If I quit WikiTree, the culprit will be LNAB

+26 votes

The LNAB was the main reason why I was a long time reluctant to join WikiTree. I eventually got over it, and am happy I did, because I've learnt a lot here. WikiTree has other issues, but I can live with all of them. They are the issues of all online collaborative endeavours, which did not compromise the growth and success of Wikipedia, for example. But LNAB keeps getting in my way, and on my nerves. And it will be the one and only reason why I quit, if I do.
And it could unfortunately be the major stumbling block on WikiTree's path towards achieving its universal mission.

I could go for hours listing the dire consequences of this basic feature which is in fact a serious congenital bug. And I'm on the verge of going away because of it. The problem being, where to? WikiTree is technically flawed, but there is nowhere to go with a similar spirit and community. So let me sum up once for all why LNAB is a bug, even if it's useless because I know the answer : c'est comme ça et on n'y peut rien!

1. Using a name as a basis for identification in a non-starter, and the more so in modern information systems. Even librarians, who have a looong tradition of maintaining "authorities" with "preferred names" and "alternate names", and the like, who have munched ad nauseam over the issues linked to naming and indexing for centuries, have eventually understood what LaoZi wrote in six characters very long ago, 名可名,非常名. Librarians came out with shared identifiers (dumb numbers) around which they gathered all the variety of names for a person, or for that matter a place, a book, or any subject a library catalogue wishes to reference. Each great national library did it, and then they sit together to create VIAF, a ring to rule them all. I'll be back with an example below.

2. Why "last name" and "at birth"? Looking at some recent and less recent questions in this forum, the mandatory LNAB to create a profile leaves to ridiculous debates and waste of time and energy. And what if there is no birth record available? And what if the birth record had it wrong, and was corrected afterwards? What if the siblings in the birth records have different family name? And what if the person belongs to a country, a language, a culture, a period, where the very notion of "last name" does not make sense? Those things happen all the time, and I read in a recent debate here that people just do not create profiles because they can't figure the LNAB.

3. Adding to the above, if you make a mistake when creating the profile, even a simple typo, of course you can change it, but it means creating a new profile and merging, and we are said not to do that too much, because it creates a lot of redirects in the data base, which is an overload on the system. A problem perfectly technically understandable, but from a end-user perspective, is seen as a big bug.

4. From a search point of view, LNAB is often not the most frequent name under which the person is known, and people searching in WikiTree, directly through the internal search engine, or from an external one, are likely either to miss it, or have hard time recognizing that they have indeed found the person they were looking for. I had this experience a lot of time searching famous people in France history, for whom I had to try several names before finding them out, or go through some member of their family I know was there etc.

When you put all that in the context, say, of French aristocracy, where the syntax and semantics of names are both very codified and of course suffering many exceptions to its own codes, it's bound to be a total failure. The adaptation rules chosen to make those convoluted names enter the data base structure are just pathetic, and will send any serious french genealogist de bonne famille to roll on the floor laughing, or cry in despair, but by no means will he take the whole thing as serious, and never ever join us. If any true French aristo with seize quartiers de noblesse is around here, could (s)he please step forward?

And moreover most of those profiles have been created by people with only vague notions of those naming subtleties, but who happen to be far descendants of an aristo, or think they are, they have it wrong. Which should not be a problem, because the Honor Code says We know mistakes are inevitable We don't want to be afraid to make them. But if mistakes relate to LNAB, you are not welcome to correct them because of point #3 above.

I stumbled on one of those, in reference, and I put a comment on the profile that Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne means, as far as I understand it, a given name of "Henri" to a member of the "La Tour" family, of whom fief was "Auvergne" at some point (a province of France). It was before "La Tour d'Olliergues", Olliergues being a city in Auvergne. You see there that the family has gained power. More at https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maison_de_La_Tour_d%27Auvergne

So, all people in this family, if we were to apply at best the silly LNAB rule, should certainly have as LNAB "La Tour", aka "d'Auvergne" for our Henri, best known in Histoire de France as "Turenne".

