Do these pages fairly represent our policies on Wikidata and Find A Grave? [closed]

+37 votes

Hi WikiTreers,

A few weeks ago we had a conversation  about a new help page on using WikiTree+ suggestions, particularly the Wikidata and Find A Grave hints since those have been controversial in our community. Wikidata and Find A Grave, like WikiTree, contain user-generated and collated data from third-party sources, so they're not uniformly reliable.

After that feedback and with help from Sheryl Moore, Azure Robinson, Jo Fitz-Henry, and Steven Harris I changed things around so that Help:Suggestion_Types summarizes the suggestion types and links to Help:Wikidata and Help:Find_A_Grave.

No new policies are being intentionally proposed here. These pages are meant to clearly and fairly explain our current policies. Do they? Would you make suggestions for clarification, or am I mistaken about our current policies?

If you want to propose a policy change it would be good if you post a new G2G message and link to it with a short comment. I'd like to focus the current discussion on whether we're correctly explaining our current policies.



closed with the note: Pages finalized
in The Tree House by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
closed by Chris Whitten

After the input here and some minor tweaks, I think it's safe to say that these pages fairly represent our policies and close the discussion for now.

However, there is something new. Ales is implementing a solution that enables you to permanently dismiss and prevent all hints based a bad connection between a WikiTree profile and a Wikidata item and Find A Grave memorial: sameas=no in the link template. See "How do you permanently dismiss hints based on incorrect Wikidata or Find A Grave connections?"

13 Answers

+19 votes
Wonderful explanation for those of us that have been concerned about the relationship between these sites and WikiTree.   

The last 4 paragraphs on the WikiData page should become a mantra for all of us!
by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (751k points)
+33 votes
Chris, thanks for doing this. It's great to have a help page about FindAGrave to point folks to. Might I suggest a #3 for underneath "Generally speaking..."?

3. the grave marker may have been placed long after the death by descendants and therefore the text on it may be inaccurate [or something like this]

(actually I'd place the above between current #1 and #2)

For usage on pre-1700, can you please change "very few of these profiles" to "very few of these memorials" ?  (That way "memorials" are what we find on Find A Grave; "profiles" are what we find on WikiTree.)

Thanks again!
by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (816k points)
Done. Thanks, Jillaine.
I agree with Jillaine's comment as I've seen too many death dates on tombstone be incorrect because the tombstone was placed on the grave years after the fact. The same caution given about inaccurate birth dates needs to be added about death dates.
+10 votes
Great clarification. Is there a similar policy/page for
by Peter Geary G2G6 Mach 4 (48.1k points)
OMG yes.. this!!

Hi Peter.

You might consider a free-space page, as a start. If there are controversial issues that need to be discussed in the community, see

Once the policies regarding the site's usage are agreed-upon we could create a formal help page describing the policies.

+5 votes

This is a great help, although I confess I'm still a little confused on the WikiData father/mother suggestions.  The names makes sense but they are very similar.   It seems there a three buckets that you're trying to compare.  WikiTree, Wikidata, WikiTree data on Wikidata.  This is what I did trying to make sure I understood.  (Not sure I got it right (or if this cut & paste of a table into g2g will work.

Suggestion WikiTree WikiData WikiTree Data on WikiTree
Possible Parent or Spouse on WikiData Both Profiles exist
Relationship exists
Both Profiles (People)
Relationship exists
Both People exist
relationship is missing
Possible father and Possible mother Both Profiles exist
Relationship does not
Both Profiles (People)
Relationship exists
Both Profiles exist
Relationship does not
Clue for father or mother Chld profile exists and has no connected parent.
Possible parent profile does not exist (or is not linked to wikidata)

No father/mother relationship exists
Both Profiles (People)

Relationship exists
Only profile for child exists.

No father/mother relationship

by M Cole G2G6 Mach 4 (45.5k points)
I don't think the third column in the table is helpful, it's actually more confusing. There is data on both sides, and when WikiData doesn't match to WikiTree, a suggestion is generated.

What is there is just a suggestion, and has to be investigated. Working the suggestion tells the system to ignore it until the next check, mark it as a false suggestion (never to come again) or say you fixed it.
I found it helpful to understand that there was specific place in WikiData where WikiTree's information is recorded and that its not just a matter of syncing ID's.

