Should one of these become the new Public Review of Account Closures process?

+13 votes

WikiTree's process for Public Review of Account Closures was recently used for the first time. The ensuing discussion suggested that changes might be warranted, and the G2G question solicited proposals for changes. This question presents two draft versions of a revised process, developed in collaboration among several WikiTreers. One draft offers incremental changes, and the other departs significantly from the existing policy. By comparing and contrasting these two proposals with each other and with the current policy, perhaps our community can gain insight into the issues in account closure and possible ways of addressing them. Please note that these proposals only apply to Stage 7, the optional final stage of the Conflict Escalation process. Changes to other stages of the process should be proposed separately.

The Modest proposal aims mainly to reflect the process as actually applied in its first use, and incorporates changes suggested during the discussion. It differs from the current policy by

  • requiring, as much as possible, that both sides of a case be compiled before posting the review question to G2G;

  • eliminating the ambiguity about the nature of the review request by removing the option or requirement to make 'everything' public; and

  • eliminating fruitless discussion of the merits of the case, which has been finally and irrevocably decided.

This proposal has the advantages of streamlining the existing policy and clarifying its language to conform to current practice. The disadvantage of not making more extensive changes is that the former member has nothing to gain from it, so very few will ever take advantage of the opportunity. This has proven to be the case for the current policy.

The Ambitious proposal aims to develop a process for full, meaningful, member review of a case, by

  • allowing the possibility of re-opening the member's account;

  • requiring full disclosure of WikiTree records regarding the case;

  • requiring, as much as possible, that both sides of a case be compiled before posting the review question to G2G;

  • allowing full discussion of both the process and the particular case;

  • allowing the former member to participate in the discussion, submitting responses either through WikiTree Admin or through a Designated Intermediary member; and

  • providing for a Member Panel charged with deciding, after the G2G discussion, whether to reinstate the member.

The disadvantage of this version is that it could create some additional workload for WikiTree, but that would be offset by having a fairer and more participatory process for member removal.

Please express your preference by upvoting one of the answers below, and explain your reasons and offer suggestions for improvements in each answer's comment section. And of course feel free to provide answers of your own.

Many thanks!

Edit to add:  I neglected to mention that both drafts eliminate the provision that triggers a public review automatically if the former member discusses the case in a public forum outside of WikiTree. 

in Policy and Style by Living Tardy G2G6 Pilot (756k points)
edited by Living Tardy
I do not understand why anyone feels the need to downvote free discussion -- giving a totally inaccurate picture of how people are thinking.

(This is not off topic, but is addressing the ask to use upvotes AND a response to explain your reasons why the choice of a particular answer.).
Perception vs Reality.  In today's world Perception is often seen as Reality.  I fear that is happening with this discussion.  

First I want to very clearly state what I believe the Reality to be.  We have many hard working volunteers who care deeply about WikiTree and its members who act as Mentors and Mediators.  I know a number of you from working with you on projects, challenges, and other WikiTree initiatives.  I want to go on record that I feel I can trust you and your judgements.  But that is not the topic here is it?  What we have been asked to do is evaluate a process not the people who use the process.   And I think the two are being conflated to the detriment of a badly needed open and honest discussion.  

So the question should be is the process perceived as being fair?  Once again perception vs reality.  The process has to be perceived as being fair or we run the danger of trust being eroded.  

Proposal one below was a move to fix what many saw as a flaw in the process.  That is, the WikiTree side of the account closure was posted long before the version submitted by John.  This created a perception of one-sidedness and made WikiTree look unfair.  I do not think that was intentional but it was the result.  So the perception was, it was a tactical error to post WikiTree version without the John version.  Let's think of this step like a summary.  Both sides would be posted at the same time.  That is what Proposal One strives to do.  To correct a flaw in perception by requiring both sides to be published at the same time.  It also wanted to correct the perception that it was open to discussion concerning the case.  That is clearly not true as the decision was made and stated as being final.  So Proposal One also tried to clarify some of the wording so it was clear about what the discussion thread should be limited to.  

