How to handle Wikitreers with long suggestions lists

+25 votes

I was working on the Data Doctors challenge this week and kept coming across the same profile manager.  When I looked at his page I saw he had over 700 items on the suggestions list for profiles he manages.  I thought that was a long list until I found another profile whose suggestions list is currently nearly 19,000 (yes 19,000).

Does Wikitree have a group that monitors the length of lists and actively engages with those PMs to help them understand how important it is for the quality of the WikiTree that they work on those?  If there is - who can we raise these PMs to?  I have in the past reached out to them and (hopefully tactfully) pointed out where they can find their suggestions list and where help can be found on how to resolve them but usually get no response.

If there isnt a group looking at this perhaps one should be set up?
in Policy and Style by Sarah Long G2G6 (6.1k points)

my opinions:

Just as profiles don't belong to any individual WikiTreer, the suggestions related to profiles don't belong to any individual WikiTreer.

If one feels the need to work the suggestions list for profiles managed by a fellow WikiTreer, one should first check that WikiTreer's activity level; then one should send a private and courteous message to indicate one's interest in working the suggestions for those profiles.

One should feel free to work minor suggestions immediately, but should wait a few days (3-7?) before working major suggestions.

If the profile manager objects or interferes with one's work on suggestions, one can consult the Help pages regarding problems with members to determine one's next step.

If the profile manager is unresponsive, one can file the  unresponsive profile managers form for access to locked profiles.


Whilst I don't disagree with most of what you say this is not that I "feel the need" to work suggestions lists for other wikitreers.  This is about PMs that either do not  seem aware of the suggestions list or are not interested in the quality of the profiles they create or manage. If there was more focus on personal suggestions lists then the data doctors challenges would not be necessary.

After all, the Honor Code that we all have to sign when we join Wikitree has this as the second point: "We care about accuracy. We're always aiming to improve upon our worldwide family tree and fix mistakes."

The role of the PM is  "to lead in the protection and improvement of the profile."

reply to comment "This is about PMs that either do not  seem aware of the suggestions list or are not interested in the quality of the profiles they create or manage.":

I believe the links in my comment provide the means to deal with these situations.

reply to comment: "If there was more focus on personal suggestions lists then the data doctors challenges would not be necessary.":

I believe that as profile managers, we are free to focus on the aspects of WikiTree that appeal to us and that we feel are within our abilities to handle. The suggestions list should not be viewed as a personal list. And if a profile manager doesn't want to work on suggestions, he/she should not be forced to do so. Of course, failure to assume the proper duties of a profile manager may lead to removal of one as a profile's manager. Whether or not any "data doctors challenges would be necessary" is irrelevant, in my opinion.

reply to Honor Code and role of PMs comments:

If you believe any fellow WikiTreers are breaking the Honor Code or are not exercising their roles a profile managers within WikiTree standards, your recourse is to use the links that I referenced in my initial comment.

answer to your closing opening question of 2nd paragraph in your initial post:

WikiTree membership is that group. We set the standards for our work and judge our fellow WikiTreers against those standards.

edit/correction: I incorrectly identified which question was answered in my final comment above and have made a correction.


This was a simple question about whether or not there is a group that monitors these.  I am well aware of all the ways that Wikitree has for an individual to reach out to another individual - I am not a newt.  What I was trying to ascertain was whether there was something in place that was more targeted and overseen by a group rather than relying on an individual noticing a problem and having to take it upon themselves to initiate.  

Unfortunately it seems that there isn't so I shall have to raise this elsewhere since the various answers to my question from a number of people seem to demonstrate that the honor code is looked on by a lot of people as not that important.

Fixing issues such as not having a <references /> tag should not be beyond the abilities of anyone on this platform and the quote I gave about the role of PM is from the Wikitree page directly.  Perhaps people interpret this responsibility differently but I think the wording is clear as to what the "proper duties of a profile manager" are.

For some reason questions on G2G often seem to encourage criticism of the raiser or ignoring the point that is being raised, rather than looking at the cause of the question and seeing whether something could be done to address the root cause of the potential issue that has been identified and caused the question to be raised in the first place.

Your post began with the heading "How to handle Wikitreers with long suggestions lists," and my initial comment was in response to that query.

I did not criticize you or your inquiry; if that is your interpretation, you are mistaken. I merely gave my opinions on your concerns.

Sarah, I can certainly sympathise with your feelings. Been there, done that. But I'm beginning to grasp a basic fact about WikiTree: This is a site for volunteers. You can't force people to do anything. The only thing you can force them to do, is to leave.

