Forums: Index > Watercooler > Settlements and establishments

This subject was briefly raised by User:Afil in June 2011. Getting no response, he made some edits along the lines suggested. I became a little concerned at some of it, particularly the merging of "Settled in..." with "Established in ...". Extracts from our correspondence are included below. The subject deserves comment from all other contributors who do more here than create pages for their own relatives. -- Robin Patterson (Talk) 06:19, August 10, 2011 (UTC)

Earlier forum mentions[]

  1. Forum:Settlements established in 1626 etc
  2. There is a confusion in the categories regarding settlements and a consensus should be reached on when or if the categories should be "settled in" or "established in" or "settlements established in" etc. I am willing to accept any solution but if there are no guidelines, then the categories used will be inconsistent. ... Afil 01:27, June 27, 2011 (UTC)

Subsequent conversation (extracts, with headings added)[]


Dear Andrei,

Difference between "Settled" and "Established"[]

I'm a bit concerned, and I think others may be, about some of your recent changes blurring or even eliminating the difference between "Settled" and "Established" for places. Blanking or redirecting many of the "Settled in ..." categories, for example, such as I believe that the "Settled in" categories have value for genealogists quite separately from any of the formal procedures that are probably described as "Established". .....


If you were strictly following Wikipedia, that could all be fine, although we might sometimes disagree with changes being made on Wikipedia if they move away from what is of interest to family historians. ..... There may be a case for going along with category changes Wikipedia undergoes, but:

  1. Such changes should probably be discussed in a forum or suitable "talk" pages.
  2. Often the Commons: category makes more sense.
  3. Most such changes should be done by bots instead of individual edits, for major time-saving.


Kind regards. -- Robin Patterson (Talk) 06:14, August 9, 2011 (UTC)


Dear Mr. Patterson,

I do not want to upset anybody nor to change the rules of Wikia and if I did something wrong, I strongly apologize.

The "wanted categories"[]

What I am attempting to do is to put some order into the Categories of Wikia. You may have noticed that there is a long list of Wanted categories which includes the categories which have no links. Until now I have been able to eliminate all the wanted categories which were linked to more than two articles (except for the ones which have appeared in the last days) and the number of wanted categories linked to two articles has diminished to under 200. It is not a very amusing exercise, but somebody has to do it.

Wikimedia origins[]

What I have found out is that there are conflicting ways in which the categories system is used. Many of them are due to changes from Wikipedia; others are due to different ways in which Wikipedia and Wikicommons use the categories. I am not a fan of Wikipedia and consider that most of the changes made in Wikia are beneficial. I definitely consider that "Counties of Idaho" is better than the Wikipedia "Idaho Counties". Unfortunately, many of the categories have been transferred from Wikipedia without implementing the changes to the Wikia system, which I am attempting to do.

Settled v. Established[]

In the case you are raising, the basic issue is that the Wikipedia categories such as "settlements established in ..." has been changed in Wikia, sometimes to "settled in ..." sometimes to "established in... ". While both categories coexist, established is used more frequently. As the category applies not only to localities, but to "organizations, places and other things founded or established in ..." (I did not invent this definition), established seem more comprehensive. We can say that Canada was established in 1867, but hardly that Canada was settled in 1867. For this reason I preferred to use established.

I agree that settled is not identical with established, though established could also include settled. I have nothing against using both categories, but a rule would be necessary to indicate, where and when each should be used. At present this is confusing. I agree with your example (even if in the settlements template there are the categories est1, est2, est3 etc. included). I could come up with another example Sitka, Alaska where the article says: "The area was originally settled by the native Tlingit (Kolosh) Indians. Old Sitka was founded in 1799 by Alexandr Baranov". The article had the category "Settled in 1799", which basically contradicts the statements of the article. This is just to show that there is a confusion in how the categories are to be used.

Category redirect[]

Generally, when I replace a wikipedia category with a wikia category, I leave a categoryredirect statement. I found them in Wikia but I found them useful, especially as other contributors might not be aware of the differences and it is a simple way to indicate what they should to. In any case it is easier than to have pages of instructions on what is required.


Until the matter is settled - I have no preference, as long as a consistent solution is adopted - I will refrain from changing the "settled in" categories and will not make any more categoryredirect statements for these categories.

