How many profiles to a category?

+6 votes

I have a question - there seems to be a misunderstanding as to the amount of profiles that 1 category can handle (5000 was the limit that was understood in the past). This however seems to me to be totally unrealistic. For example - if COVID-19 would have been a category (as are other diseases) there would be much more than 5000 profiles with that category on (death victims). The Holocaust alone would encompass at least 6 million ... the list goes on.

Is there any short, clearcut answer to this question?

Edit: See my question here:

in Policy and Style by Philip van der Walt G2G6 Pilot (158k points)
edited by Philip van der Walt
I have never heard the number 5000 as limit to a category. The watchlist of a WT member however is said to be meant to hold about 5000 profiles maximum.

4 Answers

+8 votes
As far as I know, there really is no limit. For practical reasons, we subcategorize when categories get too large.
by Natalie Trott G2G6 Pilot (838k points)

What are those practical reasons exactly? Edit: Using for example the COVID-19 (or Small Pox for that matter) what would the reasons be?

Perhaps they would divide them into continents or countries.
This does not answer my question on 'why' - the practical reasons ...
Why? To make it easier to find like profiles.

In other words 'divide' the Holocaust (example) into subcatogories to 'easier' find like profiles?

Practical reasons would be "there are so many profiles attached that it's difficult to find the names. "

Any projects would need to make decisions on categories they maintain within their structures.
+5 votes

It's a pragmatic judgment based on ease of use and navigation.

Honestly anything more than 400 profiles in a category starts to get a bit unwieldy. Take this category I use frequently (and which isn't even that large):

If you are using the skip-next navigation, it's a pain to get to surnames beginning the the letter 'w', to navigate to find a specific person, or check if a family is represented.

You can use the table of contents navigation, and that helps. But once you get above about 1-2k profiles, it's going to get really cumbersome again for frequent use.

At that point, it will probably make sense to start splitting it up by country, or other, division.

by Brad Foley G2G6 Mach 4 (48.7k points)
A bit too technical for my understanding. But thanks for the answer. Aren't there any new ways of dealing with this? How do they do it on WikiPedia?

Anything over 200 divides it into pages. After that, a Category TOC template can be placed in order to "jump to a letter." 

We don't have a preference for how a category gets subdivided. The usual ways are by location or time period.

And COVID-19 isn't getting a category.

A similar outbreak to show you is the 1918 Flu Pandemic, which was divided by location.

If it's too technical to understand, actually go to the category I linked, and try to find out if someone surnamed "Willis" lived in Harbour Grace. Imagine doing this ten or twenty times.

"Too many" is defined by "how much of a pain is it to use."
+4 votes

There is no cut and dry answer unfortunately. Help:Category Names states that:

"Ideally, bottom-level categories should be much smaller, with no more than a few thousand people in them. This isn't always possible, e.g. with towns and cities, but we should aim to create narrow categories when we can."

There was a comment previously about Wikipedia, but it should be noted that this is actually much more restrictive than Wikipedia in most cases. Wikipedia currently has:

  • 700+ Categories with more than 20,000 pages
  • 750+ Categories with 10,001–20,000 pages
  • 1,400+ Categories with 5,001–10,000 pages
  • 3,330+ Categories with 2,001–5,000 pages

While I don't have any exact numbers for WikiTree, I do know of a few large categories (based on the last dump) such as:

  • Category:Unsourced Profiles - 1,020,064 profiles
  • Category:Notables - 30,476 profiles

But as you can imagine, this is not typical. I am confident that our average numbers are much lower than this, and there are very few categories that reach over 5,000 profiles.

by Steven Harris G2G6 Pilot (513k points)

Thanks Steve. I appreciate this answer. Could you also take a look at the other question I just posted (, please?

Here are exact numbers of profiles in a category updated daily.

It begins with 90000 categories without profiles, 50000 categories with one profile and so on to 1 category with 1020064 profiles.

So ve have 26 categories with over 10000 profiles.

Splitting a category into smaller, more manageable subcategories doesn't mean that you've removed them from a category. So, putting someone at the level of a town doesn't mean they are removed from the scope of a project.

(Aside: I know that statement is inviting a rant about whether Wikitree categories are categories, I'm sorry.)

Yes, always my fear as well. Asking questions and then in doing so inviting rants. wink

Thanks Aleš!
+5 votes
I regularly use a category that documents people associated with a town in Maine, and it now has more than 4,000 profiles. I don't find it cumbersome at all -- it's a lot less cumbersome than it would be to use WikiTree search every time to find a profile for someone I know or suspect is there.
by Stu Bloom G2G6 Mach 7 (75.8k points)

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