Wow, WikiTreers!

imageWhat an amazing weekend! Thank you so much to everyone who participated in our 2018 Spring Clean-a-Thon.  It’s so great to see the community come together and have so much fun cleaning up our tree.

This year we handled 152,253 suggestions nearly doubling last year’s total of 80,757.  So impressive!

Here are some other stats from our event:

Top 5 Teams:

  • Team Roses: 43,393 (!)
  • Southern Super Sweepers: 12,517
  • Team GB Gen: 11,156
  • Kiwi Crew: 9,031
  • Tidying Tornadoes: 8,009

Top 5 Participants

  • Lucy Lavelle: 7,652
  • NJ Penny: 7,652 (yes, a tie for 1st!)
  • Charlotte Shockey: 7,515
  • Emma MacBeath: 5,975
  • Deb Love: 4,000

Top 5 Suggestions Handled:

  • USA Too Early in Birth Location: 25,528
  • Empty Profile: 14,695
  • USA Too Early in Death Location: 14,324
  • Separators in First Name: 9,161
  • Missing <references /> Tag: 7,590
Top Participant Per Suggestion Group:
  • Dates: Bobbie Bonner with 1,076
  • Relationships: Sandy Patak with 396
  • Names: Emma McBeth with 5,836
  • Gender: Sandy Patak with 231
  • Locations: Lucy Lavelle with 7, 297
  • Privacy: Eowyn Langholf with 235
  • Biography: NJ Penny with 3,064
  • Templates: Aleš Trtnik with 688
  • WikiData: Stephen McCallum with 101
  • FindAGrave: Chet Snow with 805

26 teams participated and 24 of them broke 1,000!  We had 385 members registered but 475 participated in some way.  Members who weren’t registered on a specific team handled 3,411.  47 individual participants broke 1,000!

Thanks again to everyone who participated.  Can’t wait to see what happens next year!

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We’re proud to announce that we just released a major round of improvements to our system for merging person profiles.

The next time you merge you’ll notice some big differences. (If you want to see them now, you could see if there is a pending merge you can help complete.)

Those of you who are familiar with our tools for merging-in data from external websites — WikiTree X and GEDCOMpare — will recognize most of the changes. We adapted the innovations made while developing those new systems into our original merge code.

Here are some of the changes:

  • You’re not limited to selecting data from the merged-away profile or keeping data from the merged-into profile. You can enter completely new data during the merge.
  • You can view, set, and modify the certainty status of data fields and parental relationships during the merge.
  • If you enter or edit the birth or death location, the standardized place name suggestions from FamilySearch will appear. You can hide these suggestions if they’re annoying.
  • You can now edit the text section during the merge. Previously, the entire text section from the merged-away profile was appended to the bottom of the text section for the merged-into profile. You then had to edit this after the merge. Now we append biography to the biography and the sources to the sources, and you can do the final edits right there on the merge form.
  • You can preview the text section before completing the merge.
  • When you complete the merge the data is scanned for likely errors. It’s the same data validation system that we have for editing profiles.

WikiTreer-in-Chief, Chris Whitten, feels very good about these changes.  As he says, synthesizing conflicting information into one coherent profile — figuring out what the sources really tell us and communicating it on the page — is high-level genealogy collaboration. It is the essence of what we do on WikiTree.

Merging can never be easy. But we can make it easier to do better merges, and hopefully that’s what we’ve done here. In the long run this should relieve some of the burden that’s been placed on the generous, experienced WikiTreers who have to clean up messy merges done by less experienced members.

Please post here if you notice problems, or if you have suggestions for further improvements, or improvements to the explanations on the Merging Help page.

Onward and upward!

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As we leave 2017 and head into 2018 (our 10th Anniversary year!), we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the highlights of the year.  Here are some of our favorites:

Over Three Million Profiles Added

Just after New Year’s Day in 2017, we passed a huge milestone – 13 million profiles, with about two million of those being added in 2016.

Our present to ourselves in 2017 was to pass 16 million profiles on Christmas Eve!  Which means that in this one year, you all added over three million profiles to our growing family tree.  Not only that, but because of our focus on sourcing and accuracy, our tree isn’t just getting bigger – it’s getting better!

RIP, Nancy Lee Cousins

Not all the highlights of the year were necessarily happy ones but we can’t look at 2017 without mentioning Nancy Lee Cousins, or Lee,  as she liked to be called.  In April, she lost her fight after battling a long illness.

Lee was a WikiTreer for about four years and made innumerable contributions.  She was spunky, delightful and fun. During her struggles, she wrote to one of our team members and said, “I am an old woman and shortly after I retired, I had a massive stroke. That really put the old brakes on someone who was so active in everything. I had to give up all my projects that I had looked forward to working on in my ‘twilight years.’ Then came Wikitree and saved my life.  It really gives me a reason to get up in the morning …  I feel as if I know each of you and love you as friends.”

Lee was greeting new members until just a few weeks before she died.  She continues to be greatly missed in our community.

Member-Created Apps

Our WikiTree Apps project is for programmers who want to help develop features and functions that enhance WikiTree for genealogists, and for outside developers and researchers who would like to make use of the global family tree for creative, non-profit purposes.  This year members created some cool apps!

