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moving discussion from Category talk:Learning Concepts
I like the idea of Learning Concepts being different from other Themes; the same sketch can fit into a category of each kind. (For instance, I recall a disco song about "in" and "out" performed by an Anything Muppet band. Disco would be its Theme, but Opposites would be the Learning Concept that the sketch was meant to teach.

Speaking of Learning Concepts...does anyone else think that "Signs" (as in common words found on signs) is a useful category to add? There are plenty of Muppet sketches and songs (at least on Sesame Street) which teach that kind of lesson. (Lefty selling the STOP sign to Ernie, How Now Brown and the Moo Wave singing "Danger's No Stranger", and Grover becoming confused by a revolving ONE WAY sign come to mind...) --Ingeborg 05:44, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

"Learning Concepts" is dead, long live Themes. We moved all of the Learning Concepts over to Themes in December, so Opposites, Shapes and Colors are all in this category now. If you can find that "In and Out" song, then feel free to categorize it in Opposites.
What do folks think about a new "Signs" category? I would be okay with it; there are quite a few songs about Signs, and an album. However, Ingeborg, you should note that we don't usually have articles on specific sketches starring regular characters. So we've got Lefty selling the STOP sign on Lefty the Salesman, and Grover with the ONE WAY sign on Grover Sketches: Miscellaneous. Those wouldn't be appropriate for the Signs category. -- Danny (talk) 11:11, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
That's what I get for not keeping up-to-date with the talk pages...*blush* I can understand why sketches on a general character-based list wouldn't be cross-listed with a theme. But what about sketches that qualify for their own article? Would cross-listing the "In and Out" song as both a Signs article and an Opposites article be appropriate? --Ingeborg 15:50, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
If it's appropriate, then yes, an article can be listed in two categories. I'm not sure that "In and Out" is about signs, though. -- Danny (talk) 16:00, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
I finally found (and copied) a video of the "In and Out" song this weekend. Since the doors are indeed labeled in this clip, I'd say this song deserves to be crosslisted under Opposites and Signs: apparently, the monster who keeps getting trampled can't read the "IN/OUT" signs. Now, if only I had an EKA cite and author/publisher data--this could become a decent article! --Ingeborg 16:27, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

The purpose of Theme categories

We've been discussing category creation on Special:Community, and we want to take a look at the categories in Themes to make sure that the group feels like these are worthwhile categories for us to have.

The question is: What makes a Theme worthwhile for the wiki? We should probably have a working idea of what Themes are for, before we try to decide what's a good Theme and what's not.

It's a tough call, because it's subjective. If a Theme is anything that's mentioned a number of times in different context s, then we could have Themes for almost anything -- Air, Water, Sounds, Weather, Television, Telephones, Breathing, Self-esteem, Houses, Love, Empty and Full, Imagination, the Circus... The list is essentially endless, and we could end up with dozens of Themes that nobody can keep track of.

So what's the purpose of Themes? How do we know what's a useful Theme and what isn't? Is it entirely subjective and whimsical, or is there a deeper principle that we can use?

PS: I'd like this discussion to stay in the area of larger principles, rather than debating the merits of any particular Theme category. We can use current Theme categories as examples to help us figure out the larger principles, but we shouldn't use this discussion to argue over a particular Theme's worth. First we figure out the ground rules, and then deciding on the individual cases will be a lot easier. -- Danny (talk) 12:04, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