Perhaps this will clarify my confusion:

I've looked at a number of the Possible Father on WikiData suggestions for PGM.  Some of these make sense.  I can see that the father and child match, but that the father's Wikidata does not have a WikiTree ID.  So, I can add the template to the WT profile, mark it corrected and call it a day.

Some of these, when I looked at them, WikiTree & Wikidata appear to be the same.  They are attached as father and child in WikiTree, and attached as Father and child in Wikidata.  Both records in Wikidata already have the corresponding WikiTree ID.

My initial thought is...the relationship is correct, but its still a false error because the system has incorrectly identified an error in records which already match.

The difference seems to be that that WikiTree data in Wikidata doesn't reference the relationship.  So, if I add the template, will this solve that issue, or is this indeed a false error.

About Possible Father on WikiData:

This week I added a lot (over 10000) of WikiTreeIDs to wikidata. That might be a reason that some of them already have wikitreeID on both profiles. If both wikidata items have wikitreeID, check the history on wikidata. It was probably added after sunday.

Ah, that's it.  So suggestions like these should clear next week without any further action?

Also, a related question: Many of the parent child relationships are false, but the parent still has a WikiTree profile (just not connected to the child).  Should I still add the Wikidata template?

Wikidata template can be always added to the profile. It helps to come to more info about the person and has links to other sources.

But I don't understand what you mean by "Many of the parent child relationships are false"


Wikidata says Henry Smith of London was the father of John Smith of Salem.  Both Henry Smith and John Smith are real people with profiles on WikiTree. But on WikiTree we have disconnected Henry as the father because the relationship has been disproven.
It is ok to leave WikiTree-WikiData connection. Disputed relation is probably mentioned in the profile. Just mark the suggestion as false one.

There is also a way to dispute a parent on wikidata but I am not completely sure how.
And I guess then, its also okay to add the connection.
If the parent connection was disproven, then it is not ok to add it to wikitree.
Not to WikiTree.  I mean adding the WikiTree ID to WikiData. The profile is already in WikiTree, just not as a parent.  All the other data matches.

Sorry, I'm think of Clue for Father.

For example:

Hidden suggestion on .

WikiData suggests his father Edmond Bartlett.  He has been discussed as a possible but unproven father.  But he has a profile:

For that suggestion it is completely different.

If there is existing profile, you should add a WT-WD link. That will cause a possible father suggestion next week and you should mark that one as false suggestion.
Great.  thank you for answering all my questions!! Sorry, I got confused.
+9 votes

on the Wikidata page: "and is generally considered unreliable by project members", would be nice to have a link to a discussion about this, or something on the project pages explaining why? Not doubting it, but it does prompt questions. 

Also, suggest you bump the note about the FindAGrave acronym up, not to the top item but maybe 2nd. Get people's attention before they lose interest and stop reading.

by Jonathan Crawford G2G6 Pilot (201k points)
+9 votes
Thank you for this Chris, and for putting a link to the new Wikidata help page above the section for Wikidata suggestions on the DBE.

On the Suggestions List for the England Project (WikiTree-57), the page starts with announcing that Errors are colour coded by a red background.

Then 30 of the 70 England Project Wikidata "suggestions" are colour coded red as though our data on the WikiTree profiles are wrong when they are just at variance with the Wikidata values.

Can there be a different colour  (such as the presently un-defined blue in the DBE list) for comparisons outside the WikiTree dataset such as Wikidata and Find A Grave?
by Jo Fitz-Henry G2G6 Pilot (127k points)
I agree and have the same issues. Suggestions like "Wikidata different birth date" and "Wikidata different death date" for instance, are color-coded pink like serious errors, when they should only be taken as suggestions that the dates may need to be checked (or commented to avoid the propagation of errors).

Jo, it was on Ales's to-do list to make these all blue, but I'm not sure if he's done it yet.

Great, thank you.
+11 votes
I wish the Find A Grave help page didn't provide an example of using the link template as a stand a lone object.

This is not a proper citation and all too often, folks misuse the link template, edit profiles with proper citations, deleting the proper Find A Grave citation and replacing it with the link template.

