jofwu

Category Discussion

8 posts in this topic

Not sure where we landed last week after the Discord conversation on categories, other than that Chaos wants to sit down and think through everything eventually. But I wanted to put a few thoughts/opinions of mine out there. They might be based on misunderstanding of the category system, so if that's the case just tell me why I'm wrong or ignore me. But anyways...

I think there were 3 high level content categories involved in the discussion we had: Characters, Lifeforms, and Magic. The main controversial subcategory we discussed was Magical entities, though it went beyond that. Anyways, I would propose the following three subcategories:

Magic users: a character who actively uses magic.

This is a subcategory of Character. I say "actively uses" to rule out cases with innate Investiture and Nalthian Breath. Innate Investiture is too mundane to make you a "magic user", and I think those with Breath shouldn't be counted unless they're performing Awakening or using Heightening perks (i.e. collecting Breaths). This does generally include individual Aimians and Listeners, I think, as they're making active use of their magical nature. But their species would not be a subcategory in the same way that Allomancers is a subcategory of Magic users.

Magical lifeforms: a living (biological) non-character or species which uses magic or exists because of magic

This is a subcategory of Lifeforms. I mean "living" in a biological/scientific sense. It includes any non-character plants or animals which use magic (Ryshadium, chasmfiends, aviar) as well as whole species whose biology involves magic (Koloss, Kandra, Returned, both Aimian types...)

Magical entities: a non-living (i.e. non-biological) entity or type of entity (character or otherwise) which uses magic or exists because of magic

This is a subcategory of Magic. I mean "non-living" in a biological/scientific sense. It can include characters (Syl) as well as non-characters (like a skeltal). This is where you'll find Splinters and other truely magical phenomena. Note that the Lifeless would also fit in this category- while they are made of humans, they are very much non-living.

A few other random thoughts:

  • We could probably use a Cognitive shadows category. Probably best to make it a subcategory of Cosmere, because they could arguably belong to any of the three categories above.
  • Probably could also use a Hemalurgic constructs category? Also in Cosmere? Or my Magical lifeforms category.
  • I noticed a lot of "magic systems" are included in both Magic and Magic systems, which seems redundant.
  • Aren't Greatshells and Ryshadium oddly specific categories to be placed directly under Lifeforms?
  • I haven't made it out of the cosmere yet, but I THINK these ideas would work with other universes.
Edited by jofwu
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I did not participate in the group chat discussion, but my impression from the post is that the main thing you want to do is separate the current magical entities into two categories, one of biologically living things and the other of biologically non-living things, and adding some pages to each one. The magic user category discussed does not seem any different from the one that already exists. 

I don't necessarily agree with this split. The definition of magical life forms seems too broad to me. The entire ecology of Roshar has evolved around Stormlight, which is magic, so would all of Roshar's plants and animals be put in that category? 

I do not believe the current categorization of these things are an issue yet, especially when there are much larger categorization problems, such as the total lack of consistency about it and when an image should be put in a content category. 

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How would you distinguish your definition of Magical entities (non-living entities that use magic or exist because of magic) from non-living magical things like fabrials and god metals? I'm fine with those things being under Magical entities, but I can see why some would object.

The difference between "magical life" and "non magical life" in the cosmere is blurrier than most other fantasy universes in that, as @thegatorgirl00 pointed out, there is an intimate relationship between Investiture and the creation and evolution of biological species. Given that all fictional lifeforms in Brandon's books are quite "fantastic" (as in, something magizoologists would be interested in) one way or the other, I think it's more useful to create much smaller Lifeforms subcategories like "Spren-bonded lifeforms" or "Hemalurgic constructs" (or even planet-based subcategories, though apparently @Chaos and I differ on what those would be for).

Edited by skaa
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I don't have time to do a full pass on these comments right now (I am insanely tired), but a few things:

1. Magic systems are labeled in both Magic and Magic Systems for the same reason that everything should be marked with a high level content category. You always tag something with the high level category, then lower levels with them. It is not redundant because categories are allowed to be redundant; they are not folders. So what we do is have a high level tag to promote consistency within types of content (as in, Locations, Characters, etc. should have certain standards and having them in these categories makes sure you can check that), then we go down the line. 

2. The magic user category should not be used for individuals, generally. You don't want every Allomancer and every Radiant in that category, as you'd categorize Kaladin as a Radiant but not a magic user. In other words Magic users is a holding category. 

3. The dividing line of magic and biology is hard so I am resistant to categorizing these things as such. 

4. We can add planet subdivisions for the Lifeforms categories. What this means is that it would act like Characters and Locations. For example, a character gets marked in Characters, but also Scadrian/Rosharan/Nalthian/whatever. Locations get the Location category and in addition get the Scadrial/Roshar/Nalthis/whatever categories. Thus in this case what would happen is that in addition to the Lifeform category and separate to the matter with Magical entities, we can have subsets of Lifeforms like "Rosharan lifeforms", "Scadrian lifeforms", etc. This would be an additional layer of categorization for the Lifeforms content. It is not a replacement for anything. It is independent of discussing magical entities. 

The issue with Magical entities actually lies in how the Magic tag is applied. The reason the Magical entities category exist is because things there are related to both Magic and Lifeforms. Since these high level categories are generally mutually exclusive, Magical entities is there to include the intersection of Magic and Lifeforms, so that these articles are not double counted. Any solution must have every article there with a high level category, and so really the true problem is in how the Magic tag is applied. I'm going to think about it. Please do not touch these things. I will get to it but it will take me a long time. I am extremely busy. 

Reserve categorizing things with Category:Cosmere for things that are central to the connected universe. Hemalurgic constructs, in my opinion, should not go there (yet), but Cognitive shadows should. 