I always thought that the purpose of Themes was to help people find similarly grouped items. It would seem to me that if people are using them in that way, then they're useful and should stay. For example, if people want to know about items that are related to Friendship (which could probably use some redefinition) or Cleanliness (which could also be redefined and maybe some items moved to a section called "Hygiene" instead) then they would be able to find them all in one place. For example, there's a parent browsing the Wiki or something. They want some books, videos, whatever that are going to teach their kids about hygiene and they get that category and there all those items are. George B. (talk) 22:45, 21 December 2006 (UTC)
The question is, how do we know what "people" are interested in? The "people" are us. Personally, I think "Disco" and "Prehistoric" are amusing and worthwhile, but categories like "Chores" and "Cleanliness" are so dull and Bert-like that they're ridiculous. You can postulate a fictional parent who uses Muppet Wiki for childrearing tips, but the people who matter are the ones working on the wiki.
So my question is: Is it okay with us for anything imaginable to be a Theme? Could I create a category for "Windows", and include A Merry Muppet Christmas: Through the Window and "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?" Could I make a category for "Light", and include Episode 112: The Finger of Light and "You Light Up My Life"?
I think the increasingly dull Themes categories can potentially dilute the fun of the whole Themes enterprise. Is there a way that we can decide what's dull and what isn't?
Right now, it seems like this is just a matter between George and me, so I'd like to get other people's opinions on this. If I'm the only one who really cares, then I might as well start deleting categories that I don't personally like. -- Danny (talk) 00:56, 24 December 2006 (UTC)
I think that cuts to the rub, really. Hypothetical parents aren't the issue. If we're honest with ourselves, just about any theme happened because one person wanted to create it, suddenly noticed a pattern, or wanted to include a favorite topic. The whole themes category is an out-growth of the rabid mania for lists we underwent at the time. The earliest themes were direct expansions of lists, to cover more than just characters or episodes or whatnot, so they were already topics the community felt comfortable with. And some of the earliest were discussed at least briefly. However, and I know George and others have sometimes asked about specific categories, by this point it's just been who wants to create it. And I don't know how to change that, outside of a more stringent discussion of each beforehand. Except for two limits, which I think would be useful. One, that such lists must haved a minimum number (say four or five) or else it's too tiny to really function as a theme category. The other is that it be something which can be widely applied. And a third occurs to me, in much the same way that we handled transcriptions, with a statement about what that transcript demonstrates. That is, all categories must have some sort of description, and it should be clear how it's useful, not to hypotheticals, but to the current usage of the Wiki. That's absolutely all I can think of to say about it, as I'm still five pages away, on Christmas Eve Eve, from finishing this paper, and thus am in a less than gruntled mood towards things in general. -- Andrew Leal (talk) 01:41, 24 December 2006 (UTC)
And even when you're behind on your papers, you come up with smart things to say. I like the idea of a minimum number of entries, and a required description of why the category exists.
I'm not sure I understand your second point, though. What do you mean, it's something that can be widely applied? That sounds smart, too, and I want to make sure I understand it. -- Danny (talk) 02:37, 24 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm not Andrew, but I think by "widely applied", he meant that the articles included in the theme apply to a variety of Muppet productions, not just all concentrated on Fraggle Rock or any other limited sphere of the Muppet universe. To throw my two cents in, I just browsed a few of the themes and found several of them interesting and potentially useful, Classical Music being a fine example. However, I think it would be a bad idea to focus Themes on topics that would be useful for parents, because we have no concrete reason to believe parents are using Muppet Wiki for that purpose. For the moment, I agree with the standards Andrew outlined. -- Mary Catherine (talk) 03:25, 24 December 2006 (UTC)
Speaking as an actual parent, I find the Learning Concepts of particular interest. A great deal of Muppet content has been created over the years with explicit attention to specific thematic ideas. While Muppet Wiki wouldn't necessarily be the first place that a parent would go when searching for content to help with, say, sharing, that's not to say that grouping articles on that subject wouldn't be productive for several parties. I contest that Muppet Wiki isn't just for the contributors -- in fact it's quite the opposite. A far greater percentage of those reading Muppet Wiki will never click the edit link, so I think it's presumptuous to assume otherwise.
On the other hand, I recognize the desire by those maintaing the wiki (us) to keep a handle on the number of themes we could potentially get carried away with. Before anyone starts a category for lint, we should figure out what those guidelines are. Additionally, there are other ways to more creatively handle a particular grouping. Lists that have evolved into articles have worked out quite well. Seeing that we function equally as a Sesame Street Wiki, I could see no harm in a thoughtful article on the topic of (using my previous example) Sharing, so long as the way in which its creation was approached could be agreed upon and a certain level of quality (for example, China) could be achieved. — Scott (talk) 03:49, 24 December 2006 (UTC)
Basically, as with other issues on the wiki, there just needs to be a standard set and followed. The criteria Andrew laid out work perfectly fine. If necessary, a "Muppet Wiki Category Creation Policy" could be penned, but over all I think that at this point, there really are only three things needed to rectify this situation and cease any further spiraling: 1. Pick the parameters (Andrew's are great, but of course further input would also be fine), 2. Evaluate the current themes, discarding ones that don't meet the set standards, and 3. Keep to the practice of new categories being discussed in Special:Community prior to their creation. That covers the problem here, and prevents future headaches and massive edits+reedits. --Cantus Rock 04:48, 24 December 2006 (UTC)
If those are the criteria that we use, then right now there's just two categories that don't fit the criteria. [[:Category:Chores|Chores]] has four items, and Adoption is only Sesame items. I'm glad to have a standard; this helps me a lot. -- Danny (talk) 13:43, 24 December 2006 (UTC)
I actually disagree with the "widely applied" part of the definition. I think the themes are actually more valid as applied to individual shows because then it can be an intentional theme of that show, not just something we noticed showed up a lot, or interested one of us, or cropped up in one episode. Adoption was an intentional theme of SS, so to me, it should be as valid as eg. Numbers, which was intentionally used on SS and incidentally used on some others... -- Wendy (talk) 16:00, 24 December 2006 (UTC)
So it's tough. Even if we have a standard, it kind of comes down to personal preference. So what's to stop me from adding categories about Air, Water, Breathing and Windows, apart from the fact that they're boring and I wouldn't bother? -- Danny (talk) 16:15, 24 December 2006 (UTC)