The answer by Isabelle, after we had a private exchange about it, reads : yes it's a mess, but what could we do, because of all above listed reasons? My answer is : get rid of LNAB, rethink the whole naming issue on a really universal basis as librarians have done at some point, to allow any local naming convention, save the data, and migrate to a new data base. WikiTree will have to do that at some point, or die out, or stay forever a permanent frustration for all those here who are dreaming its dream. If change has to be done, the sooner the better. Migrating 20 million+ entries is not easy. When we are at 50 or 100 million, it will be worse.

Going back to VIAF : https://viaf.org/viaf/59190793/ is our man, see how different libraries have chosen different "preferred" ways to name him ... and the 218 (to date) "other forms of the name", just missing the one chosen by WikiTree.

[edited to get rid of rude language, thanks Julie for pointing at itwink]

WikiTree profile: Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne
ago in The Tree House by Bernard Vatant G2G6 Mach 2 (26.9k points)
retagged ago by Bernard Vatant
Ha!  I am amused by your example because it reminds me of reading the Memoirs of Lucy de La Tour du Pin, who, after the Revolution, had to go about as Citizeness Latour.
Yes, during the Revolution, civil acts get rid of all the marks of nobility in the names of the ci-devants. Idem during 1848 less known revolution. And you find a lot of acts with margin mentions restoring the nobility marks to the names, after a judgement asked by the family, and sometines very long after. So which LNAB do you choose then?
I would use La Tour
Ideally it would be great if we had more spaces for variant spellings and appellations so that searching for any of them would bring you to the desired profile.

Even relatively obscure families can have a multitude of differing spellings in contemporary documents and I often make quite arbitrary decisions what to go with because it doesn't make sense to have every member in the family have a different surname just because the christening records were made in an era when the notion that there could be a "correct" spelling of a name would have been laughed at.
Yes Monica, that's why we need this "alternate names" optional field, along with a "preferred name". Providing the alternate names are taken into account in the search.
I tried to find


here, had not any idea what LNAB he would have, he despite being a king of Sweden does not have a profile here and I don't think anyone here wants to add him

I have Bourke ancestors, they could not read or write, so I have three documents all with various spellings of Bourke, Bourk, Bourke, Burk, a different spelling for when they were born, married and died. Which one do I choose. I have stuck with the more common Bourke. But for the purposes of LNAB here it is wrong

because no one knows what his LNAB should be

@ Will Palmer One your link doesn't work due to a comma at the end of the link. Two The profile for Charles XII of Sweden's father is on Wikitree at https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Palatinate-Zweibrücken-1. It appears the House name was used. Why you would have to ask the two projects that are the profile managers.

Can you please tag this with some tech tags (...)? I'm hoping the people doing the actual programming will at least read this.
I removed the comma, I tried to find my original question here about Charles but I cant remember what day it was, it was about a month or more ago

It's here, Will: https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/1027876/https-en-wikipedia-org-wiki-charlesxiiofsweden

If you look at your g2G profile there is a tab for all questions you have asked.

Karl den tolfte still does not have a profile.

There, I made him a profile (at the risk of being shot, because no one will agree with the LNAB...). But now, it's his sister and successor, Ulrika Eleonora, who is missing (her husband has a profile).

Thanks, Isabelle. I won't shoot you.
Thanks, Eva, I know you won't.
Great, Isabelle. Now, somebody should correct the LNABs of his father and grandfather too. "Palatinate" seems to be an English translation of the German "Pfalz". We don't translate names, do we?
Ah, yes. That looks much better.