Proposal Two was more difficult because it was intended to address the perception that the process is cloaked in secrecy. Many of the comments were made by Mentors and Mediators who can see the process and see what it contains.  But please realize the rest of us do not have that view.  All we have is the option to believe everything you say.  Most people are not going to do that easily.  Not because you are dishonest but because many of us do not know all of you.  So that is asking for a huge leap of faith.  Once again this creates a perception of the possibility of unfairness hidden behind a screen of secrecy.  This created calls for more transparency.  That is what the idea of a peer review board was to do.  Take totally independent members who review the finding and recommendations of the Mentor and Mediation Process before it is moved into the Admin side for escalation to account closure.  This is well supported by business models of mediation and arbitration.  Many businesses use these in an effort to avoid the more costly step of litigation.  While mediation and arbitration are not a guard against litigation often they work.  There are standards for both and they are different.  

Because it is not feasible to post all the communications involved in the current process this would create a small number (3 or 5 perhaps) of people who would be given access to read all the files.  These could be members who are not leaders, not part of management structure of WikiTree in any way who volunteer to be members who can be tapped to review the file.  Think of these as acting sort of like a Grand Jury.  They listen to both sides and decide if they think the case warrants a judgement.  Admin are the final judges. In the business models both mediation and arbitration call for completely independent overview.  With our current structure that is not possible as Mentors and Mediators and Admins and Leaders are all part of the process.  And some it seems fulfill more than one responsibility.  So there is a perception of a special class of people handling things behind closed doors.  And as a result of this a judgement can be handed down.  Now I ask you to stop and think about that for one minute.  Where in a free society do you see such a process?  We are raised on the idea of a jury of our peers.  Yes the entire process is not a trial but the final steps are.  So does it make sense to have some peer review of things before a final judgement is handed down?Think again of the perception.  If everything has been done right what does anyone have to fear by a final review by independent members? This protects the hard working fairr-minded Mentors and Mediators from being hit with guilt by association from a perception about the fairness of the process.  It is meant to do one thing only, to correct the perception that everything is done in secrecy.  I think the how this would look and work should be debated as part of this thread.  

A couple of people made the point that WikiTree is a business.  I come from a very strong business background.  I was in management in 4 small businesses one that I owned and another that I co-owned and for 22 years I was in management for a privately owned multinational billion dollar company and had direct reports in more than one US city.  I had the responsibility of hiring full time for my department but also contracts for both Independent Contractors and Freelance employees, I bought rights and permissions, among other things, I managed budgets, did documentation and training and testing of IT systems.  I was a pivot among Operations, Financial, and Systems. When I retired I had to train 4 people to take my job.  Why is this important?  Because I have dealt with a number of issues that are relevant to this discussion.  Once again what is critical in business is that the Perception of anyone looking in things look fair and above board. It does not matter if the process in reality is fair if it doesn't look fair or is perceived as unfair then you have a problem and it needs to be honestly and openly addressed or it will do a lot of harm to your business.  So from a purely business perspective it is vital that this perception vs reality be addressed and the process tweaked so everyone is satisfied that the process is indeed fair.  

Once again thank you to the very hard working volunteers and to the paid staff for what you do to make WikiTree work.  Now, can we all work together to honestly look at the perception and the reality of this process that you asked us to say is fair?  I get the feeling from some of the posts that some people are misunderstanding where this thread came from.   Some of these ideas were brought up in the closure thread and Eowyn asked as did some others that the discussion be moved to a proposal document.  That is what this is.  A desire to work with everyone to make a process that not only is fair but also looks fair.

Thank you for that cogent and coherent summation, Laura yes

While many of us have studiously avoided this topic in the forum, we have been vigorously discussing it off-line--and your post represents the general consensus of what our views are.

As a side note on the specific portion dealing with the grossly selective representation of the pages linked to make the point that this is a business and the implied follow-up that you are welcome to leave if you don't like it, the perception in my circle of colleagues was that attitude is diametric to the overall mission and goals expressed by the founder and very likely an unproductive and demoralizing point of view to thrust on a 'room' full of people who have volunteered their time and effort to support that mission and those goals.

I echo Nick's thanks for such a "cogent and coherent summation".

It helps me in my thinking processes to have such laid out so well.