I agree with Wendy. Adoption is a far more interesting theme than Numbers (that's a Bert category if I ever heard of one). — Scott (talk) 17:22, 24 December 2006 (UTC)

I agree, I like Adoption too. I wasn't suggesting that we get rid of it; I was just pointing out that if we use Andrew's definition of Themes, it was one of the two categories that violate that definition. I think Numbers is useful, if only because it houses the articles for the numbers themselves, which I find amusing. -- Danny (talk) 17:26, 24 December 2006 (UTC)
It is about personal preference, but it is about the personal preferences of us contributors collectively. So, we just need to tweak the standards a bit. Once the majority can agree on the rules (step 1 in my 3-step program :)), then the hypothetical issues of Windows and Air will not be an issue (as negated by step 3). Indeed, there will be instances where people's ideas will unfortunately be cast asunder, but thats pretty much whats happening now without the guidelines by no fault of anyone. So, how do the rules need to be altered in order to be agreed upon?
One thing I will say, though, is that without the "widely applied" element of the themes, then there will be a whole lot more of the specific divisions that partially started this whole incident. Without the broad application, we'd have "Sesame Street Themes," "Fraggle Rock Themes," etc. That seems more Bert-ish to me than a Numbers category. --Cantus Rock 17:51, 24 December 2006 (UTC)
Actually, re "Adoption," I do think that's a good example where a "widely applied" criteria would help. That is to say, while we turned a lot of lists into categories, some categories are better off as lists. If it only applies to one show but it's still interesting and noteworthy, it would probably make a better list, where one could add context and such, then as a flat category. Boober Fraggle's Recipes is a series specific list, reflecting a motif from one show. In this case, Adoption currently houses 7 episodes, one book adopted from certain episodes, and two characters who were adopted. There's no clear text definition, so unless one were familiar enough with the show and characters, the category actually comes across as somewhat random. Within a list, which could fit nicely either in Sesame Street Lists or better yet Sesame Street Culture, one could include quotes from books and articles about how the writers approached adoption, include inserts or other items dealing with the theme which don't necessarily need their own pages and thus couldn't be in the category, etc. That's just my thought on that one. The same could possibly be applied to a few others. I think it's just by now, most of us have reached a point where immediately we think of categories as the primary way to group anything, and shy away from lists. When really it depends on the topic. -- Andrew Leal (talk) 19:04, 24 December 2006 (UTC)
That's true, and I'll add that it might help to think of it as an article rather than a list. How Sesame has dealt with the issue of adoption would be a very interesting article, if it were fleshed out. I don't think we have a category for that right now, but I've been toying with a Sesame Street History category to hold a variety of odd items. -- Danny (talk) 19:25, 24 December 2006 (UTC)
Hmm, listing vs. categories. I like that. Some could definitely be lists. As for how we decide which categories are useful / wanted, I'm not sure. We vote on it? We talk about it? What about page counting --- I don't know exactly what tools you guys have available --- but aren't there page views counts or something you can look at and it tells you how often people are using these categories? P.S. --- about the numerical limit --- sometimes I may have started a category, but never got around to "stocking it at the time with articles, or hoped that others might join in add a few. Such as that Chores category --- I'm sure I could have found at least a few other examples to add in there. George B. (talk) 18:31, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
I want to echo the notion of trending away from lists and more towards fuller-fledged articles. Even something like Characters Who Have Five Fingers On Each Hand would be more interesting if we could gather more information on why most characters are four-fingered and why those who have five fingers do. -- Peter (talk) 18:10, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