This is all very complicated and I will need probably two solid days of work to piece through it in some fashion. I do think depreciating Magical entities in some fashion will be problematic, but I can't exactly say until I go through the gory details. 

Gatorgirl I will respond to your PM sometime, I agree the image situation is crap. 

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@Chaos, before anything else I wanted to mention that I don't plan on changing anything here. Well, nothing drastic anyways. I just wanted to share my own thoughts and see if anyone else wanted to share theirs. I like the chatroom a lot, but it's not good for referring back to. So anyways, no worries in this regard.

@thegatorgirl00, the conversation started around a question about Listeners. We were divided on whether Listeners should be categorized as Magical entities or not. On one hand they've got a close relationship with magic. On the other hand so do Surgebinders and other people that weren't categorized that way, and them being non-human doesn't seem a good reason for them to be different. This brings up a whole conversation about how that subcategory should be used, whether we need more options, etc.

This is not to say there aren't other (perhaps more pressing) category issues.

8 hours ago, skaa said:

How would you distinguish your definition of Magical entities (non-living entities that use magic or exist because of magic) from non-living magical things like fabrials and god metals?

Perhaps there's a better word I could have used above... In the context of my first post, "living/non-living" always refers to biology. Magical lifeforms are alive in a scientific sense. They are primarily physical beings which fit a basic definition for biological life. Magical entities are not alive in a scientific sense, but they are still alive in that they can perhaps move around, have independent thought (either low level or highly sentient), etc. Spren, for example, are not alive in a biological sense, but they're definitely "entities" and not just items. The sort of non-living things you describe (like fabrials) can either be categories of Magic directly, or you could introduce more categories like Magical items/objects/tools and so on.

I think those are pretty detailed, descriptive definitions and I've tried to explain them thoroughly for the sake of clarity. But a personally feel that they are very intuitive as to not need lots of debate except on specific gray area issues.

7 hours ago, Chaos said:

1. Magic systems are labeled in both Magic and Magic Systems for the same reason that everything should be marked with a high level content category.

Sorry for the confusion--I was referring to subcategories specifically, but I must have been staring at it for too long because the only offender is the Forgery category. It's a subcategory of both Magic and Magic systems. Since it's apparently the only one like this I just did a quick fix.

7 hours ago, Chaos said:

2. The magic user category should not be used for individuals, generally.

Right, and my suggestion for Magic users didn't really change much, if anything. When I say above that articles fit under this or that category, I didn't mean to suggest that they should necessarily be directly under that category (rather than in some further subcategory).

7 hours ago, Chaos said:

4. We can add planet subdivisions for the Lifeforms categories.

I agree with Chaos's take on this @skaa. It doesn't make sense to me to put location-based subcategories under the Lifeforms categories. This way you DO get the functionality of sorting lifeforms by where they're from. Axehounds would be categorized as Lifeforms, Roshar, and Stormlight Archive. You seem to be proposing something that would give Lifeforms, Rosharan Lifeforms, and Stormlight Archive. Seems better to just put them under the Roshar category, with everything else Rosharan. It would be one thing if the planet had some kind of further meaning/implication beyond location, but in general I don't think it does.

7 hours ago, Chaos said:

Since these high level categories are generally mutually exclusive, Magical entities is there to include the intersection of Magic and Lifeforms, so that these articles are not double counted.

This is what I'm trying to solve with these suggestions, I suppose. What I'm proposing draws a clear line between those two HLCCs, essentially be clarifying that Lifeforms is something more biological. You noted that the line between biology and magic is blurry, and while I don't deny there are some tricky cases I think that it's generally very clear.

The Lifeforms category almost exclusively contains plants and animals at the moment. The only thing it contains that I disagree with is the specific spren type articles (e.g. Cryptic, Honorspren, etc.), which I think should be in Magic just like the overarching Spren article.

There are a few Magic articles that I think should be moved to Lifeforms: Kandra, Koloss, Steel Inquisitor, Returned. Note that I believe this allows us to get rid of the rarely used {{sapient}} infobox. The point is that these are basically entirely distinct lifeforms and not merely "something that a lifeform is" (which is the case with other Magic articles like Drab, Metalborn, etc.) Steel Inquisitor and Returned are the more gray cases... But I think there's a clear case to be made that they are fundamentally different than other humans at a very deep level.

The subcategories I propose above would then fill in the gap of what the current Magical entities is supposed to do. Got something categorized in Lifeform which is very involved with magic? It's a Magical lifeform. Got some Magic thing which shows signs of thought and autonomy? It's a Magical entity.

That's how I see things anyways. Take it or leave it. Or take some of it and leave the rest. ;)

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Quick thing: you misinterpreted me on the Rosharan lifeforms thing. I am indeed suggesting we do that addition and have a Rosharan lifeforms, Scadrian lifeforms categories. Skaa misinterpreted what I meant by this and was suggesting a similar thing, but his comments suggest he was referring to a different application than mine. I am suggesting that at this time it is useful to have dedicated categories on these, mimicking what we do in Characters and Locations. In theory I am not opposed to doing this for every high level category, but there would need to be sufficient need. There's so many Rosharan lifeforms that having a list like that is useful.

We should actually NOT do it as you suggest. The Roshar category is a special category that is defined as locations on Roshar. Nothing from any other content category should be there other than Locations. Otherwise there is no distinction with Category:Roshar and Category:Stormlight Archive.

Considering how confused everyone seems to be about these planet subsets I'll just create these myself and so we never worry about it again.

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I see what you mean, definitely didn't think that through. That makes sense. In any case, I'm definitely not touching that. :)

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2 hours ago, Chaos said:

Considering how confused everyone seems to be about these planet subsets I'll just create these myself and so we never worry about it again.

don't worry, I understand what you mean :ph34r:B)

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