Now that Find A Grave provides a somewhat EE friendly citation on every memorial that folks can copy/paste that don't know how to cite, we should encourage everyone to only use the link template for what it is, a link to the memorial only.

It doesn't take any more time to create the link template on a profile, then to copy/paste the citation from the memorial and add the link template in the citation as also shown on the help page.

The same could be said for the WikiData link template. If it's being referenced as a source for the profile, we should be providing a citation, not just adding a link to the page.

I get everyone doesn't know how to cite a source, nor does everyone want to, but we can help by writing guides that encourage citations rather than copy/pasting URLs in profiles.
by Allison Mackler G2G6 Mach 5 (56.9k points)

Allison, I agree that just adding the template seems odd in the source section.  I just added one, and the person doesn't have a Wikipedia page so it looks like a broken link.  I remember coming across one of these myself awhile ago, and not knowing what it was, wondering if it should be deleted.

If the main purpose is to provide a system link to Wikidata and not really as source, perhaps it needs to be in its own section.  (But that probably falls under the new proposal category.

The external link templates should only be used by themselves in a "see also" section for links, not when used as a source citation. If that's not clear on the help pages let me know. Suggested wording is appreciated. Thanks!

Chris, I don't think that this is really clear, as much of the guidance is to just use the link templates, in general, as a easy way to "cite the source."

I don't have an answer for how to fix the issue where replacing citations with the link templates is so pervasive. And using them as a citation shows up as answers on G2G and in the DD email group every day.

This is an issue for Find A Grave, Ancestry, Wikidata and any other link template promoted to cite sources.

Maybe this part on the various link template help pages needs to stand out more, instead of just text. Something at the top of each page, highlighted in a box, bolded, red, stating it is not used to replace a citation. Maybe adding a reminder of the WT citation preference with a link to the guidance about citing sources. I'm not sure, but a clear, obvious statement that could be referred to and easy to see and not missed, might really help.

If the Find A Grave memorial is not being cited in a source citation, include it in a "See also" section below the sources, like this:

== Sources ==
<references />
See also:
* {{FindAGrave|1234}}
+10 votes
I would add on the Find A Grave comments that even though there is a photo of the tombstone both the date of birth and date of death may not be correct.  Tombstones are sometimes placed on graves years after the burial of the individual, and the exact dates of birth and death may not have be remembered correctly when the tombstone was ordered.  I have an ancestor whose tombstone gives her date of death as being three years after the second marriage of her husband.  There are no records of the couple separating or divorcing, and she is buried next to her husband.  Her tombstone is identical to the tombstone of her husband who is buried next to her - my belief is a tombstone was not placed on her grave until the death of her husband years later.  I believe the tombstones purchased for her and her husband were purchased at the same time as both are identical and show the same amount of age and weathering.  Because of the length of time that had elapsed between her death and the death of her husband the person having the tombstones created did not remember the exact date of her death.
by Carol Wilder G2G6 Mach 5 (59.9k points)
Moving comment to correct answer.
Hi Carol. We added the suggested wording on this from Jillaine above. If that's not clear reply here. Thanks!
+8 votes
A suggested addition to the warnings for FindAGrave:

Photos of gravesites do get added to the wrong cemetery at FindAGrave.

The headstone may be or include a cenotaph.
by Living Ford G2G6 Pilot (147k points)
Unfortunately, the Find a Grave page doesn't always indicate that it is a cenotaph.  Some do, but not always, so it would be good include both pages, if there are 2 found.
+5 votes

On the Template:FindAGrave, it is 'explaining' the usage of the template requirement, as the other template pages have, but the 'See Help:Find A Grave'  at the top of the page would be more helpful if it was in Red or something else to make it stand out more. Possibly the wording should be changed to state 'How to use the template in the source citation for Find A Grave'

On the Help:Find_A_Grave page, there are a few things that should be updated.