5 Answers

+8 votes

I think WikiTree should adopt the Modest proposal.

by Living Tardy G2G6 Pilot (756k points)
I’m torn between retention of existing process and the modest proposal. Most anything that gets to this stage has already consumed huge amounts of volunteer time and that is something of which we do not have an endless supply. At this stage eliminating fruitless additional discussion seems advisable. The ambitious proposal appears to add repetitive layers of completed processes.
I like the requirement to include a single reply from the person who's account has been closed.

As T states, changing a lot and adding options as in the extended proposal will only open up more discussion and points of disagreement.

As pointed out in the other thread:I would really suggest to appoint one chairperson/public moderator for the thread with the publication to openly moderate the discussion.

1. The original sentence stating that: "If you discuss the case with others in a public forum, this will be interpreted as a request for public review" appears to be missing in this proposal. In the case of a member who chooses to provide false information about their case closure, and who sends this information to WikiTree Members or posts online to another forum, removing this statement leaves no room for WikiTree to respond to the accusations. It could be reworded if needed, but I think the point is valid and should remain in some form.

2. I think the intent in this proposal is to identify and draft both the Summary and Member Response so they can be posted at the same time. I look at this as a "Lessons Learned" from this previous review process - which was the first public review - and I am all for that. If that is indeed the intent, this may need a little more cleaning up to make it clearer.

3. The part about Mentor, Mediator and Team Member response about the case would now be redundant since the case itself is no longer in question with the addition of "No comments or answers regarding your particular case will be allowed, because the case is permanently closed." I think this is a semi-drastic departure from the current policy since the wording currently allows for both (Was the decision fair? and Does the process need to change?)

If this "Modest proposal" was restructured to incorporate the Lessons Learned from point #2 above, Item #1 added back in some form, and Item #3 addressed by removing the restriction for being the process only, and not the case and whether or not it was fair, I would vote vote for it at that time.

Michel, I agree a single post from the former member makes sense, provided the other side also only posts once.

In the current example, we saw WikiTree post its official narrative, then much later the former member post his.  Now, several of the participants from the WikiTree side have posted their own rebuttals, against which the former member has to remain silent.  I don't think a protracted public debate between the ousted member and roughly one third of the English alphabet would be desirable. I'm saying it's not fair to allow unlimited bandwidth to only one side of the issue.

More discussion in public, even if disagreeable, is the path to better understanding, improved processes, and greater trust from and within the community.


Single should probably be applied to both sides.

The chairperson/public moderator should take care of making this 'review' fair and balanced. Sometimes this can be a public debate, sometimes it takes a period of reflection, or a mix. When emotions tend to get high, and words used by one or both sides are not very flattering, or perceived that way, the need to react (again) rises, creating a near endless loop. Only an outsider can oversee this all, as all others are emotionally attached.

I fully agree that public discussion in all openness is a great good. But this requires all parties to discuss in a fair way, listening to the other side. Unfortunately that is not always the case or even an option when some parties are non-native English speakers or from a non Western Culture.
Steve, the 'public discussion' trigger was removed from both proposals for two reasons.  First, it imposes a WikiTree rule on someone no longer a member, because the provision does not apply until after the account has been closed.  That seems unfair in principle, to me.  In addition, there may be no way for WikiTree to reach the ex-member to invite the required reply (he or she may have closed the e-mail account in WikiTree's records, for example).  Second, according to Eowyn in the review thread, WikiTree has never invoked the provision, and she thought it should be removed.

You are correct about the intent of getting the reply before publishing the review.  I think the proposals actually state that.

The statement about leadership not responding publicly is carried from the original, with the addition of Mentors.  I think it still makes sense to state in some form that WikiTree leadership will not discuss the case anywhere but G2G.

As for removing discussion about whether the case was handled fairly, the finality of the decision makes that moot.  If the consensus should come out 'unfair,' so what?  The member is still out, and whoever dealt unfairly with him or her is still in.  A review of the merits without being able to reverse the result has no meaning.  It amounts to an invitation to confirm what leadership already believes about its actions.

Edited to correct typo.
To clarify, I said it probably should be removed or reworded.  I have a better understanding of the intent of it now. I think if we were to see someone posting elsewhere we would consider the matter now public and could post our own summary of what happened if that's something we determined to do.  The wording does need to be clarified.

