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The central goal of the category system is to provide navigational links to Wikipedia pages in a hierarchy of categories which readers, knowing essential—defining—characteristics of a topic, can browse and quickly find sets of pages on topics that are defined by those characteristics.
Categories are not the only means of enabling users to browse sets of related pages. Other tools which may be used instead of or alongside categories in particular instances include lists and navigation boxes. For a comparison of these techniques, see
When naming a category, one should be particularly careful and choose its name accurately. Moving non-conventionally categorized pages to another category name (see ) imposes an additional overhead – an edit for each article and subcategory.