10 Answers

+11 votes
Bernard, I understand why the LNAB does not work well, to say the least, for European nobility, etc., and maybe there ought to be a special rule for them.  But--sorry if I'm missing your point--for the vast majority of profiles on WikiTree, what would be an equally convenient means of indexing and finding them?
ago by Julie Kelts G2G6 Pilot (274k points)
That makes sense.
Bernard, if I may chime in here one last time, I would like to offer a suggestion.  You do seem to understand the problem well enough, and you clearly have a fair number of supporters who agree with your complaint.  Rather than just let the whole discussion drift into oblivion, could you perhaps consider creating a free-space page (or a white paper, if you prefer) that summarizes all of the features and capabilities that would be needed to support different naming conventions that the site does not provide now?  You could enlist some of your supporters to contribute their own ideas and inputs, and perhaps achieve some sort of consensus about what capabilities are needed.  If appropriate, it could be subdivided into things that are essential or nice to have, that would support Language A but not Culture B, and so forth.  I'm suggesting you could just articulate the requirement, not the solution.  If you are not ready to make a specific proposal or request that's fine, but I could see such a document being very useful if/when the powers that be do decide to get serious about providing better international support.  Management will certainly need some help from those who live with the other conventions in order to get it right.
Good suggestion, Dennis!
Dennis, that's a very constructive proposal, thanks a lot. I will try to do that, although it will maybe first on my personal web, in the form of PDF slides, I'm not familiar at all with the free-space pages.

Bernard, free-space pages are quite simple to set up, and you have a lot of freedom as to their construction, etc.  Use this link and then just click on Creating Free-Space Profile..."Simply use this form."

As Julie says, it's easy as could be, and the pages have privacy settings just as people profiles do.  You could make it Open and invite others to add their own thoughts and comments, or you could make public and add only those you wish to the trusted list.  A site leader suggested a similar thing to me for trying to clean up a lot of inconsistencies in a big family with about six or eight profile managers involved.
OK, thanks, I will have a look.
I will be happy to have a look as well.

Darren Kellett wrote:

Granted the Last part of the acronym isn't the best( I think Family name at Birth or FNAB might be better) but it becomes a matter of terminology which can have multiple meanings even within the same culture never mind other cultures. A FNAB provides a fixed point that won't change whereas people can change names thru marriage or stage names or other means.

Then you forget the fact that many cultures didn't generally have family names at all. Where I come from, common people didn't have family names in a legal sense until 1923. Most got by with their patronym. A typical family could consist of Hans Olsen married to Anne Pedersdatter, with the children Peder Hansen and Kari Hansdatter.

Common practice with respect to Scandinavian patronymic culture here on WT is to enter the patronym as LNAB. Other genealogy sites have chosen to use the concept of "Farm names" (which really are addresses) as family names, thus imposing a set of conventions which are totally incompatible with the historical facts.

There is nothing intuitive about "Patronym as LNAB" though. Therefore, we find Norwegians all over the place who have been registered with Farm name as LNAB, patronym as middle name, or patronym + farm name in the LNAB field. Plus a whole slew of other methods. That's one of the results of having a data model that doesn't account for other naming practices than 20th century American.

People often build their trees on other sites.  The gedcom arrives with a "surname" marked off with slashes and WikiTree follows that.  The issue needed to be addressed somewhere else.

There's no need to get hung up on labels.  The label on the box is only a mnemonic, not a definition.  The use of the box is defined by what the software does with it.

Historical facts aren't an issue.  Question is, if users need to be able to see whether a certain name appears in a long list or not, how should we organize the list?
+9 votes
I agree the last name at birth doesn't work well particularly with the Euroaristo.  It is rare to see an actual birth certificate as the best information is found in the house records.

Not all families are like ours where there is a genannt and where the noble name is heroic rather than geographical.

As the Baltic Nobles also were a cadet nobility which spread into many other countries, there is no consistent spelling.

And a noble may be known by a spelling other than his birth one.
ago by Lloyd de Vere Hunt G2G6 Mach 1 (18.6k points)
+9 votes
The complication is that bios are stored as MediaWiki pages,which are like Wikipedia pages.

The MediaWiki people did some cute hacking here  They use pagenames as unique IDs for pages, with the idea that in Wikipedia the pagename is basically the article title.  The wins are

1- a wikilink can often be created (in Wikipedia) just by putting square brackets round a word or phrase, without having to enter a page ID

2- in listings of pages, eg category members, the pagename will do as a display name without having to retrieve further information

3- listings can be sorted by pagename (and the pagename sort is just bytewise, or maybe with a Unicode collating map at worst).