I hope that this takes care of your concerns.


Andrei Filotti Afil 21:22, August 9, 2011 (UTC)

Wanted categories and Wikimedia sites[]

Andrei rightly points out that there are over a thousand WantedCategories and that a large number arise from the copying of pages from Wikipedia.

However, I don't see that as a problem by itself, and I don't see that "someone has to" reduce the numbers.

Reducing the numbers is of value where it improves the usability of the site. One of the easy ways of doing it is to copy the Wikipedia category in its entirety (as I and others have done for hundreds of them). Sometimes that will add other wanted categories, but ultimately, further up the chains, all of the parent categories will be either established Wikia categories or categories that match ours and can be covered with {{Category redirect}}.

The differences between Wikipedia and Commons have been mentioned. I've said that Commons often has more sensible category names. Where there's a difference we can set up a discussion to reach a consensus. See also Forum:Competing cat structures commons vs wp for some background.

If in doubt, create the category as an uncategorized category and add {{Seewp}} to it (maybe after a look at Template talk:Seewp), thus getting it off the wanted list and open to yourself or other contributors to work on later while it does its job of linking pages that may have it as a parent.

We are a little hindered by a recent Wikia decision to show wanted categories in blue instead of red. They do it even when there's actually nothing in the category, when you are creating links to what you hope are suitable categories and want a quick visual indication of which ones have been used before. Grr. Careful use of "autocomplete" helps to check what exists.

-- Robin Patterson (Talk) 05:02, August 10, 2011 (UTC)

Postscript to that last point - non-existent categories now appear red in the preview, which is a good guide if you remember to look at it then and memorise them. -- Robin Patterson (Talk) 03:29, September 30, 2015 (UTC)


I think WP used to have categories for "Settlements in ..." but has now changed them to "Populated places in ...". Unnecessary verbiage, in my opinion. In a genealogy wiki, as distinct from a general-purpose encyclopedia, there's no apparent ambiguity in the term "settlement", and we use it to cover all sizes of settlement, from a farm to a megalopolis. Most of the latter started life as a couple of the former! Anyone who wants to follow WP's change should mention it here and explain how his or her bot intends to go about it.

"Settlement" as a process, with its participle "settled", is the taking up of residence. Genealogists are interested in where someone was born or lived, irrespective of whether the locality had any formal recognition at the time.

A locality can easily have two or more settlement dates and hence categories, for waves of migration. No problem. Work it out from the article text, and ignore what WP may say if it's not covering actual settlement. Sitka, Alaska, one of Andrei's examples, can stick with its "Settled in 1799" for now and can get an earlier century or millennium category in addition when someone can pin down the Indians' arrival.

-- Robin Patterson (Talk) 06:19, August 10, 2011 (UTC)


"Establishment" is loosely defined in some of WP's categories (as Andrei said, "organizations, places and other things founded or established in ...") but not near the top level; indeed just above the top of the "establishments" tree the parent Wikipedia:category:Debuts is tagged with "This category has no description. A description should be included to help summarize the purpose of this category." - a tag that could just as well be applied further down the tree.

The genealogical interest in the formal sort of establishment is about whether there was a courthouse or village hall or church, etc, in which there might have been records of births, marriages, deaths, etc. Valuable information, deserving of a category until SMW can obviate that. Not to be confused with settlement categories even where they happened in the same year.

-- Robin Patterson (Talk) 06:19, August 10, 2011 (UTC)

Established and settled[]

In Wikia following solutions seem to have been agreed on:

  • Settlement is preferred over other words such as populated places, establishment, locality or any other.
  • The categories have been simplified. Instead of using the wikipedia: Populated places established in ... the solution accepted was just: Established in.... or Settled in .... eliminating completely the Populated places (or other definition of the unit which has been established).

I have no problem with these decisions and have complied with them in all my contributions.