More New Theme Ideas

How about categories for International, Colors (or maybe Concepts more in general?) and maybe siblings / new siblings? George B. (talk) 13:10, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

I'm not really sure what you mean. Colors makes sense, and along with Alphabet and Numbers, could go into a larger "Learning Concepts" category. But what do you mean by "sibling / new siblings"? There's Category:Birth for when a new sibling is born, and while it hasn't seen much use, [[:Category:Families]] (which I may need to rejigger) is a good place for any episodes/books that deal specifically with family relationships (siblings, parents, grandparents, extended families, etc.) As for international, a few examples would help, and a better name, since Category:International is explicitly an umbrella category for all the co-production and translation stuff. Are you talking about episodes where characters travel, or hear from overseas relatives or friends, or discuss other cultures, or what? It's not immediately clear to me what such a category would entail. -- Andrew Leal (talk) 15:53, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
Re --- Learning Concepts --- excellent. I'll get to work on that ASAP. Siblings / New Siblings --- I forgot about the Birth category. But what about ones that aren't about the birth of a sibling, but are focused on sibling play or interaction? Re --- Category:Families --- yeah, I added one to that earlier.
The travel category --- yeah, any sort of international travel i.e. Global Grover Travels All Over or yeah, maybe hearing from overseas relatives or friends, friends like Ursa maybe?
Oh, and I was trying to think of what else, because I seemed to remember that there was something that I had forgotten about before that would be a good idea for a category. And I was thinking maybe something like "Feelings" or "Emotions" --- i.e. Episode 229: The Way I Feel Today or Don't Cry, Big Bird? George B. (talk) 20:44, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
How about a crossovers category? It might need two sub-categories: one for Henson crossovers and one for crossovers between the Muppets and other fictional characters. Or maybe just a Henson crossovers category. Anyway, this would mainly cover major crossovers that are meant to be crossovers, like A Muppet Family Christmas. However, this leads to a few questions if such a category is made:
  1. should it only be limited to major crossovers, or should obvious cameos count as well (I don't think background-only appearances should count)?
  2. Should productiosn with major appearances by characters from other productions, but used as a different character and not meant to be a crossover, count? --Minor muppetz 04:33, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

Ideas for Other Theme Categories

I was thinking of some other common Muppety themes that could be cool to have (eventually). But before going wild and adding them all, I thought I would get some input from others. Are these too big/generic or too small/specific? What do you think of having these too, they would include merchandise, characters, productions, and whatnot for each theme.

If you have other ideas for themes feel free to share them here too. It's better to hammer them out with other community members before going around and editing a whole bunch of pages only to have to change/remove them later. -- Brad D. (talk) 01:42, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

I'm loving the Western stuff. Save Mystery for me, though, if you could. Also, would it be a good idea maybe to split any stuff about actual births out of birthdays, into a seperate category? Andrew Leal (talk) 03:23, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
I'll leave "Mystery" for you, Andrew. I split-up Birthdays and Birth (and also added Death). I didn't (yet), but was thinking to include adoption along with birth, unless someone objects. -- -- Brad D. (talk) 07:33, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
These themes are great, but how are we distinguishing them from Lists? -- Scott (talk) 22:23, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
How should we be distinguishing them? In some ways, the categories are a lot like what you've been doing with Environment Friendly Muppets and Medical Muppets, true, but even those lists are actually pretty different from a lot of what's out there. The theme categories are collecting characters, books, episodes, locations, songs, anything, where apart from those two, most of the lists are fairly rigidly character lists or lists of events or whatnot. And in some ways they complement each other. Characters Who Have Played Detective can exist more easily since Mystery takes care of all of the professional detectives and crime-themed episodes and whatnot. Do you think we're getting carried away? I guess the dividing point between themes and lists is that a theme category encompasses a broader definition. I suppose we could just stick everyting in a Mystery or Westerns list, but that seems clunky. And something like Broadcasting actually provides a home for some items which are worth adding but wouldn't fit as easily anywhere else. So in short... umm, I dunno. Andrew Leal (talk) 22:29, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
To me, themes are fun to make lists of, but not how you would categorize an article. But maybe I'm missing something. If a reader sees that Smokey the Salmon is in a "camping" category, then I guess it's more likely that s/he'll find more of that theme by networking. Whereas if he's just in a list, that same user would never have known to look for other similarly related things. So, I dunno, maybe my Potty and Medical lists should become categories...? -- Scott (talk) 22:41, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
So are you anti-categories or just suggesting better subdivision? In general, lists has become awfully messy, actually (100 plus items!), and hard to navigate to even find the useful list. I know there's a bunch of stuff, episodes and things, that could go in environmentalism, but because of the way you had "audio" and "video" divided, I wasn't quite sure how to list them seperate from productions which as a whole were environmental. And yeah, something like Potty and Medical could become categories. Nobility, on the other hand, is better off where it is, I think. It's fairly obvious what it covers, and there's been at most maybe two actualy storylines about a character becoming king or queen or whatnot, plus within the list we've been able to create a nice little hierarchy. So maybe the question is both how many diverse items there are (if nothing but characters or episodes fits in a category, then I'd say go lists) or whether further organization and text seperation is needed, which can be better accomplished with a long list. Andrew Leal (talk) 22:48, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
Another good sign might be whether multiple lists are needed to cover basically the same area. All those family lists led to a seperate category. I stuck that in [[:Category:Families]], although that could use some work especially if we want to get rid of subcategories which doesn't work so well there (but there's a ton of family-themed books and episodes and such which aren't otherwise documented on the Wiki yet). Andrew Leal (talk) 22:50, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
I think a list is good when you are dealing with one type of thing (such as characters who have played doctors) and a category is good for grouping a lot of things on a similar topic with a common theme (such as "medical" which would including books, characters, productions, episodes, locations, songs, DVDs...) Grover Books makes a good list as it deals with one thing -- books. Halloween makes a good category as it deals with many things (characters, books, videos, toys, productions, songs). -- Brad D. (talk) 01:06, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, I think the distinction Brad makes is a good one. So Potty is probably better as a Theme than a list.
I still take issue with the Family lists, but that's a separate thing. I think it makes sense as one Muppet Relatives list, but separate lists for Cousin and Sister and whatever seems like splitting one good comprehensive article into twelve not-very-good articles. -- Danny (talk) 05:55, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
Hm, participating in this discussion, I've convinced myself that themes probably work better for what's been established thus far. It's all about association, and that works best when a category structure has been set up. -- Scott (talk) 23:35, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
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