So the WikiTree ID was invented to serve as a page ID.  But it's not easy to devise pagenames to meet those objectives.  Category listings used to be sorted by WikiTree ID, but now they get re-sorted.

But the sort key still starts with the LNAB.  If we didn't have the LNAB as we know it, the issues wouldn't evaporate, they would resurface in constructing sort keys.

But I don't think the MediaWiki people would pretend that their cute scheme would work for a multi-alphabet multi-language pagename space, or with random non-significant spelling variation.

And I don't think librarians have solved those problems.  They often transliterate.  They probably sort names using a scheme designed for the customs of their own country and makeshift in dealing with a minority of foreigners.
ago by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (547k points)
That is why there is wikidata now, to handle with the massive flaw of a title name as the title URL identifier.
@RJ All good points, and Michel took the answer from my mouth. Except that Wikidata is now in a spiral on uncontrolled growth without quality check, which raises other problems.

I'd rather point at VIAF, as said at the end of the post. Librarians did it perfectly right there. You can't solve the naming issues by using more names. URIs and opaque IDs are the way out of the naming mess.

And BTW, I think we should start adding VIAF IDs to profiles, but I will post ASAP a separate thread for this proposal, but please have a look at https://www.oclc.org/en/viaf.html
Wikidata is still supposed to have a notability criterion, of sorts.  At least, they should be notable enough to have published genealogy.  It's not intended for massive numbers of ordinary people. Eg if you imported complete censuses, you'd have massive duplication across decades that could only be resolved by doing all the genealogy.
It used to be, but notability criteria for Wikidata are more and more elastic. You can add just about anybody without anybody complaining. VIAF has an objective criteria of notability, which is the presence in at least one library catalogue, often many more, meaning the person is either an author of some book/publication, or is quoted in them. Either way, having a VIAF ID means there are documents stored somewhere in a library shelf by or about you. Which is, in the information world, the cleanest definition of notability you can find. Moreover, through this ID, you are likely to find references to the said documents, aka sources.
Another aspect is that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a relational database. Print encyclopedias and dictionaries have headwords/titles and cross-references as their lookup method, with no index or even table of contents; the vagaries and nuances of database structures are simply not applicable to them. The transfer to HTML and its hyper-cross-referencing capabilities doesn't fundamentally change that.

WikiTree, on the other hand, very much _is_ a relational database. Genealogy software is all a subset of database management software. WT, being cobbled together mostly based on text-management software and on unconscious American assumptions, is sometimes rather singularly unsuited to its purpose. Its handling of names is the prime example of this.
@J Palotay : what I begin to understand, thanks to various above comments of @RJ Horace and @Darren, is that a part of the problem is that the Web layer of WikiTree is based on MediaWiki technology, which needs identification of pages based on "linked names" (the genial idea of Wiki inventor Ward Cunningham). Hence the invisibility of primary keys which indeed exist in the data base, like in any data base, but are not used as IDs for the Web pages, because it conflates with the whole Wiki idea. OK so far.

That said, remains the choice of mandatory "LNAB", among all possible choice of names, which has no technical justification. Wikipedia, based on the same Wiki technology, has no constraint whatsoever on the structure of a name, and has set pragmatic solutions to the homonymy and synonymy problems, without problems for search.
Are those listed benefits really important? The comparison to Wikipedia also reminds us of a big difference. On Wikipedia article names are changed constantly. No one cares about that or thinks that using Wikipedia depends on article title searching.

Wikipedia has no capability for sorting lists of names.  It has a lot of lists of names, but they all have to be sorted manually or not at all.  Results can be poor


There's no consistency between lists.

Reader-sortable tables are a feature.  If a table has a name column, you should be able to sort the names in alphabetical order.  You can't.

In genealogy, the ability to generate ad-hoc lists of names and sort them on the fly is essential.

Looking at the VIAF page, most libraries would sort Henri under Turenne, his title.  The same libraries would probably sort "Diana, Princess of Wales" under D.  This sort of thing is fine for libraries but it won't do for genealogy.

Computers can't sort free-form names by some kind of intuition.

