Courtesy is Required on WikiTree

Point IV in our community's Honor Code is about courtesy.

Conflicts are common on a collaborative website like WikiTree. They tend to increase over time as the size of the community grows and the depth and complexity of the collaboration increases.

To work together in a productive and enjoyable way we must all be courteous to one another.

This is an unfortunately common scenario: Member A is an experienced genealogist. They're good at research. They know how to cite sources and judge the validity of facts. But they have no patience for others and don't care if they sound rude or unkind. Member B is a beginner. They're making mistakes. But they mean well and are trying to follow the Honor Code. We really hate to lose the valuable contributions of Member A, but they must find a way to be kind to Member B. The success of our project depends on it.

Here are tips for avoiding and defusing conflicts:

  • Make an extra effort to sound polite and friendly. It's easy to misinterpret a person's tone or intentions when you're not talking face-to-face. "Emoticons" such as :-) may seem corny but they can help significantly.
  • When someone sounds rude, assume that they don't intend to be.
  • When someone makes mistakes, assume that they're unintentional.
  • Try picturing the other person as an elderly grandparent with less Internet and genealogy experience than you.
  • Be the bigger person. Treat them as you would like to be treated, not as they are treating you.
  • When giving constructive criticism, try to find a way to compliment or thank the other person. At the least, you can thank them for trying to make valuable contributions to our common project.
  • If it's a conflict about the facts, remember that you can present alternate theories in the text of a profile. For example, see disputed parentage. Present both sides fairly along with the evidence supporting or disputing each position.
  • When a conflict starts to escalate, move the conversation to G2G. Try to present the other person's position generously and ask other community members for their opinion on the contentious question. Even if you know the right answer, it may help for the person to hear it from others.
  • Remember that people don't get upset about things they don't care about. Try focusing on the fact that you both care deeply about the same subject, instead of how badly the other person is handling it.

If someone is consistently unkind or impolite, point them to Honor Code <> and this page <>. If that doesn't work, contact

To discuss the contents of this page, click here.

This page was last modified 20:28, 21 November 2013. This page has been accessed 1,419 times.