How does Wikitree deal with "disagreements" over an ancestral relationship?

+8 votes
164 views
Some surname lines have a brick wall ancestor.  Some genealogists assume an ancestor, and enter it without any real documentation. Others disagree, and believe another person is the missing ancestor, but can't change the entry.  This forces my ancestor under the contested ancestor. It then shows relationships  to me that I do not believe, and for which there is no proof. This must happen fairly often.  Is there a policy for this situation?  A way to put in two "weak" links?  I suspect in some cases it has forced one to enter a duplicate entry for the last known ancestor, showing either no parent, or one's preference of an unproven parent. Since the goal is "one tree", a policy for this situation seems to be needed.  

Rob Drew
in Policy and Style by Rob Drew G2G Crew (670 points)

4 Answers

+9 votes

You could try asking a Mentor for help. Mentors are experienced Wiki Genealogists who are happy to help others resolve their WikiTree problems.
https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Help:Contact_a_Mentor

Or, if things are getting heated, start with Problems with Members:
https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Help:Problems_with_Members 

by Ros Haywood G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Plenty of Help pages on this subject.  How about this one?

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Help:Resolving_a_Disagreement
+6 votes

If multiple proposed parents each have extremely weak evidence, or no evidence, then you do not have to link parents at all. You can always create links within the biography of a profile in case that evidence is too weak to feel comfortable about formally connecting the profiles using the relationship fields.

However, Wikitree policy does allow uncertain parents to be formally attached -- there is a flag that you can set to indicate that they are uncertain. One good reason for this policy is to allow Y-DNA and mtDNA information to propagate through such links in the hope that someday the propagated information can lead to new DNA-testing strategy that could confirm or refute such a link. If you want to connect very weakly supported parents for this reason, the thing to do is to indicate in the biography that the connection has been made for research purposes.

If one proposed parent has stronger sourcing than another, then the one with stronger sourcing should be attached. Of course, "stronger" is subjective, but it is rare to find substantive disagreement about this. On these rare occasions, a post to G2G will often produce new information that tilts the balance in favor of one parent, or if not, then at least give a sense of consensus about which parental claim is stronger.

So really, I think the main difficulty is not coming to consensus as a group -- eventually -- about which proposed parent has better sources. Rather, it has to do with obstinate profile managers who do not accept the evidence presented and the concensus reached. In this case, there is a formal process to resolve disagreements between members:

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Help:Problems_with_Members

by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (217k points)
+10 votes

With sources Rob, with sources.

If you have a source, your argument will beat the other's who have not.

If someone supposes parents that are unsourced, you can challenge them to produce sources.  How I do it here is to post a question, here on G2G about the profile:

Who are the parents of Joe Smith?

Then create the body of your question: Joe Smith [linked to his profile] has parents Johan Smith and Mary Smith but I don't see any sources for these parents.  Does anyone have any sources for these parents?  If not, I propose that we disconnect them as parents and note them in the research notes.

Then let the Wikitree community do its magic.  Someone may even find a source.  If not, and no one can show a good reason for the parents, you disconnect them, link them in the bio as disconnected and point to the G2G discussion.  

In the future, if someone wants to reconnect them, they need to join the G2G discussion and 'prove' the parents.

by SJ Baty G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+9 votes

Evidence is crucial to deciding these disputes. 

What evidence is there for a certain parentage? Without evidence any branch of a tree is potentially fiction.

Use the comments section to lay out the evidence. Bring the problems to G2G. There may well be other members who know nothing of your particular family but do know where to access records.

Eventually, the evidence should demonstrate which, if any, set of parents should be added. Often there is no evidence for any parentage (very common in the case of emigrants). A disputed origin  section can be added to the profile with  internal links to any unlinked parents. Here is one such profile https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Curtis-961 (Found just by searching didputed origins. There are many examples)

Sometimes the supposed link seems to be a fictitious,  a linking character . Once again if someone is unlinked, a full explanation is important. Here is an 'emigrant'  that I unlinked  from my own family history.   https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Hurst-1217 ( there was in this case only a disagreement with an imported internet tree whose pm had left, rather than a disagreement with an active person on wikitree).

Hopefully, most people are eventually happy but inevitably people can be reluctant to give up a treasured ancestral lineage. Nothing though is fixed in stone; it is always possible that new evidence will be found.

by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (340k points)
edited by Helen Ford
Thank you all for responding to my question. I should have made it clear that this link has been studied by professional genealogists several times over the years. There is absolutely NO proof for either candidate, a better argument for one, but a lot of sentiment for the other.  After reading your suggestions, I have come up with an approach I think I can sell to my cousins.  Time will tell.

Regards,

Rob

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