I personally don't find that so essential. I think google style searching has changed the way people find things. Sorted lists are often just ways of finding things.

The only time we need to still rely on alphabetical order now is for smaller printed lists that people need to go through "by eye", which we can often just rejig manually?

But in any case, surely the only way to ever really fix this (or make a least worst solution) is with a separate manual sorting key like Wikipedia?
But then we're back where we came in.  We do away with the LNAB box, we add a Sort Key box, and the problem of what to put in the LNAB box becomes the problem of what to put in the Sort Key box.  The only thing that's changed is the label.

If the labeling and the naming rules made it clearer that it's all about sorting really, then the issue would mostly go away.  Or at least, we'd understand the question.  Should Henri appear under La, or Tour, or Auvergne, or Turenne?  The computer needs an answer from us, and takes one, even if we were fooled by labels into thinking we were answering a different question.
That does not seem like a crazy direction to think in: a "sorting only" field.

It perhaps means another field, although perhaps it can be done with some re-purposing.
+9 votes
I just want to state that I totally agree. There is no technical reason, except for the 'old fashioned way that wikis used pagenames and searching' to use the LNAB as the identifier. Any modern wiki uses real IDs. See Wikidata, see musicbrainz, see all documentation on linked open data. Even the data doctors use ids...

These are all technical reasons and will not change the way the 'wiki' part works. You can still use templates, links etc. It's just the programming that needs to change.
ago by Michel Vorenhout G2G6 (7.3k points)
+5 votes
I would like to defend the WikiTree system and offer a few suggestions:

1) Last Name at Birth should stand. It is useful information.

2) Current Last name could stand (or be changed to Last Name at Death.)

3) Please increase the number of Other Last Names fields. They could be called Other Last Name 1, Other Last Name 2, and Other Last Name(s) 3 and more. Many profiles would not need all of these fields, but this would help deal with aristocracy, people who were adopted, and woman with multiple marriages. I believe that this would allow for easier database searches without substantially changing Wikitree.

4) Please increase the number of Middle Name fields. They could be called Middle Name 1, and Other Middle Name(s) 2 and more.

5) The European nobility represents a small portion of world names. If we want to be more accessible and include people from countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, and so on, "Last Name at Birth" could become "Family Name" and First Name could become "Given Name".
ago by Anne Creighton G2G6 Pilot (107k points)
So names are very confusing in the Irish Landed Gentry.

So our name is de Vere Hunt.  But based on the pre-fire proof, the family was licensed to use the name de Vere for Ireland, having proven descent from a female member of the family of the Earls of Oxford.  When that occurred, a Phillips who had female de Vere Hunt blood, took the Hunt name over.  So the Philips name was open and it was taken by yet another family with a female descent from de Vere Hunt.  Then by a questionable will - there were males available, the property went to an O'Brien who had married a de Vere an then he became a de Vere.  

The above scenario also replayed in many other families, just a massive domino effect.
Some of us had an entertaining moment a while back about the so-called "American naming system" of WikiTree. Did you know that the Americans are supposed to use "Their conventions instead of ours" on WikiTree as we all do, but they don't. The phrase "Middle Name was first used in 1835 in a publication, Harvardina. Then you should allow for when states or the Federal Government actually started using the phrase in official documents which could be another 50 or 100 years later. It simply means that the American ancestors on WikiTree are not named correctly, at least definitely not before 1835.

Read for yourself here is the link Havardiana

They probably called it their 'second name'.

You asked what they might be called if not a 'middle' name.  I answered: they probably called them 'second name'.  That would be the same as 'second forename'.  They just weren't called 'middle name'.

Please, let's get back to the topic. This question was about the Last Name at Birth. There are several other threads available to discuss the "middle" name. Thank you....
Isabelle, you're right.  Sorry for posting.  I'm going to hide my previous comments.  Others can do the same if they wish.  Apologies to readers if they can't make sense of the last few posts.  

Note to mediators:  Please don't reshow (not that you would, but sometimes I've experienced that).

I hid my previous response because I unintentionally hijacked the topic to other parts of the name.  Mea culpa...  

So to turn it specifically and only to LNAB...   