Thanks Eowyn!  You asked, you received.  smiley

To add to my point, above, that it's unfair to impose WikiTree rules on a non-member, I believe there is no similar provision that applies to accounts closed voluntarily.  A member could close his or her own account, then go on social media and say anything, and be completely removed from any WikiTree consequences short of legal action.  I can't imagine WikiTree opening a G2G question to expose personal communications or other information about a (voluntarily) former member's activities while here, for any reason.  Why should an ousted member be treated differently?  Surely, WikiTree is bigger than that.

Michel, regarding your chairperson idea, I very much agree an outsider would fill that role best.  He or she could join as a Guest member for access to G2G.  But where would we find such a person, acceptable to both sides as impartial?  Or, if required to choose from among our members, how would we choose one acceptable to both sides as impartial?  If you have ideas about selection process - I don't mean to put you on the spot.

Also, how would we handle the fact that the chairperson could not be available for 24/7 moderating?

Thanks very much for your thoughtful input.
I think the chairperson idea is great in theory but difficult if not impossible in practice.  Unless we can find a retired judge, who is willing to donate hours of their time to adjudicate a case, I can't see it happening.  Even if we could find someone from outside of WikiTree willing to do this, they would have to spend some time learning at least some of the systems/rules involved in the WikiTree community.

Having someone from inside WikiTree is difficult, because no matter how impartial they might be, there could always be an accusation of bias.

It is probably better to stick with a review panel idea. Whatever the size of the panel, it would have to be odd numbers, so you would always have a majority decision either way.  However again there are problems around how the members of the panel are selected, whether they are willing to sit on a panel, and prepared for a possible lengthy commitment?
Thanks for your thoughts John.  I edited this comment to move discussion of your panel remarks to the 'Ambitious' answer.

The panel idea creates the suggestion that the closed account can be reopened, thus opening up an possible endless discussion and lobbying and a big option for lasting damage to the community. It also creates yet another entity that needs instructions, reporting and time.

This is a vote for the modest proposal, not the Ambitious. An amendment to the final step in the whole process, not a rewrite of other parts of the process.

I do see the issue with 24/7 coverage. That would require 2 people at least. But I do not think this has to be a judge, or an outsider. It can be anyone with merit that is not connected to any one of the decisionmakers and the former member. The only purpose is to prevent the uneven (unfair if you like) distribution of contributions, the need to reply to accusations that might be taken personal and the openness on decisions to hide answers/comments. At this moment it is completely unclear who opens the discussion, who hides comments/answers, how many responses have been received, why some members had the opportunity to reply to nearly all of the answers where others stay silent and thus how fair this part of the process is. That really just feeds into the arguments of the former member at this moment, something you would want not to happen again.

The aim, as I see it, for the final step is an evaluation of the whole process, a moment to learn, listen to each other and grieve/mourn over it all. That has to happen in a fair open but also safe environment. As apparently G2G has been chosen to be used for it, and G2G is public (= copied to other parts of the WWW), you need strong, fair and good moderation. In my view it is not an option to restart the whole discussion again out in the open.

I have said much more than I wanted, I only did so as I really feel sympathy for all the hurt ones here and there.

Thanks Michel!

You are right, it brings needless confusion to discuss the panel idea under this answer, so I'll move my response to John to the other answer.
+14 votes

I think WikiTree should adopt the Ambitious proposal.

Added for honest totals:  This answer has received 13 upvotes (+/- one downvote; not sure where they all went).

by Living Tardy G2G6 Pilot (756k points)
edited by Living Tardy
My guess is that this process will not be invoked very often. However, the "ambitious" proposal introduces actual accountability (I would call it the "accountability" proposal), gives the parties involved a last reason/opportunity to retreat to reasonableness, and allows for the formation of a new community consensus with immediate effect. However, it also opens up the possibility  of 10s or 100s of people weighing in on what, at that point, is likely a fairly emotional situation with entrenched positions. I doubt the nuance of the situation can be fully conveyed. I can foresee a need to aggressively moderate the comments. I would compress the open period, maybe three days max. I can't see the benefit of leaving it open longer. Most active WT members will visit G2G in that period. I would also consider taking the initial G2G discussion down, and only leaving a resolution post as a permanent record in G2G. If the community is open to a "radical" solution, have a one-timer on video with the panel making a decision (yes, Honor Court).

