Can the proliferation of the 'Anonymous' surname be halted, or at least slowed down?

+19 votes
248 views
There are currently 9,409 profiles with the surname of Anonymous.  Some of these are deliberate, but many are generated by Wikitree itself.

If you remove a name in any of the name fields, Wikitree automatically generates the name of Anonymous, unless the name is replaced with something else.  Sometimes there is nothing to replace the name with, or no name is needed.  Sometimes profile managers are unsure how to fix the problem, sometimes they may be unaware of the problem.

Whatever the reason, the number of Anonymous profiles is going to proliferate by something which Wikitree itself is producing.  Surely this cannot be acceptable, to actually input a name for someone, where none exists?

This, I feel, gives Wikitree a less than perfect profile to the world.

Margaret

Edited with link to an example profile
WikiTree profile: Gracie Campbell
in WikiTree Tech by Margaret Wilkinson G2G6 Mach 2 (20.3k points)
retagged by Keith Hathaway

3 Answers

+5 votes
Anonymous in this case is just the generic word which covers of variety of possiblities.  In general, it means the name is unknown, not known, or unsure.  By having the word anonymous in the places of other possibiltes, at least the unnamed blanks are at least grouped under one word instead of being scattered throughout the system under various words.  You aren't wrong in your idea, but I wouldn't mind seeing a suggestion for an alternative.
by Vincent Piazza G2G6 Pilot (241k points)
I see what you mean, Vincent, but anonymous implies that the person wishes/wished their details to be kept secret.  This perhaps is applicable to those still living, and a few who have died.  However I don't think it applies to people whose middle name is unknown, or those ladies whose spouse's name is unknown.

Some of these 9000 odd anonymous people have their name included in the biography.  Some appear to be a deliberate attempt to anonymise them, most appear to be errors.

I am not really talking about those deliberate entries (would appear to be a different topic for discussion), but the accidental entries, where the name is generated by Wikitree itself.

Take a look at one of the latest Anonymous Anonymous's, Campbell-11469 - her biography identifies her as Gracie Campbell, yet she shows as Gracie (Anonymous) Anonymous, formerly Campbell.  When profile manager removed a preferred name and current last name for this person, Wiki tree has invented a name for her.

Margaret
Exactly.  But the software still needs some human interaction to repair these blanks, for now it just uses the word anonymous.
+5 votes
Margaret, I agree with you. This is a problem. I too have created profiles named "Anonymous", several times. It is always because I made a mistake. I then have to edit the profile to correct the problem. This too is frustrating, because you can't simply edit the profile and delete "Anonymous". WikiTree will add it back in automatically! 
 
The only solution is to overwrite "Anonymous" with the correct name. This is not an obvious solution because the correct name is already shown as the LNAB. Therefore, you have to list the correct name twice. The LNAB and CLN must be the same.
by Rick Pierpont G2G6 Pilot (113k points)
Exactly, Rick.  You have to overwrite 'Anonymous' with something else.  There should be no need at all for anything to be entered if it is incorrect or irrelevant.  In many cases, we do not know our ancestor's preferred names, sometimes we do not know their current names.  To arbitrarily replace them with 'anonymous' seems pointless and counter productive.  

I agree with Vincent that there needs to be some human interaction in ensuring that profiles are properly presented - why does a computer programme find the need to add anything if profile still has a valid first name and LNAB?

Margaret
0 votes

what about the 265524 Unknown's compaired to the 9968 Anonymous, there is a great deal more of them, infact when I joined I made this error and had to get someone to tell me how to correct it, "one more thing they dont tell you what to do, when you join"

by Paul Curran G2G6 Mach 1 (15.4k points)
edited by Paul Curran
Paul, The fact is, we are actively encouraged to use 'Unknown', so it will continue to increase legitimately.

'Anonymous is very rarely added legitimately by the profile manager/editor.  It is added by Wikitree itself if a name field previously had a name, and that name was removed.  Usually the profile manager/editor has not realised, or does not know how to resolve the problem (which is to add a name to the field).

Margaret

Hey Paul

enlightened Why don't you start a Free Space page or G2G question "one more thing they dont tell you what to do, when you join"?

Greeters could then refer guests to that space/G2g discussion.

 

I'm encountering a slightly different issue. There is an orphaned profile William, son of Richard Charles Singletary. Richard's children are well documented. His first child Jonathan is well documented (William is theoretically his first.) There is no correct information except NO information.

Any ideas?

Susan

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