I still respectfully disagree that this is the only name we should really query on or care about.   

Most of the pre-1500 and pre-1700 profiles have made up LNAB typically using either where they were born or if a dynasty or house is known using that.  This is why querying for more recognized names of Kings or famous people of olden times are not easily found.  

Sometimes decisions are made that make total sense at the time of that decision but databases change based on the new data being accumulated and this might cause reason to reconsider older decisions.  I think with WT's desire to branch out to other cultures this is a perfect reason to review and perhaps rethink old decisions.  It does not mean they were wrong, but it might mean there needs to be some modifications.  One thing I would think about adding is a field called commonly known as.  This would allow someone to drop in Charlemagne and not be taken here


but be taken here Carolingian-77.    It will also cover those instances in Germany where a man married a woman and took her LNAB because it as the farm name and the farm name was more important than th family name.  

And it would cover pseudonyms like Mark Twain.  

Laura, you arguments make sense, but I wonder whether changes will be made.

After I saw your post, I Googled "Charlemagne on WikiTree" and the very first listing was the right one.  I wonder if as, at least a temporary measure, we could just refer people to Google?  After all, it is there, it works...

That might not cover ordinary people, but at the least the notables could be found more easily.
I did not mention the "middle name" to take away the discussion about "LNAB", but to point out that the current naming system does not work correct even for American ancestors. The whole naming system should be discussed not just fractions of it, because what you change in one part of the system will ultimately effect the rest of the same system.

I'm sure, we are all serious about genealogy that is why we respond to these issues on WT. Brushing it aside does not make something go away.
+7 votes
Basically database managers like to select and sort and join records based on fields.  Whole fields, as stored and indexed.  So fields need to be designed that will work for these purposes.

Users won't feel that their great-grandmother's sort key was her most important attribute.   But they want sensible sorted lists.  If she doesn't appear where they expect, they won't scan the whole list and find her, they'll just assume she's missing.

But if the fields you need for database operations are user-supplied data, and can't be selected from a fixed menu, then you have a big problem.  As we know from experience, users will try to enter all sorts of junk in name fields without regard to function.

The LNAB field is essentially the first sort key.  Watchlists, category member lists etc will come out sorted by LNAB first.

(In fact category members used to be sorted by pagename, ie WikiTree ID.  This was the main reason to create a new page when changing an LNAB.)

So the LNAB rules are supposed to be an attempt to get the field populated with something that works right when sorting lists.

Unfortunately people have taken their eyes off the ball, including Chris, and extraneous and conflicting considerations have been dragged in.  Creating the current mess.
ago by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (547k points)
+4 votes

Je vais m'exprimer trivialement et en français. Wikitree est prise de tête. Moi, je m'en fous que l'enregistrement ne respecte pas les procédures qui sont si nombreuses qu'il faudrait passer un permis de remplir avant de se mettre au travail. Je veux des profils avec des informations justes et vérifiables (et sans payer, les liens vers Ancestry avec adhésion, j'en ai marre).
ago by David Quénéhervé G2G6 Mach 6 (62.7k points)

David, je ne suis pas sûr de comprendre. Tu veux dire que je ne devrais pas me prendre la tête avec ce genre de question, et utiliser le système en l'état en me préoccupant juste d'entrer des infos correctes avec sources, et me moquer du reste? C'est certainement la position la plus sage! Et sur Ancestry j'applaudis des deux mains yes

Bernard, it might be nice if you would translate for the rest of us.  Here is what Google tells me about David's answer:

"I will express myself trivially and in French. Wikitree is taken of head. I do not care that the registration does not follow the procedures which are so numerous that it would be necessary to pass a permit to fill before starting to work. I want profiles with fair and verifiable information (and without paying, links to Ancestry with membership, I'm fed up)."

And your response:

"David, I'm not sure I understand. You mean I shouldn't be bothering myself with this kind of question, and using the system as it is, just worrying about entering correct information with sources, and making fun of the rest? It is certainly the wisest position! And on Ancestry I applaud with both hands..."