Sometimes, you have to mind the Serenity Prayer.

Perhaps the term "how do we handle" could be better phrased.  As Leif says, this is a site of volunteers,  and even volunteers who have "signed" the Honor Code may take exception to being "handled". 

Abilities vary, as well.  Some folk have posted to g2g in the past explaining their inability to slide down those drop-down menus due to them being unable to keep their mouse within the narrow confines of those lists.  Some have posted their lack of computer skills.  They aren't here to fix database errors, but to add what they know about their family's history to a tree that has the aim of linking everyone together to a single Tree.  Some folk have contacted me personally asking for help for the above reasons, and others, perhaps because they don't wish public criticism regards their lacking in certain areas.  I'm a Data Doctor, and I have some DBEs I may never get to correcting, because I adopted profiles that now fall under certain DBE criteria. I am perfectly happy for someone else to come along and correct those DBEs.  (I have had people correct "minor" typing errors that I somehow overlooked, despite twice, or thrice proofreading.) 

Let each work within their abilities, and if their ability is to add biographical details to the profiles they create and/or manage, let them do that and leave the error fixing to those who may better know how.

Edited to correct a minor letter transposition.

I hope the PM wasn't me....

I try NOT to change the formatting of another PM's work, but will add sources, and clean up the language of any one that I run across while my adding people to my particular lines of family.

I rarely have anyone reverse my additions, and in one case was able to work with a new WT/PM to get their duplicates merged, which grew THEIR tree by over 200% and added a fairly large number of people to the Stetson "cousin" line!
I wish that I'd been able to upvote Melanie's reply. It's so beautifully stated. As a native Norwegian I'm struggling with the English language, but I can certainly recognise a good  piece of it when I see one.
Yes I as well wish I could upvote Melanie's response as well. We all do work within our ability and that is great that people understand that but the comment to kick people out was very mean. We are volunteers working together and helping each other and if we see someone needing help then help don't just kick them out. And I thank many people who have helped me as I have learned wikitee and enjoy it so much.

13 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer
I like Andrea Boudreau's answer. (Forgive the lack of an accent mark; I am on my tablet.) However, I think Sarah's question is a legitimate one. I think the ultimate question is if there is a way we can raise profile managers' awareness of the "Suggestions" list. (This list was previously called the errors list, but the name was changed so as not to accuse WikiTreers of making errors.) There are plenty of discussions on G2G about "suggestions", so probably those WikiTreers who aren't aware of their suggestions list probably are not participating in G2G. Perhaps we can think of new ways to invite people to participate in G2G, for example posting invitations on their profiles.

Edited for punctuation and shortened for readability.
by Edie Kohutek G2G6 Mach 8 (86.5k points)
selected by Sarah Long
+22 votes
It may be that the person with 19,000 has chosen to have notifications of profile completeness. I currently have just over 7,000 on my list the majority are Status Not Set for Father, Mother, Birth & Death dates and locations. I also have a bunch of adopted profiles that were GEDcom imports without dates - I am slowly working through those.
by Emily Holmberg G2G6 Pilot (126k points)

Emily, does this profile completeness notification include such things as telling me I don't have the location entered or there's an imprecise date ? 

Most of the suggestions I get are over discrepancies, sometimes utterly trivial, with what's on Wikidata and FindAGrave. Neither site is authoritative. Sometimes they're right, many times they're wrong, and it's tedious to explore and resolve the differences.

So, while subscribing wholeheartedly to the principle that we aim for maximum achievable accuracy, in practice it's hard to get excited over such things as dates a few days apart, which might be the gap between birth and baptism or death and burial, and separate places which might again be those of birth and baptism or death and burial.

I know I ought to spend some rainy afternoons trimming the list but .........

Susan, those sound like the FindAGrave suggestions where the information on the profile is compared to what a linked memorial has for locations and dates. 

The profile completeness are numbers 454 - 467, from one of the Data Doctors Project Pages:  "Managed profiles are checked for data completeness when the category Suggestions - Include Profile Completeness has been added to your own profile.

These suggestions are “warnings” generated weekly for the Suggestions Reports. Note that there may be a significant jump in the number of suggestions
for the profiles you manage, and you may opt-out from receiving these reports anytime by removing the category from your profile

Checks include short biography (<500 words), some of the status buttons, and some errors in country names, etc.
I appreciate that there are suggestions in the lists that there is not a consensus on whether or not they should even be there (having read many discussion threads on the findagrave and wikidata suggestions for example) but my point here is that these are "genuine" issues.  The Data Doctors challenge this week is around the references tags so if these are not sorted then the sources do not appear/appear correctly.  Both the PMs that I noticed were because they had SO many ref data tag issues.  Where the suggestions are due to a wikidata or findagrave discrepancy and you are confident the information on your profile is accurate and sourced then it only takes a second to set the suggestion to false so it doesnt appear any more.

