Did you see our new Discussion Rules? Any problems or questions? [closed]

+40 votes

Hi WikiTreers,

These rules for G2G discussions and profile comments are now official: Help:Discussion_Rules.

If you're interested in how they were developed, click here.

We are now in a two-month trial period, ending in mid-October. During this period the rules should be respected just like any other community rules. The consequences for ignoring them are the same. But during this period we want to continue the conversation, especially about how to apply and enforce the rules. The recommendations on Help:Application_of_Discussion_Rules aren't fully developed.

In mid-October we will start a new conversation about whether the rules have been helping or hurting our community and whether the moderation has been appropriate. If there are improvements or changes that need to be made, we'll make them.

If you're having trouble applying the rules as written, please post your questions here. Please post an answer instead of a comment. Comments on this top post will be hidden after they are read once. Thanks!

Onward and upward, for our single family tree,


in The Tree House by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
closed by Chris Whitten

Update: On Monday, October 19, I'll close this and post a new thread for discussing finalization of the rules and application procedures. If you have feedback you want to give now you are still welcome to post an answer below.

6 Answers

+13 votes
Looks good Chris, the only thing that is a bit of a problem is the 3 comments an hour, although the chat system in G2G may not have been designed to work in real time like commercial messaging systems, it often does update fast, and if there are several respondents to a question who each necessitate their own comment/clarification, one can go beyond 3 answers very quickly.
by Danielle Liard G2G6 Pilot (688k points)

The "only 3 posts in an hour" was draft the first.

Draft  the second, and this current edition, says (the bolded red is my highlight) :

If there is any chance that a discussion may become heated (even though you yourself do not feel emotional about it) slow things down with the three-message guideline: don't post more than three separate responses within one hour.


My understanding of this point as the same as others I saw post regarding the 3 post restriction - it (now) only applies if things are not happy and cheerful, helpful and assistative; but are argumentative and unhappy, dyspepsia-causing and unpleasant.

If this understanding is not the case, then g2g will be missing more posters than those who already departed. 

"may become heated" is also a very subjective expression. What someone feels at heated is for another a strong discussion, but still a discussion about things.

the provision of ''may become heated'' is hardly applicable when you look at the end that says Three-message guideline: don't post.....  Just yesterday I dealt with a question that had multiple respondents, none of whom had gotten the correct answer, probably because they don't have access to the sources I do.  Each person got given the appropriate answer to their point, in rapid succession.  There were more than 3.

I still look at this as 3 replies to the same person, although I suppose I could be viewing this incorrectly.
it doesn't say that, which is why it poses a quandary
I think as long as the discussion remains friendly and informative, without repetition of the same arguments, it's fine.
+18 votes
I plan to avoid any first-hand experience of 'application,' through changing my G2G participation.  If successful, I won't have anything to contribute to the post-trial discussion.  So, with greatest respect, that raises a question:  During and after the trial period, how will you distinguish between successful implementation of the new rules and 'chilling effect?'  Is there a difference?

Edit to update:  Many thanks to the twenty people who voted on this answer.
by Living Tardy G2G6 Pilot (773k points)
edited by Living Tardy

Herb, I too will be on tiptoes from now on -- participation in actual discussion as in commentary (such as this) is where the disputes and disagreements arise

laughMy general position is now that I will make an answer, and very seldom make a comment, and just watch ... with practice I shall become expert at this --  

As my father was wont to say "You don't stick you head up to find out who's shooting at you." He was a very wise man. 

Same here, chilling effect for me. This is my last post in G2G. Side effect : chilling effect on my participation to WikiTree altogether. For further conversation, please use personal message.

after just finding out that someone has already been "suspended" from posting on g2g for at least a month possibly more,  i'm not sure didn't ask.how long exactly. (for what i consider normal "spats" of disagreeing adults  on g2g this has just assured it for me- that I no longer have need to participate on g2g anymore (unless specifically requested in private messgs to look at or respond to something).  There are enough ones that know all there is to know to help anyone in need on g2g, I'm not needed there. so tip-toeing my way out now.  ...for further assistance with sources, etc. contact viaprvt- messages.

*Congrats on working so hard to come up with rules,  that so many are in agreement with. (not sarcasm, really do mean itsmiley) ... as my parents would tell me... if one has nothing nice to say.. say nothing at all.

+16 votes
Well, since you asked ...

Like some other members, I have reduced my participation in G2G and am mostly sitting on the sidelines, at least for now. And I have been pondering the questions of what exactly has happened here, and what will the long-term impact be? We have a new set of rules and we are now in a two-month "trial" period. As I read it, it is the enforcement that is now on trial, not the rules themselves. If there are no violations at all, or just a few minor ones, during the two months, seems like that would constitute proof that the new rules are working. If there are dozens or hundreds of violations, that will certainly validate the need for the rules. So I'd expect the rules aren't going anywhere and will stand as now written.