It's obvious to me that for whatever reasons (technical, economical, sociological, psychological...) they don't want major changes. Wikitree is supposed to be International but remains very Anglo-Saxon. I guess that many Continental European users are in favor of some key changes. We use Wikitree because it's the only one of its kind and the idea is interesting but I don't really need it for my own researches.

Thank you, David.  Maybe I should have asked you in the first place, but not knowing you, I did not know anything about your proficiency in English.  I posted the Google Translate version because it was funny (to me), and I like to laugh!  laugh  I'm sorry if you were offended in any way.

Now that I can reply to what you have said:  First of all, as I mentioned to Bernard elsewhere in this complicated thread, he has not specifically addressed WikiTree management.  My own guess is that there are significant technical and economic challenges to making major changes to WikiTree's architecture.  On the other hand, though I am not really qualified to hold an opinion on the subject, I imagine that such changes will be inevitable if WikiTree is to survive.

Of course we don't particularly need WikiTree for our research, because it is not a research site.  By that I mean that WikiTree doesn't have its own archives, like for example Ancestry does.  Yet I use it because it is free, and I can share the information I have with more people, including my own relatives who don't want to pay for subscription websites.  Also I enjoy the community!

Finally, I appreciate that WikiTree is overwhelmingly Anglo-Saxon (or I'll take your word for it), but to be fair, so are its users.  So expanding options in a way that are useful everyone is a good goal, but not at the expense of the largest user group.

I'm glad WikiTree has international users.  That enriches the WikiTree experience, and, to put it selfishly, I like the opportunity to correspond with people from many parts of the world.  So I hope you will continue to find it worthwhile.

Julie, the main reason why I came to WikiTree, and the main reason I'm still here, is this, read at https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Help:Collaborative_Family_Tree

"A collaborative family tree, or single family tree, is one that we all share. It's not your tree or my tree. It is our tree — a tree for the entire human family."

Highlighting of the three last words is by me. I took them at face value, please tell me now if I was wrong. The Anglo-Saxon world is just one part of the family, and, sorry to say, not the largest one. And as long as it is the largest user group, WikiTree is missing its declared target. The objective of WikiTree in the long run should be to have a community of users representative of the entire human family.

If I believe https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglosphere, the "Core Anglosphere" (USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) represents 6% of the world population. I guess in WikiTree, it's rather 94% of users who belong to this world.

Seems often to me now that non Anglo-Saxons are welcome here insofar as they can help with finding pre-1600 European ancestors of American immigrants, if possible famous ones, and decipher unreadable French, Russian, Dutch, Spanish ... records.

 I won't be rude, but I could have the same attitude, and care only for my own ancestors from Brittany, where there are excellent genealogy societies making a tremendous job about them, such as that one http://cghp-poher.net/

Bernard, I'll reply privately.
@Julie: If you take the chicken, I will take the egg...
Sorry, Michel, I don't know what you mean.
Julie, if WT remains this US focused, it will remain very hard to attract no US citizens. But as you say, as there are so little of us, WT does not feel the need to shift the focus more than it does now...


Out of the 7 Billion (currently) only a few are US based... so if the goal of WT is to create a world wide tree to enhance the feeling of 'one world', the rest of the world should be the focus more.

Thank you, Michel, I am familiar with the expression.  I wasn't sure what you meant by your use, but I suppose I should have understood.  No offense, but I think I've said everything I have to say in this thread and do not want to continue the discussion.  I hope Bernard will nicely summarize all the input on his free-space page.  smiley

2 questions:

1. Can there ever be one way of using the limited number of fields which can work for everyone?

2. Does there need to be?
+4 votes
Bernard, I completely agree.  This is one of the reasons I've stopped contributing to Wikitree.  Being told over and over by Anglophone genealogists with no experience in the appropriate contexts that, say, my grandmother's grandmother should be "Rosen" rather than "Baronesse von Rosen" because of Wikitree's absurd LNAB indexing and adding to this the habit of "Data Doctors" butchering any attempt to create a reasonably correct noble surname-title combination in the current system was too much to bear.  If things ever improved, I'd be so glad to return!
ago by Kelsey Jackson Williams G2G6 Mach 1 (10.8k points)
+1 vote
LNAB works well for far more profiles than when it doesn't. If everyone used the LNAB and other last names as intended, it would be easy to find most people. It is very annoying to miss records because someone has arbitrarily decided what the last name really was or should be.
ago by Leandra Ford G2G6 Mach 2 (28.2k points)

Most people, I agree.