  • The source citation from Find A Grave has changed and should be reflected on that page.  The 'a' between Find and Grave is not capitalized as stated on the Help page.  The incorrect spelling / reference is used in multiple places. It should be shown correctly so people will hopefully change it to capital 'A' for the template.
  • there is no mention of removing the ' :' ahead of the words 'accessed',although it was removed in the example shown and it is recommended because it does not link to the specific page.
  • Something should be stated that the Ancestry and family search citations should not be used because they are not giving the citation from Find A Grave with all of the information, or at least that the Find A Grave source citation is preferred because of more information. 
The section 'Linking to Find A Grave from WikiTree' has only the {{FindAGrave}} without the parameter for the Memorial ID, which will cause a Suggestion because of no ID being included. That reference should be {{FindAGrave|nnnnn}}, explaining that the nnnn refers to the Memorial ID, and stating that it should be used in conjunction with the 'full source citation' from Find A Grave, not the 'smaller' references from the other sites. 
I agree that the 'Example' immediately under Basic Links should show the 'full source citation' from Find A Grave, not just the template. Maybe the Basic Links section should not be included since it should be the full citation, not just the template alone. 
In the notes about things that can be included in brackets, it is helpful if something is added to the citation to indicate that Gravestone pictures are available, which many of us add to the citation, not necessarily with Brackets, but it also refers back to the earlier part about use of Grave pages with Photos is more valuable 'generally speaking'. There is nothing on the page about doing that, so that could be added in that section.
For acronym, maybe using just 'Grave' is useful.
by Linda Peterson G2G6 Pilot (623k points)
+8 votes

I really appreciate the Help:FindAGrave information. For the past several months, I have become more cautious when using/review this as a 'source.' One activity that has helped me a great deal is participating with DataDoctors! When I checked my profiles, a majority of the problems were relevant to FindAGrave! I am now going back and checking each of these discrepancies (poco a poco as this is very time consuming). 

As I review each one, I now also take the time to send comments to each of the particular FindAGrave sources that are incorrect. I actually had a pay off! Just recently, I discovered a couple (one is a descendant from a Cornwall family ancestor) in which their birth years were reversed (wife had his; husband had hers), including on their grave marker! This speaks to a comment made by Carol Wilder. 

The pay off: I received an email that the years were changed, at least on the write up. I doubt the the change will or can occur on the headstone given cost, but the write up is now corrected. It does take time from sourcing and so forth when doing profiles, but correcting 'in the moment' helps us all (as well as DataDoctors). Here is the response


This is an automated email letting you know that your recent edit for the William James Barningham (1851 - 1921) Find A Grave memorial has been accepted.
Link to updated memorial:

Thanks for your input,
Find A Grave

by Carol Baldwin G2G6 Pilot (703k points)
+4 votes

I wonder if we should distinguish even more explicitly between (a) photographs of memorial inscriptions, which are an authentic source even if some of the information intentionally or not is false, and (b) user-generated material on the Find A Grave site, which may be both sourced and accurate or may be neither? Also, should we note that a memorial inscription may be thousands of kilometers away from where the body was laid?

by Living Flower G2G6 Mach 1 (12.2k points)
+3 votes
Both pages are very good in their descriptions and explanations as well as connections to current suggestion pages - we will link both pages as "required reading" on the suggestion pages revisions for WikiData and FindAGrave.

There has been much discussion of the FindAGrave abbreviation off WikiTree as well as in G2G.

There is an abbreviation being promoted off WikiTree and discussed in the FindAGrave community, that being:

FAM - Find a Memorial.

Perhaps this is what we can use as they are memorials on FindAGrave that contain photos of the tombstones  and other user-generated information as a memorial to the deceased.

Thank you for taking the time to craft such informative pages!
by Sheryl Moore G2G6 Pilot (141k points)

Thanks, Sheryl!

I added a mention of FAM to

If that were ever to become officially recommended by Find A Grave drop me a note. It would be great if we could defer to their own recommendation.

Related questions

+7 votes
6 answers
+14 votes
2 answers
270 views asked Jun 13, 2017 in WikiTree Tech by Living Sälgö G2G6 Pilot (275k points)
+6 votes
3 answers
+8 votes
1 answer
+6 votes
2 answers
157 views asked Sep 30, 2021 in Genealogy Help by Liz Shifflett G2G6 Pilot (527k points)
+5 votes
3 answers
169 views asked Aug 18, 2021 in WikiTree Tech by Chris Little G2G6 Mach 3 (39.4k points)

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright