Posted: December 25, 2010 Filed under: arts
The problem is when you start applying particular cultural relevancies to topic groups you end up with category overload. As it is the number of categories are too many and relate to a world-view of 20-something, technology-oriented users. I have no doubt that is a significant number of stumblers, but it also leaves out the perspectives of other age groups and cultures.
For example, your suggestion of separating tattoos and piercings might be valid from your perspective. But from my perspective why are there no categories for other language literatures such as Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Arabic, each of which have their own very rich traditions well represented in SU. As well there is a single category for Philosophy without considering branches and subcategories which are traditional in academe. Graphic Design is meant to cover a very broad range of graphic arts topics, but Fonts alone is a particular area of interest with broad appeal which Graphic Design is asked to cover. My own personal interests include Rhetoric, and there is no place for this very important field in SU, except perhaps under Philosophy.
Meanwhile AI and Cognitive Science are prominent because these are of high applicability to the SU algorithm, though not really to the general public, and could just as easily be folded into Technology. Linguistics, Sociology, Psychology, and Economics are sitting within Sci-Tech rather uncomfortably because there is no category for “Social Sciences” to which certain pages in “Politics” might just might feel more comfortable in.
I wouldn’t really mind that there isn’t a Spanish literature category if there weren’t two separate English language ones and none for any other. And yet Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda is extremely visible on SU. As well I see plenty of Hafiz and Rumi, probably more than most English poets (perhaps simply because I am biased I see them) and yet there is no section of Arabic poetry. I’d be perfectly content with a single top level category of “Literature” with sub-topics such as Poetry, Classical Literature, Modern Literature, Novels etc.
But that is from my own cultural perspective. Everyone has one and it is biased accordingly. So let there be less categories, not more.
I could go on and on, but the point is, if SU wants to attract a user base from the wider perspective of society, they’d have to broaden the population they are studying when creating categories. I don’t know what the actual demographic of SU users is, but I’m certain it does not match the interest of the category system currently in place. And the category system does not match the potential population of SU users.
Sub-topics can be covered with tags, which SU should promote to the mass of users as a better alternative than the currently clumsy system we have in place at the moment.