new. With time, I'm sure I'll become a fan of using the same templates you and others use. I'm just looking for a simple way to navigate around this wiki and perhaps to help others find their way to the wealth of information stored here. TreeGenea3 07:48, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Right; the new templates like Template:b-us are a month old or less. We haven't publicised them because there's not a complete set of even the vital statistics yet. Keen followers of the Watercooler would have seen at least one heading on the subject and might have found the templates independently (despite the technical language you mention below). I think you're the only person (apart from us template-builders) who has done anything in the last few weeks that could have been quicker if you had known it had a template. Robin Patterson 10:10, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Making more use of categories, creating parent categories[]

You may have noticed, I'm using the "Categories" more and more at the bottom of each new article I create. It's kind of nice when more than half of them come up in blue. If it's in red, most of the time I'll just leave it alone. Every once in a while, however, I'll get the urge to create or "open" that category so that other users can see the names associated with that page and maybe add to it. The only catch is that you have to put something in the text box, or it won't create the new page. I'll put in whatever you prefer. TreeGenea3 07:48, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Very good that you are using those categories. So easy if you start with our standard person page following the "Create a page" link. If you are putting anything in the text box of a "red link" category, a parent category or two is ideal. For most cases, that's where those new templates can make the job really quick: if it's "Category:Born in Exe County, Ohio", you type {{b-us||}} (or {{born in US||}} if you can't remember the abbreviated version!) then from the page name drag Exe County into the slot after the first pipe and Ohio into the next slot, and Save. Robin Patterson 11:16, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
PS, there is now a matching Template:d-us for "Died in US", and we have had Template:m-us and Template:r-us for a few weeks. Robin Patterson 05:43, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

Good and bad points of county navboxes[]

I like the way you have the navboxes set up for each county. It's easy to get to each category from there. I don't mind using the templates, but is there a way to put the navbox below the list of names? It seems to me that the main purpose of the category pages is to show the list of names associated with that county. Besides, we've already seen the navbox since we were probably just at the county page. TreeGenea3 07:48, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Sorry: I agree in part with your assessments, but text on a category page has to show above the subcategories/articles/media. You can hide most lines of the navbox by clicking the Hide link at top right; I think the box has value on that pivotal page even if you have seen 37 other versions of it. We could cut out the bold "restatement" of what the category is about, to save a line or two. We could cut out the bit about possible subcategories. But the link to Wikipedia is often useful. And the paragraph urging people to use the main article is essential, otherwise people will write on the category page and take up far more space than you would gain by cutting that sentence out: see the first version of Category:Died in Conecuh County, Alabama for a perfect illustration. Robin Patterson 11:39, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Putting individuals in state categories, direct[]

I've shifted from using "Category:Born in [name of county], [name of state]" to simply "Category: Born in [name of state]." Those categories are populated with more links to other people from that state. It's nice to have some company instead of there being only one or two names listed on the county level. TreeGenea3 07:48, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Shortsighted, I suggest. When your people and several hundred others are in the state cat, one of your relatives (who has no doubt which county is the right one) may come looking, see the county subcat, go for it, not find your people or you, and go away possibly not even seeing the individual page listings and/or assuming (wrongly but logically) that the pages and pages of individuals in the state cat were there because their county was unknown. With an average of over 60 counties per state, those state pages may get big fast. And if a researcher's people were definitely only in Erie he or she is not certain to want to stagger through hundreds of people who might be all from Philly or Pittsburgh. Robin Patterson 12:00, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Link from a state article to its counties and maybe even to its individuals' pages[]

By the way, what is the best way for a visitor to navigate from a state article to the people listed in its categories? On a few state article pages (and I see you've already discovered this), I've added a line "See also..." and then the link to "List of Counties in the state of [whatever]." (See http://genealogy.wikia.com/index.php?title=Ohio&action=history and go back one revision). Some of them were already messed up before I got there :-) This may not be how you want it done. I don't intend to create more work for you, but let us know if there is a better way. Anyway, I'd like to see more information related to genealogy on the state pages instead of just a copy of what's already on wikipedia. TreeGenea3 07:48, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Ten out of ten for the placement of the link to "List of counties in [state name]" - right at the top of the Geography section. But only 5/10 for the format; I guess you hadn't bothered to look up its exact name; probably as I've shown it above for at least 47 U.S. states, and only one word different in Alaska and Louisiana. And that must be the best way to start to get to the individuals if all you know is their county. If you don't know the county, I suggest a search: "McGonagall died California 1927". On the subject of genealogical info on state pages, please see Forum:Model state pages. And I'm inclined to ditch the 21st-century demographics and sports teams and detailed weather. Robin Patterson 12:20, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Technical language in forums can be a bit over readers' heads[]

Some of the technical discussions in the forum and water-cooler pages goes a bit over my head. For instance, I would not have known to use the template: r-us|Kansas for that particular application. For me, it takes doing things a few times, then adapting as necessary. TreeGenea3 07:48, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Technical matters should be over many readers' heads (and are sometimes over mine) when tricky details are being worked out. But the resulting final version of something ready to use should be in language that over 90% of readers can understand at first or second reading. Tell us when it's not! Now that you have seen examples (e.g. Exe County, a few paragraphs above) and a link to the almost final list, try a couple and see if you can clarify the instructions where not clear enough. Robin Patterson 12:33, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
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