Anyone who works on these challenges or on DD or simply on county suggestions lists in general spend a great deal of time and energy working on these. As PM, while not owning the profile I feel that I have a certain level of responsibility for that profile especially if I created it in the first place.  I PM about 3,000 profiles at the moment but check my suggestions list every few days and currently have only 7 outstanding to sort out.  I see that as my job - to make sure the information on those profiles is as good as I can make it.  I just find it very disheartening that this doesnt seem to be encouraged as best practice where you PM a profile.  Maybe it is because in my day job data is critical and needs to be accurate that I find this frustrating.

However the question remains - is there any group that works with PMs to help manage their suggestions list?  It should not be difficult to be able to identify those PMs with high error lists excluding those where as a community we do not agree on their usefulness.  I also think more of this should be covered when signing up or when doing the Orphan trail for example as I don't remember it being mentioned (other than in passing) when I did the trail.

If PMs could be encouraged to work on their suggestions that would free up other people to focus on truly value-add investigations such as connecting unconnected profiles, or finding names for "Unknowns".

And FYI the person with 19K suggestions - having had a look at the list there are large numbers with empty ref tags, dates on profiles being wrong (too young or not born for attached child, multiple duplicated lines, GEDCOM junk, empty profiles etc.  I would not have raised the question in the first place if these were simply all findagrave but this is just an illustration of a common problem where the same PM comes up over and over again on a DD challenge.

Emily, after four attempts to locate the check mark box or clicker thingie for BEING notified about Profile Completeness, and failing to locate it four times, I give up.  I will have to rely on periodic sweeps of my watchlist to attend to details

Susan, the way to get the profile completeness suggestions is to add the Category:Suggestions - Include Profile Completeness to your own profile. The next time the suggestion report is run you will see them for the profiles you manage.
I added this a while back, and went from under 100 to over 20,000 suggestions. I'm on fence about keeping it there as it floods your suggestions and you can no longer get to other deeper suggestions as most of the WikiTree+  queries stop at 500 suggestions. I may remove it temporarily to get to those deeper suggestions back.

Be careful what you ask for one this when you activate this feature. It's not for everyone.

Well, Marty, others, laughI don't "do" inline, I don't "do" gedcom, I don't "do" profile completeness (which DOES mean I "do" a periodic sweep of my watch list to "catch" things), I don't "do" WT x nor WT +, and I don't "do" DNA nor images posted -- AND by consequence I avoid a lot of difficulty  

I have read G2G for several years, and so I KNOW all those are sources of difficulty ... not that I don't have ANY difficulty, I have plenty just within my limited WT repertoire --  I will now locate a piece of wood and knock on it ... 


Very interesting note:  I was cleaning up my Suggestions list when I noticed that I had a long list of suggestions based on profile completeness.  Not having added that category to my profile page, I was perplexed.  I checked my profile page -- I was correct.  It is not there.  So why are all of these suggestions basesd on profile completeness showing up on my Suggestions list? And how do I get rid of them?
Most likely those are for profiles where you aren’t the only manger and the other profile manager has added the category. You can help clear them or ignore and the other manager will get to them.

The majority are for things that can be easily set like status of birth or death date / location.
You are right! I went back and checked and I do share those profiles with other profile managers.
+24 votes
Either I care enough to do it, or I don't. No amount of engaging (nagging) will get the work done. Could cause a lot of ill feeling. Grandma used to advise "Be grateful for the things people do" and "if you really want something doing then do it yourself". My advice is "hands off".
by C. Mackinnon G2G6 Pilot (294k points)
edited by C. Mackinnon
+13 votes
I have 111 suggestions. 99 of those suggestions are for possible mother or possible father based on FindAGrave or WikiData. I cannot act on these suggestions without checking sources and doing more research. I agree with Emily and C. I am also slowly working through the suggestions.
by A. Creighton G2G6 Pilot (773k points)
Anne, if you mean those Suggestion in the BLUE, you CAN ignore those, they're comparing WT with FG, and as with any material we find, we need to verify its validity and accuracy. BUT the ones in BLUE don't require "fixing"
Susan, the Suggestions that Anne mentioned are also 'brand new' suggestions, which could take some time to research.  Those should not be 'ignored', as you stated, or marked 'False Suggestions'.  Just have to find the time to go through that group of suggestions, when time is found.