Originally, we were told, we needed these rules because moderators had no specific descriptions to cite to explain why someone's behavior was inappropriate, and we didn't have very objective enforcement of perceived improprieties. But as others have noted, the rules still leave some room for interpretation, which seems like an impediment to truly objective application. And depending on which description of the trial period one reads, we will now assess how the rules are applied and enforced, whether that helps or hurts or causes new problems, and whether the "moderation" in enforcement is appropriate. I suspect the thing that's not very clear to the huddled masses (or at least to me) is how these consequences will be evaluated. No specific test plan or test criteria have been mentioned, there don't appear to be any stated, objective, evaluation criteria, and it's not obvious how "moderation" in enforcement could be measured. It seems like we have the same enforcers we've always had, who will make the same judgment calls they've always made, and who will constitute the "jury" for this trial period -- the only difference being they now have a sheet of rules to point to. In the words of Peggy Lee, "Is that all there is?" Perhaps someone can explain how naive I am about all this.

The other thing I wonder is whether there is any effort to measure or assess or mitigate the collateral damage that has resulted from this process itself, or whether there is even any interest in doing so. Has the result been worth all the ill will and stomach acid that has been generated? Is it just presumed that those who have declined to participate in G2G because we were so insensitive will now flock to the "new improved" forum and will bring more value than has been lost through those who have bailed out?
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (571k points)
Agree. Someone needs to explain what problem we are solving and what cost.
+8 votes

I have a question. Four days ago, I asked a question about  "894 Missing Required Parameter in Template Suggestions". In addition, I commented four times: three times to clarify and one time to thank people for their help. Here is the discussion: https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/1087513/894-missing-required-parameter-in-template-suggestion?show=1087513#q1087513

This never became heated. Instead, I learned a lot from the discussion. If I had done all this in an hour, would I have been in violation of the new guidelines?

by A. Creighton G2G6 Pilot (940k points)
edited by A. Creighton
Anne, check Melanie's post above, where it is in red. They changed the 3 in an hour to 'if it is getting heated'. That was a friendly discussion, so we were good!
Linda: I agree that my participation in the discussion of a few days ago should be good because it was friendly and never became heated. (Your answers have helped me a lot this summer.)

I was trying to use an example of a recent discussion. Three comments in an hour is quantifiable. I guess I worry about the fact that ultimately there would have to be a subjective interpretation to determine whether a particular discussion was or was not "heated".
+5 votes
I just would like to point to this post, hoping it will help in evaluation of the rules and the application (I do know nothing of the background/post/content, just want to record it here).

by Michel Vorenhout G2G6 Pilot (321k points)

Michel, that post can't be viewed any longer:

This question has been hidden by its author

Yes, that is part of the reason I posted the link to it here, I was kind of expecting that to happen.

I really think it should be part of the evaluation of the application of the rules (and I really want to stay out of the contents of that post, sorry for being vague, It was not my post and I have nothing to do with hiding it).
Michel, I understand
The risk of being vague.

The post I want to be included in this review is from someone that closed their own account after at least one post of this person was hidden due to "breaking rule 5" in the thread Isabelle refers to; indeed a very sensitive discussion thread.

Please, respect everyone's privacy and do not add more to my answer. I really want this to lead to a constructive evaluation of the application of the rules without pointing any finger whatsoever.
+6 votes

Right after these rules were proposed, I noticed a few new members make comments on a profile. They weren't aware of this discussion on the G2G nor the new rules being implemented. Their comments were flagged and they were assigned a mentor. However, before they could be mentored and before anyone had told them what was wrong with the comments they made (i.e. discussion rules violation) they were banned and their accounts deleted by another leader. All of this transpired within a day of the comments being flagged.

I would say that in reality new rules won't work if the leadership does not afford someone time to understand what they had done wrong and afford them the opportunity to make corrections in their discussions with others. Mentorship seemed like a good way for that to be done, especially where new members are involved since they may not be aware of all pages on policies and rules (currently they are not all linked to the Honor Code page and are difficult to locate if you're not searching for them).

Perhaps add a training guide that is available to leaders that gives them steps to use when honor code discussion rule violations occur?

Step 1. Reach out to the offender and explain why their comment was an honor code discussion rule violation . Let them know comments like that won't be tolerated.

Step 2. Assign a mentor and explain that all further comments will be monitored for violations

Step 3. ban the individual

I think if people were aware of the consequences for violating the discussion rules and were aware of what in their comments made up the violation it would go a long way to helping be more collaborative. Sometimes what may not seem like a violation to one person is a massive violation to another and simply having a discussion could help put that into perspective.

by Pattie Plummer-Everett G2G6 Mach 1 (14.0k points)
edited by Pattie Plummer-Everett

Hi Pattie,

We have a well-established Conflict Escalation procedure. So far as I know, nobody has ever been banned from WikiTree "before they could be mentored and before anyone had told them what was wrong with the comments they made" other than spammers and a couple gross violations of the law or terms of service.

Please email info@wikitree.com with the name and details and it will be investigated.


Thank you for the reply Chris. Step one was initiated by one leader but another leader decided to remove their account. I will take your suggestion and gather all the screen shots and send it to the email you provided. I have since come to learn that the reasons for removal were not what I thought they were. The comments were in the G2G and not on a profile so I can not speak to their content. 

Does a Leader even have the authority or capability to delete an account?  I assumed it had to be done by a member of the Team.
Thank you Kerry, I am not familiar with the procedure of who can do what since I am just a member and can't see any of those details. To me a leader is just someone above the basic membership that I am at.
You guys are correct. Project Leaders have some powers beyond regular members but do not have the ability to close accounts. They can only temporarily block members.

In our conflict escalation procedure, as problems escalate they involve more and more community members. If a conflict reaches the team it is very serious and may result in account closure.

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