But many genealogy programs do much better. I use Legacy, and it does.

All that needs to be done is add one field, "usual name" that is searchable through any "word" it contains, a word being defined as being separated by first of field, end of field, parentheses, and space and only those. Curly braces would be prohibited.   The search would be specify using OR and AND as keywords, in expressions using curly braces as delimiters, as in  {John OR Iain} AND {McDonald OR MacDonald OR Lord} AND Isles for a certain ancestor of mine whose field would be "John MacDonald (MacDohmnialll) first (1st) Lord of the Isles".  Search would be not case sensitive except for the words AND or OR.  For non-Latin characters, transliterations would be given in parentheses in the field.

That would fix all of search.

This is not usually done because designers apparently like "things that are simple and give too many answers" rather than ones that give only the desired answer. I had numerous losing wars with Chem Abstracts database over this, as did lots of others (but at least they do have real unique identifiers for chemicals, that are searchable by chemical structure!)

Sounds a reasonable proposal to me.
Usual name provides plenty of opportunity for people to make stuff up. When someone lived before your time and you have 3 records for them if you're lucky, how do you know what their usual name is?
+2 votes
We are back to this again I see.  Bernard I'm in agreement that the whole LNAB field doesn't work, for many people around the world.

After reading a lot of the comments/answers in here, I see both sides of the "computing issues".  I also just spoke with my son who is a "coder"/website creator who builds massive sites from scratch.  He has explained a lot of the ins and outs of working on a wiki.  It's very different from "smaller websites".  wikis store every change made, and they build the pages as they are about to be seen when someone searches for one in particular, from the data that is stored.  Any small minute change that we request, requires large massive amounts of work in the coding, on a "non-operating wiki" of the wiki in question for the needed changes (if that makes sense).  So say the change of just a simple button to click for "no LNAB" can create errors throughout the system on many different levels of the pages, sorting, sending, routing, etc, thus the need to do the changes on a non-active wiki first.  Potentially depending on the numbers of coders working on the needed change (just one change) it can take 30 or more days to get the one change done and correct, and still there could be massive unexpected errors that just weren't foreseen during the new change-build.

I still think the LNAB field should never have been mandatory.  What I find completely appauling in here is that this was brought up just last week involving Native People who don't have last names and didn't less 200 years ago.  Some in here now seem to thing an "exception" should be made for those of "Aristocracy" Notables etc.... My question is If an exception should be made for these groups, why then should this same exception not be made for Native Peoples and Other Peoples all over the world that don't have and Never did have a LNAB?

I just pulled a lot of Native records from just 1885- 1903 there are massive amounts of names, families, children births, deaths, marriages etc.... But the way the system stands.... not even half these ppl can be added to wikitree.. Because I will Not add ppl using a Tribe affiliation as their LNAB.  There are ppl in these lists who not only have no last name at birth or any other time in their lives, but there are also people who their fathers 1st name because of census takers- fathers 1st name became the last name  & they are NOT 1 word euro names.

so my next question is.... So are  "other cultures" just to say..  "I thought this was supposed to be a  whole world tree, why don't "we" fit anywhere?

Now I know ppl in here will say.. Use the Tribe as LNAB.. guess what, the records I pulled have ppl who were given the last names of things like Ojibwa/Chippewa/Oglala  ALL of these are their "assigned last names".. what will the last name do in searches now for these, assign them to the "Sioux" or the Chippewa, or the Ojibwa  Tribe Names?  BUT they were not living in those Assigned Tribe boxes...they were on other Reservations.... here is where another mess begins.

sorry so long... just another viewpoint on this whole LNAB
ago by Arora Anonymous G2G6 Mach 6 (66.6k points)

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