This post is about some PMs that are not clearing any of their suggestions on a regular basis.

so, Linda, the posts that Ales worked up, the ones that compare the Wikitree profiles with the FaG memorials and which are in the blue patches, which I was told I could ignore if I chose to do so

They are suggestions of a possibility of a relationship between any two people, and they can be ignored if we do not choose to explore them 

They are not notification of errors -- and so do not need to be addressed. That's what I was told, here, in G2G

agreed, but as was also discussed, what most of us have found is that many of us have found the name of the child was already mentioned in the parents wikitree profiles and / or the parents were mentioned in the children's profiles.  If the parents and children are not mentioned already in the profiles with sources, then yes, those would take a little more researching, but many are for people whose profiles had just not been searched for on wikitree and could be connected, like was done during the connect a thon.
+19 votes
I spent the best part of an hour yesterday looking at "unique name" suggestions in first names, last names, other last names and nicknames. All of the suggestions were for profiles where the unique spelling had come directly from the original image of the parish records and censuses. None of them were mistypes. I feel it is a total waste of my time.
by Gillian Causier G2G6 Pilot (263k points)
But sometimes, those unique names are because of typo errors, when information was added.  I saw a profile yesterday where William was spelled incorrectly, so I sent a note to the PM to check on it, since there were not sources attached. Spelling errors will cause duplicates to be created because the original profile wasn't found, which is probably why the Unique names suggestions were added.  I agree that many / most of the unique name suggestions are because of the 'Names' whether first or last, are seen in sources, so they should be included on profiles.
I was one of the members who originally encouraged the Unique Names error, due to seeing names that were almost certainly errors in transcribing or typing a common first name.

However, in my opinion, it was not  a good idea to extend this error to the last names field. It has been a particular waste of my time to be expected to mark False Suggestion on the LNABs of numerous project-protected profiles. There are reasons why those unusual names were project-protected!!!
Also, if the spelling error is very common it won't be caught by statistics.
I've got 48 cases of "797 Unique name in Other Last Names" but I fail to see what the problem is. Those are mostly what we call "Farm names", used to tell one Ole Olsen from the others, and quite a few of them are referring to tiny cotter's places.
+10 votes
Mine is really long because unbeknownst to me a cemetery free page template was changed.  Shrug.  I'll get around to it when I have time.
by Joelle Colville-Hanson G2G6 Pilot (132k points)
I was working through a bunch of those profiles also last week.  there are quite a few templates that they fixed up all the template pages and then Ales must have updated his suggestions to check for all of those.
Linda, when a template is changed, couldn't Editbot fix it?   Everyone spending time manually correcting something like this seems a waste compared to all the other needs we have that really require human intervention.
I suspect that edit bot could do some things, if Ales was asked.  I know he posted a while back that he had it fix some things.  It probably has to a case by case.  On the global cemeteries template, It might be something that could be automated because the sub isn't being placed in some other place.  I have found though that some of those profiles didn't have the find a grave reference or anything else in the profile stating what cemetery they were in, so it was a good time to be checking for that, which automated wouldn't do.
As a member of the Cemetery project who uses the stickers for profiles related to my Cemetery Free Pages I can assure you that ALL the profiles related to those pages are very well sourced and filled out.

I also go through my Watch List on a regular basis to double check and update ALL of my profiles.  All I need from Editbot on MY profiles is to have the cemetery template updated
In correcting some of the Cemetery Suggestions for CT, I found some profiles with the template that did not have any mention of the Cemetery in the biography and didn't have the Find a Grave citation, so I added the information to the profiles that were missing it and including it in the comment.  Sometimes, there was just a Find a Grave url, so I added the entire Find a Grave citation, which is the preferred source.
Looks like EditBot *is* making the cemetery template corrections. I am most grateful.
I corrected a lot of Suggestions for the cemetery template this week, so maybe Editbot has been updated, which would be great.
+9 votes
I went from 1 or 2 suggestions to over 11,000 when Ales added in the optional Profile completeness ones.  These target things like the saus buttons not being selected.  So one profile can have 5 or more suggestions like that.    These are optional for a PM to even turn on.  I expected to see a large number but no way did I imagine seeing over 11,000. It is down to under 8900 and I continue to work on them.

Data Doctors are aware of this.  The Data Doctor Project does track and work on problems as found by the suggestions Ales runs.  