The "Ambitious proposal" poses a few major issues for me:

1. Allows for account re-opening after closure... This would change the entire dynamics of the Conflict Escalation process and does not seem to be consistent with WikiTree's mission, pledge and commitment (Finalizing Rules #3).

Knowing that they could always request a review and that account closure is no longer deemed permanent, someone could easily skip through stages of the process (e.g., by not responding and getting escalated) in order to hit the review stage and be done with the issue.

I feel this means this proposal would also need to include a full revamp of the entire Conflict Escalation process (Mentoring and Mediation Processes specifically) in order to allow for the additional roles (e.g., Review Panel and Intermediary).

2. This proposal would also need confirmation from the WikiTree Team that it is even possible to reopen the account (Finalizing Rules #2). What are the limits? What is lost (e.g., DNA test data, Images, Biography, email and password)? What about Private accounts that were deleted upon closure ("If you created profiles of living people and have not shared them with other members they will be deleted when your account is closed")? There are too many variables here to think this is able to be supported in a viable way.

3. [Policy on panel selection to be developed later]. This is a vital part of the proposal, so it would be prudent to have these details fleshed out now, not later. I am not sure how we can expect anyone to approve a proposal when major components are not included (or fully developed). For example, how many people make up a review panel - 2 people or 13 people? Are these people permanently designate as the Review Panel, or are they selected at random each time a panel is needed? How are they selected (e.g., application process, nomination, etc.)? 

4. What are the limits if this were to be approved? Who gets to request a Formal Review? An account closed 4 years ago? An account closed two days before this is enacted?

EDITED: My numbers where out of sync and minor wording changes for clarification.

@Herb, for the sake of accuracy, it currently has 9 upvotes.
Thanks Eowyn.  I must have one of the downvotes in the wrong place.
Relocated reply to John Atkinson's comment about review panel issues, under the 'Modest' answer:

Thanks for your thoughts John.  My colleagues and I omitted details about panel selection, etc, to consider them fully if the idea got enough support to proceed with another draft, and knowing the G2G discussion would turn up good ideas.

My own thinking is the panel should have a small number of members, say seven or fewer.  To try to avoid conflicts of interest and collect diverse viewpoints, they should be chosen randomly from a pool of ordinary members (not Mentors, Mediators, Leaders, or Team).  We might want to include an experience criterion as well.  Decision could be by simple majority, which would require an odd number of course.  Or, we could use a six-person panel and require at least four votes to re-open the account.  It might even be appropriate to require a unanimous vote to overrule a decision that has already been considered by so many others.  Maybe impose a time limit too, such as If they can't reach a decision in so many days, the account remains closed?
12 upvotes currently. :)  Plus one person who upvoted all three answers.
+25 votes

I think WikiTree should retain the existing policy.

by Living Tardy G2G6 Pilot (756k points)

I'm with Herbert on this ... neither approach as outlined above appear to tread the path of impartiality {EDITED} and the plain statement of actions on the part of each individual and -- as an offset -- how those actions appeared to the other person ... the combatants would be reduced to providing evidence such as the emails and Changes log and the like ... 

As is said in Help:Developing New Rules, I might remind you that, "our community is not a democracy. The WikiTree Team has final responsibility..." 

Also, ". WikiTree is published by, Inc., a small business based in New York." So, WikiTree runs on a business model, and the WikiTree team makes decisions about what's best for this business. It seems to me that the team strives to be as open about decisions as possible. 

Respectfully, Herbert is only following what we were told  --

This is an opportunity for the community to evaluate whether or not John’s case was handled fairly and to consider whether the conflict escalation process could be improved.

If you would like to provide feedback on the conflict escalation process, please respond with an answer below or with a new proposal.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker


 Your suggestion for having a "jury" to review "evictions" has been previously mentioned in this thread and the recommendation was that if you think this is a good idea, you should file a formal request to change Wikitree policy.  You can follow these steps:

I'm not picking on his "process" to try to develop a new rule, which usually pertains to the actual genealogy portion of the site. I'm asserting that this "board" or "jury" or whatever you want to call it seems out of whack with what a business would do.  I cannot think of another site with a forum that opens its process to the whole site to observe, and I would not approve of it if WikiTree did this.
It's not what I would call it at all.  I am a sideline sitter.  What opinions I have, I keep mostly to myself.  I was just answering what I thought was behind the reasoning for the "question".