There is a single problem which I am uncomfortable with. At present we have two categories: Established in .... and Settled in .... I simply consider that it would be advisable to define when each of these categories should be applied. Afil 17:29, August 11, 2011 (UTC)

My answer to that was written in the corresponding paragraphs above. Summarizing (and responding to another of Andrei's recent points):
Any place page can be in a "Settled in ..." category or more than one - none of them probably corresponding to Wikipedia categories, because the arrival of a few residents is not "notable" in Wikipedia.
Any place page can be in an "Established in ..." category - probably a Wikipedia category, but I believe there is value in maintaining Wikipedia subcategories so as not to mix places, institutions, etc. I'm not sure whether I would bother changing "Populated places established in ...", but we should use a bot if there are lots of those and we want to change either them or "Settlements established in ..." to merge the two - maybe that sub-subject needs a new forum!
-- Robin Patterson (Talk) 03:00, August 12, 2011 (UTC)

Wanted categories and templates[]

I am slightly confused about Robin's comments about the wanted list. I interpret the wanted lists as a list of categories, templates, photos, pages, properties which Wikia considers missing and required and an indication for contributors to add the information which is wanted. Why would these items be wanted if adding them would not improve the usability of the system? If they are wanted, does that not mean that whoever is in charge of Wikia expects somebody to take care of the problem? And if I am attempting to take care of some of the items on the wanted lists, is this really a futile exercise? If they are wanted, why don't you want them? Afil 17:41, August 11, 2011 (UTC)

Special:WantedCategories is not a Wikia invention. It is an automatically-generated list (common to all MediaWiki sites, I think) of all categories that have been "tagged" on pages that are intended to be in them. We can decide whether we actually want them. I agree with some of Andrei's recent deletions from pages, especially the detailed image-related categories from Commons:, but I'm not keen on some of his deletions.
I never suggested that I don't want the "wanted" categories; I said:
I don't see that "someone has to" reduce the numbers.
Reducing the numbers is of value where it improves the usability of the site.
Familypedia will, in my opinion, not be helped by the creation of a category such as "Images of apples", but will be helped (until SMW manages to improve on things) by the creation of a category such as "Artists".
-- Robin Patterson (Talk) 03:00, August 12, 2011 (UTC)


I recently noticed an edit to the page for one of the oldest U.S. counties. Out of idle interest I checked its history. I am a little concerned that the categorization is moving further away from Wikipedia and even eliminating some of the WP category concepts.

Middlesex County, Massachusetts was formally established in 1643. In 1997 it was disestablished as a government entity because of insolvency but it remains a geographical unit, which is our main interest.

Its Wikipedia page puts it in these relevant categories:

  • 1643 establishments in Massachusetts
  • Populated places established in 1643

On the first one, FP policy is to use the word "established" instead of "establishments" (in the same way as we use "born in 1643" instead of "1643 births").

On the second one, FP policy is to use (or retain!) "Settlements" instead of "Populated places". (A side issue could be that a county, unlike a village, is not intrinsically either of those - it is a defined area of land, no matter how many people live there, even if nobody has ever lived there.)

Our page has, for a bit over a year, had the following relevant categories:

  • 1643 establishments in Massachusetts
  • Settlements established in 1643

The edit that drew my attention earlier today leaves it with just this:

  • Established in 1643

No sign of Massachusetts nor even the country - so someone checking state history will have to wade through a worldwide list of 1643 happenings.

No mention of the fact that it was a settlement - so it will be mixed with establishments of churches, businesses, and maybe even sports teams established in 1643 (well - sports teams probably only in corresponding categories for later centuries!).

Nothing in the above paragraphs of this forum suggests that we had any kind of agreement to merge concepts so drastically. The page history, with more than one "update from Wikipedia", suggests that Wikipedia had no "establishment" categories for that county until relatively recently; but now that it has it should be considered here. I have now added a category to that county page, basing it on the first-listed WP category. It is "Established in Massachusetts in 1643". Andrei may be pleased to note that I am willing to get it off his wanted list by giving it parent categories based on Wikipedia (which gives the corresponding category the following parent categories: 1640s establishments in Massachusetts; Establishments in Massachusetts by year; 1643 in Massachusetts; 1643 establishments in the Thirteen Colonies). However, some of you prolific contributors may disagree with the idea of having such a specific category, preferring the simple catch-all Category:Established in 1643. The less deletionist idea for change could be that it should have the year before the place, i.e. "Established in 1643 in Massachusetts", more closely matching the WP category.

Comments, please! -- Robin Patterson (Talk) 03:29, September 30, 2015 (UTC)