Someone who has 2000 profiles, with 5 status buttons turned off will show 10,000 suggestions.   It is not the number that is important it is the severity of the suggestions that are important.  

Hope that helps!
by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (714k points)
+12 votes
There is a huge difference between suggestions and errors.

I still have 100s of pages of good documentation to add to wiki and that is a better use of my time than checking out if suggestions are correct or not. I always correct the errors when I can,

I would love to have separate pages for them--frustrating never getting down to zero. Every time I am almost there along comes a long suggestion list based on what is not always reliable sources. If it was only my ancestors fine but i work on a one name study and clan,

Many suggestions come from not so always reliable sources.

Suggestions from find a grave etc are at the bottom of my list, unless they disagree with dates etc that I have on the profile,

I have had people change correct information on profiles to wrong data from these suggestion lists. This can happen when people rely on the suggestion list as being correct and the profile information is wrong. I know when my great grandmother was born and died...who ever put up a memorial years later didn't.
by Jean Skar G2G6 Mach 1 (18.5k points)
+18 votes
Did we ever think that maybe the person with 19000 suggestion had 21000 last month and he's working on them as fast as possible; but you know, at those numbers, it doesn't seem to move along?

I know I have a suggestion list about a mile long, thanks to the gedcom I uploaded when I joined a few years back. I work on them when I can, been doing so for years, and at the same time, adding more profiles (that are suggestion free).

All and all, it takes time and I'm sure most people don't intentionally NOT work on their list. It's so daunting work and there's also life that gets in the way too. Lets not forget that.
by Andréa Boudreau G2G6 Mach 5 (58.1k points)
+10 votes
May I suggest you offer to help them.
by David Wilson G2G6 Pilot (109k points)
+10 votes
I just checked my suggestion list to find it FILLED with suggestions from Find A Grave for possible matches to parents.  This is worse than Ancestry's pop up leaves and is a total waste of time to have to go through each Find A Grave  parent suggestion and says its wrong!  My suggestion list may stay long because of items like this on my list.  I have better things to do on WikiTree than go through suggestion list created by Find A Grave possibilities when Find A Grave is notorious for its errors!
by Carol Wilder G2G6 Mach 6 (60.5k points)
edited by Carol Wilder
Exactly. And the bogus FindAGrave suggestions are now joined by bogus unique spelling suggestions and bogus WikiData suggestions. I used to religiously go through my suggestion list every Tuesday and resolve all the issues. Now with all the nonsense that fills it, I rarely look at it. I have better things to do with my WikiTree time.
I like the parent and child suggestions. I usually research and list children on a profile anyway. I just don’t always feel like adding them all. To find a child already on WikiTree is helpful. Of course I have more than FindAGrave to go on but so far all of the suggestions have been correct.
+6 votes
Hi Sarah

I feel you have to be very careful about how this is presented. WikiTree members are sometimes just interested in putting what they know or yes sometimes what they think they know on the site.

I am a somewhat obsessed family historian. My family has been researched for 50+ years. I can easily spend 8-10 hours daily researching if and when I have the time available. However we all have lives outside WikiTree and many times those other commitments require a lot of time and we don't have a choice regarding those other commitments.

I hope that I remember to make sure that all the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed. Sometimes I forget to to check off the confidence level for profiles I manage. Or my sources are not always comprehensive.

When I joined in 2019 there were a lot of 'things' I didn't know I should have been doing, and as I go back through profiles I correct as needed. Sometimes suggestions are correct ,sometimes they aren't, unique names can be a problem especially if they are not 'English'.

Almost always profiles are a work in progress.
by M Ross G2G6 Pilot (441k points)
+3 votes
I think, especially given the new errors and suggestions that continuously pop up, that it would be useful to send an email to a profile manager with a link to the suggestion list--maybe once a month.  I've noticed that I never see some suggestions because they aren't associated with *my profile*, but with a profile I manage.  I've always thought suggestions should be emailed to us.
by J. Crook G2G6 Pilot (209k points)
Isn't the suggestions list part of the activity feed that is e-mailed every Wednesday morning?
No, it isn't.  It is under the MY WIKITREE tab - scroll to Suggestions.  It is there all the time.  You can click on a link in the list to get suggestions for all profiles you manage.
Yes, I know where to find it on my WikiTree, I thought I had also seen it on the Wednesday email, I could easily be wrong.

The answer above asked if an email could be sent with a link to the list.
Because the list is readily available to every WikiTree member under their "My WitiTree" tab, there really is no reason to email the list to members.

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