(I have seen, and participated in forums where the process was 100% in the open, and others where it was semi-open.  Pardon me, I must be away as my spambots are calling me.)
As the John Williams case was the first time this process was ever implemented, it may need a bit of re-wording/clarification. This was a learning experience for us all. Keep in mind what Natalie stated above, WikiTree runs on a business model. Because this site is FREE to everyone and is run by volunteers, suggesting an even more complicated process (the Ambitious Proposal) which includes further review and the possibility of reopening closed accounts is simply asking too much. Before suggesting the mentoring/mediation/public review process undergo significant change, perhaps its critics might instead volunteer to be a mentor (or moderator or ranger). Try walking a mile in their shoes before offering opinions and suggesting changes to their "job descriptions". These volunteer positions are both stressful and incredibly time consuming. I would NOT support adding even more requirements to their already heavy workloads.
Traci, 're-wording/clarification' is precisely the purpose of these proposals.  Would you mind showing me where they include changing anyone's job description?  I think the Ambitious version adds new roles (panel member and Intermediary), but doesn't change the existing ones.

I'll gladly add my uninvited and poorly informed business analysis to yours and Natalie's.  WikiTree/'s business relies on hundreds of active volunteers to provide tech support via G2G and to create and curate the content that attracts advertisers, who actually provide the revenue.  I think it might work to the company's benefit to maintain a happy, secure, and productive free workforce.  An investment in changing the disciplinary system to create more trust and a stronger perception of fairness might improve productivity and attract and retain more skilled and experienced volunteers.  Without real facts and figures, you and I can only guess whether that nets out positive or negative on the bottom line.

Adding member oversight to the disciplinary system through some kind of independent review panel is meant to improve member perception and understanding of these difficult issues.  It's a system that any one of us could encounter at any time, and openness and oversight should help dispel fear of it.  The very end of the process is not the only, and may not be the best place to put a member review panel.  The overall Conflict Escalation process offers several points where such a panel might enter.  Within the scope of these proposals (Stage 7 only), the end seems the logical place for it.

Apologies to anyone upset by this concept.
20 upvotes here since we are noting that in this thread.
Herb, what I have come to love as a hobby, by one statement, you have disenchanted me by calling it productive free work.
+10 votes
Ambitious, since I doubt we need to use it that often, and also people change.

Also, many people in society (those with ASD, etc,) may be socially awkward, not able to relate to others, don't fit in on internet forums like G2G, etc, but are great genealogists.  I vote for being inclusive.

Reading the post of the person who was just deleted, they appear to have some medical/mental issue.  I'm not a fan of excluding those that don't fit in with the normals.  

I'd rather that we use controls that would prevent what may be perceived as bad behavior vs. deleting accounts. For example, if someone is sending out a bunch of private messages all in a short time period, an automatic block could prevent this.  Or automatically not allowing animated GIF's through programming would be better than policing it.  Maybe a peer-to-peer blocking system could help as well. Stuff like that I guess.
by Anonymous Nagel G2G6 Mach 3 (35.7k points)
edited by Anonymous Nagel

...may be socially awkward, not able to relate to others, don't fit in on internet forums like G2G, etc, but are great genealogists.  I vote for being inclusive.

This would be a very slippery slope. While WikiTree is first and foremost a genealogical platform, it is founded on the basis of one world tree and collaboration. G2G is one of the largest means of collaboration, so how do we accommodate them? Do we block their access to G2G and let them have at profiles? What about profile comments and private messages? We can't restrict certain features of the site for certain people without going against our own collaboration foundations.

I support Anonymous Nagel's viewpoint/s.