  • Julian Laffey made an app that allows a quick search of your watchlist, photo face tagging and collapsible descendant trees.
  • Created by Jamie Nelson, this app will give you a list of your brick wall/dead-end ancestors.

Successful “‘Thons”

In April, we held our first ever Spring Clean-a-Thon, an event that stemmed from Laura Bozzay’s idea for a community clean-up weekend.  Our goal was to clear out as many database suggestions as possible.  As a result of everyone’s hard work, in 72 hours we addressed 80,757 suggestions.

Top 5 Participants:

  1. Lucy Lavelle – 3,167
  2. Emma McBeth – 3,046
  3. Charlotte Shockey – 2,763
  4. Dorothy Barry – 1,897
  5. Anonymous J. Penny – 1,732

Later, in October, to celebrate Family History Month, we had our second annual Source-a-Thon, the goal being to add at least one source to as many unsourced profiles as possible.  In 72 hours, we sourced 53, 245 profiles!

Top 5 Participants:

  • Lucy Lavelle (again!) – 1,780
  • Morgan Mulligan – 1,495
  • Deb Durham – 1,445
  • NJ J Penny – 1,242
  • Emma MacBeath – 1,177

We can’t wait to see what you guys pull off in our 2018 “‘Thons”!

New Leaders

Almost everything on WikiTree is done by volunteers. Some volunteers become very active in the community and committed to its mission. They start and lead projects, take responsibility, and help others. From among these natural leaders, a very small group has been given the official status of “WikiTree Leader.” These Leaders have special powers and ongoing responsibilities.  We were thrilled to have some amazing WikiTreers join our Leader ranks in 2017:

Ellen SmithCindy LesureNatalie TrottSusie MacLeodIsabelle RassinotEva EkebladSarah HeineySarah RojasDebi  HoagMel LambertSummer Orman and Jamie Nelson.

We were equally thrilled to have Guy Constantineau and Jillaine Smith return from “Leader Emeritus” status to become fully active leaders again.

Lastly, in February, we added a new member to our small team, Julie Ricketts. Though new to the team,  she’s been heavily involved in essential WikiTree projects such as the Greeters and Mentors for years.  Julie helps administer projects and project leaders.

RootsTech 2017

Each year a bunch of the Team, Leaders and other WikiTreers get together in Salt Lake City to work our booth at the RootsTech Conference.  More of you join us each year and it’s a blast!  It’s really the only opportunity we have where we can get together face to face for a few days and we really enjoy it.  Last year’s group had way too much fun:

GEDCompare 2.0

As of September, we stopped doing traditional GEDCOM imports.

“Importing your tree” never really made sense here, where we share one tree. Working with the old system was like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. We forced you to compare everyone in your GEDCOM with potential matches on WikiTree, skip everyone who appeared to be a duplicate, and import the rest as new people, all in one painful step. And that was just the first step. If you didn’t go on to edit and improve the profiles that were created through the import you would be leaving messes for others to clean up later.

Now we have something that fits more comfortably with the way collaboration works here. It’s a dynamic process. It still begins with automatically-suggested matches. But as you compare them and explore existing WikiTree profiles, you can update those profiles and add relatives one person at a time using your GEDCOM data and your good judgment as a Wiki Genealogist.

Thanks to your feedback, we are continuing to improve this new process and look forward to it being even better in 2018.

Honorable Mentions

Here are a few more quick highlights we thought worth mentioning:

So as we move onward and upward into a new year, we want to say thank you, WikiTreers!  WikiTree is what it is because of you and because of what you are contributing to our community.

2018 will be an exciting year as we celebrate our 10th Anniversary!  Don’t miss the fun stuff already happening like the WikiTreer Awards, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, challenges, projects, ‘Thons and more.

See you around the Tree!

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Hi WikiTreers,

We just released some improvements to our “data validation” systems, i.e. the checks for conflicting or questionable data that we do when creating or editing a profile.

(We actually tried to release the changes earlier today but K Bloom and some other members spotted problems so we pulled back and made some quick changes. Thank you to those who reported the bugs.)

For those who are interested, here’s the current list of checks:

The most significant change today is that the error messages are much more informative.

For example, prior to this you might see error messages such as, “A birth date should not be more than 60 years before or after a sibling’s birth date” or “A child’s birth date should not be before a parent is six years old.”

With these messages, you would have no idea which date for which sibling was causing the problem, or with parent-child problems, even whether the profile you were editing was the parent or the child in the relationship. This could be very frustrating.

Now the error messages will say something like, “A birth date (Whitten-964 born 1900) should not be more than 60 years before or after a sibling’s birth date (Whitten-1 born 15 Sep 1971)” or “A child’s birth date (Whitten-964 born 1900) should not be before a parent is six years old (Jones-1 born 17 Nov 1947).”

In addition to the error message improvements, we added a lot of checks regarding conflicting indicators on whether or not the person is living. These are very important because they affect our privacy controls. These checks should help prevent profiles from being locked-up unnecessarily.

Please post here if you spot any problems. It’s certainly possible that there are more bugs. Thanks!

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Hi WikiTreers!

Here are a few things happening around the community this week:

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