Are there any ongoing discussions about entering estimated dates?

+4 votes
I've been on Wikitree for a few months now and love it, but have some concerns about the way some information is being entered. I've searched for discussions on the issue and found a few very old ones but nothing recent. I'm wondering if there is a thread where users are actively discussing the issues of using estimated birth dates and places. And who are the individuals who are responsible for changing the way the site works? How do you make suggestions directly to these people?
in Policy and Style by Bill Teschek G2G Crew (720 points)
Short answer is no, there is not an ongoing discussion about how to make a notation ref to estimated dates.  It is not a major concern so long as the either the template is used or notation is made in the profile -- the template and information mentioned by the other participants covers the current status.

5 Answers

+6 votes
Best answer

I'm not sure what your concerns are, but there have been a couple of posts made this year about dates. I don't think there has been any recent activity in those threads though, and I don't recall any of the discussion being on estimated places.

One was about "before" and "after" -- they had an example about how evidence suggested that a person died before a certain date, but another source said he died after that date. So the person wanted a "maybe before" option.

I think a request for "between" dates came up recently too.

If you have suggestions, starting a conversation in G2G is the way to go. The WikiTree Team (those who are "responsible for changing the way the site works") do try to read and participate in discussions. 

by Jamie Nelson G2G6 Pilot (442k points)
selected by Eowyn Walker
+4 votes
by Susan Smith G2G6 Pilot (581k points)
Thanks, but I'm not looking for information on HOW to enter estimated dates, but for a place to discuss ways to improve the process that Wikitree uses. For example, professional genealogists estimate birth dates using the terms 'ca.' or 'say.' Wikitree only offers 'estimated/uncertain' which doesn't distinguish between a date that might be a close estimate based on census or gravestone information, vs. a date that might be a wild guess based on another date that in itself is just a wild guess. Yes, this information can (and should) all be explained in the notes, but in my limited time on this site it seems that there are far more profiles with no notes explaining estimated dates than there are those with them. Adding more specific radio buttons to the date explanations would be very helpful. Do I need to start a new discussion for this, or is one already ongoing? And who ultimately makes the decisions to change things like this?
I run into this problem frequently when creating profiles, when a good proximate date is only from a tertiary source, such as a birth date on a gravestone.  It gives a good general idea of the birth date, but since it is not contemporary with the event, it isn't "certain.'

I believe the change process is to make a proposal in G2G.  The help pages may provide more specifics on the process.  In the meantime, the Estimated Dates Template is the best solution, certainly preferred to leaving the date fields completely blank.
There are three possibilities (at least) for estimated dates:

(1) Calculated from a documented date (e.g., age at death on death certificate; marriage age on marriage record).  This is good proximate but, as you probably know, yields different results depending on the method used.

(2) Unconfirmed (found in tertiary source, but non-contemporaneous).

(3) Guesstimate (first child born ~two years after marriage, etc.)
+5 votes

This is taken from the Help page about estimated dates.  You will see that "This practice is controversial (see this G2G discussion) but the WikiTree community has decided that its benefits outweigh the costs, if done correctly."

by Ros Haywood G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
+3 votes
This is the Help page about suggesting new rules/policies/etc:
by Ros Haywood G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
Thanks, that's helpful info. But my suggestions are kind of obvious (at least to me) so I'm wondering if they have already been suggested elsewhere and I just haven't found the discussion. See my other comment above for more details about what I'd like to propose.
+4 votes
Bill, I'm not sure I totally understand what you want either, but I think I agree a little to what I think you want. I think we should un-link the "about/uncertain" button so we have an "uncertain" button and a "circa (or about)" button because they really are two different things. Then, it would be good if we could somehow link the information in the data fields to one or more of our sources. But I don't expect any of that to happen anytime soon because either of those would be a major undertaking by those who write the coding for WikiTree. Keep in mind this is a free, low-budget site, so major changes don't come quickly. And, even if those changes were possible, marking any status button or connecting a status button to a source doesn't really explain the thought process involved in determining an estimated date. The best solution for any of us is to use the biography to explain how a particular estimated date was derived and why it was placed in the data field and why a particular status button was selected. To you, it may not be the best way, but currently it is the only way.

There are many things which many WikiTreers do and don't do which "professional" or more skilled genealogists might or might not do. WikiTree is for everyone from the casual hobbyist family researcher to the professional genealogist so there are wide variations in what profiles do and don't include. If someone like you, who strives to do things like professional or more skilled genealogists, have constructive suggestions on how to improve our profiles within the current constraints of the system, G2G (this forum) is the place to share your expertise. We can always learn new ways of doing things. I'd love to see you share examples of your work so I can know how to make the profiles I manage or contribute to better.
by Nelda Spires G2G6 Pilot (434k points)

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