I have worked on forums with persons diagnosed with one or more of the ASD range of issues since 2004.  I have never had a problem collaborating with them, or with my Moderators in dealing with them.  They are (now, in one special case) productive members of society, but sometimes have problems relating to others.  Sometimes those problems require that things are explained multiple time, in multiple ways, until the person gains understanding.  If Wikitree is to be a place for all to build their family lines in order to meet up with the one Tree, then it needs to accommodate those with differing needs - be it language, sight issues, memory issues, etc.  If we can be patient and helpful to someone who has - for example - had a stroke, or an accident causing memory issues, or causing physical issues regards typing, or understanding a process and how it works (even "just" uploading an image can defeat some folk), then we should also be patient, helpful, and accommodating to those with other issues.

(I have also worked with such people off the internet for more than 40 years.  Sometimes it can take the (to use an old saw) "patience of a saint", so I'm glad I am one.)


Also :

We can't restrict certain features of the site for certain people without going against our own collaboration foundations.

This is already done, however, by placing blocks on people's activities/access to editing/access to g2g.

Also :

G2G is one of the largest means of collaboration

I was collaborating LONG before I discovered g2g.  I was using profile comments, and email.  I still do this, as around 70% of my collaboration in unseen due to taking place by way of emails and profile messages.

I'm sure there are many others who do the same, because the number of g2g users is only a % of actual registered users.

Melanie, I agree with almost all you have said, and I am happy to say that WikiTree already has a mechanism for helping these people - Mentors. I think a major issue is that people see Mentors as a negative role on WikiTree (whose job it is to punish or scold someone for doing wrong) - when they actually emerged from the community as a way for members to help each other work through problems.

Have a question on merging?
Need one-on-one help with a GEDCOM?
Confused on how to work with inline references?
Ask a Mentor!

Notice someone struggling with sourcing?
Is there someone who needs help with merging duplicate profiles they accidentally created?
Ask a Mentor through MIR form!

This is already done, however, by placing blocks on people's activities/access to editing/access to g2g.

Yes it is already done, but not for G2G alone - that was the point. A block affects the entire WikiTree site, including access to work on profiles. So I meant that we cannot block G2G alone without blocking everything else.

I'm sure there are many others who do the same, because the number of g2g users is only a % of actual registered users.

That may be true; however, G2G is officially used by WikiTree as a collaboration platform the same as PM's and profile comments, so to block access to one of those tools would be against our own collaboration foundations as I mentioned previously.

Note: I hid this comment since Melody already captured these points better than I did.  Subsequently I have now shown the comment upon request.

"G2G is one of the largest means of collaboration, so how do we accommodate them?"

This would require deeper discussion obviously, but we clearly do some of this accomodation already.  Searching G2G, we have several efforts that are concerned with accommodating the blind, hearing impaired, etc.  We certainly could work to accommodate those with other issues.

"We can't restrict certain features of the site for certain people without going against our own collaboration foundations"

We do this already actually.

Melanie, I agree with almost all you have said, and I am happy to say that WikiTree already has a mechanism for helping these people - Mentors. I think a major issue is that people see Mentors as a negative role on WikiTree (whose job it is to punish or scold someone for doing wrong) - when they actually emerged from the community as a way for members to help each other work through problems.

by Steve Harris


Perhaps, then, the two "roles" need to be separated, and the "helper mentors" be named something else that doesn't have such negative connotations.  (But I'm sure that isn't something that falls under the scope of this particular thread -- or would it?  Being that mentors are part of the question.) 

I agree with Melanie that the 'helper' and 'enforcer' Mentor roles should be separated.  But it is outside the scope of these proposals in my opinion.
Thanks, Herbert, for affirming that it should be a separate discussion.
+9 votes

Having read through the one case on WikiTree so far, and having long experience of administering dispute resolution procedures in voluntary organisations, may I make a small suggestion? That every exchange between the member and the mediators should be limited to 1,000 words (or less?), with longer communications being returned. OK, of course, to add links to other documents.

by Living Flower G2G6 Mach 1 (13.1k points)
Thanks Stanley!  I like that suggestion.  And, I got a chuckle thinking of some cheeky WikiTree troublemaker bouncing back his Mentor's 1001-word e-mail.
Stanley, generally the mentor-mentee exchanges are not very lengthy. Most often they consist of back-and-forth communication, with the mentor supplying links to WikiTree help pages and maybe offering some examples of how to apply the info within those help pages to a particular profile. This is the majority of what a mentor does. The troublemakers are few, but they often require more attention/communication.

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