What to do with the myriad "Living"

+1 vote

I have been revisiting Help:Trusted List  Help:Collaborative Family Tree   Help:Privacy 

The issue - when I add Living Smith or Thomas Smith ( who is living) there is a huge list of similar entries with no identifying information. I don't have time to contact all of them by messaging, over and over and most would not reply anyway.

My SUGGESTION - I think when we set someone as "living" or "Private" there should be a "expiration date" associated with these designations. Perhaps 90 years for "living" and 70 years for "Private". At least these will eventually disappear. 

In the meantime, there will be many multiple copies of various "Living Smith"s. Unless there is something I really don't understand about WikiTree. 

Please set me straight if I have failed to understand the policies and process. 

in Policy and Style by LG Price G2G6 Mach 4 (41.8k points)

1 Answer

+2 votes

If you look on the Help:Privacy page under the Unlisted heading there is a Line starting As of May 2018 which is about the GDPR

That has created lots of "Living Smith"s for example as unless you are on the trusted list for those profiles you won't see any identifiable information. The Profile managers would have put in the actual name but it is displayed as "Living Surname". Basically if a profile is born less than 100 years ago and does't have a death date then the profile must be Unlisted Privacy Level.(I think that is the limit but it may be more). That is one way that Wikitree has implemented it's reaction to the GDPR. 

Now if an unlisted profile has a death date added then all other privacy levels are now open to use and you will be able to see the first name. Otherwise an edit of an Unlisted profile after the 100 year limit will also trigger the privacy level change. 

The other times you may come across "Living Surname"s is those profiles that were created in the early days of Wikitree in Gedcom imports that were placeholders and never had a proper First name entered. Those profiles usually have no identifiable information as it is and have usually been abandoned. 

So eventually the "Living Surname" profiles will have their names shown provided they are not deleted by the Profile manager closing their account (Another Privacy control) but it would likely be many years from now. 

by Darren Kellett G2G6 Pilot (187k points)
The GEDcom part of this post cannot be stressed enough. Yesterday I adopted an unknown (with one of my main surnames) connected to another profile without any information, connected to more profiles without information, etc. etc. which had all come from an old GEDcom. Some days it's like solving a giant puzzle.
Thanks for the information. I had missed the GDPR information.

I just wonder, would it be better for WIKITREE to advise people to only enter living relatives for their immediate family, Siblings, Parents - maybe adding 1st cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, but no more.

Otherwise, it does not seem manageable to me.

The problem is any profiles that were created before the May 2018 cutoff could have been created as Placeholder profiles or were kept at the Red Privacy Level. So while most information was private any duplicates could be identified a bit easier then now. Those profiles are the majority of the Unlisted Black level privacy profiles. 

Wikitree doesn't delete profiles (With one main exception) so any profiles created before the May 2018 Unlisted if living restrictions came in will remain on Wikitree. The Main exception is if a profile manager closes their account and any Private or Unlisted profile they manage will get deleted unless someone else is on the trusted list. 

So even if Wikitree puts an advisory about only entering parents, Grandparents etc until you get to a profile that is visible to others there still would be the legacy profiles that were created before that will be still listed and people could still create unintentional duplicates as they can't see the profiles locked behind the Unlisted Privacy level. I personally have 1st cousins managed by a fifth or sixth cousin and I can't see their profiles because of the Unlisted privacy level that are legacy profiles. So any advice runs the risk of creating duplicates due to Legacy profiles and any limits may not work for every family situation. 

Thanks again for discussing the issues, this has been a mystery to me.

I think there is a second issue with the status quo, that affects new WikiTree users. I missed this because, when I joined I started with myself, added my brother and worked my way up. The only person I added who was living was myself. Only recently, as I have worked on descendants, DNA cousins, have I begun to add living persons. ( I have been a member about a year). 

I think the majority of new members will start adding themselves, their living parents, aunts, uncles, cousins. All of these will be private. Their introduction to WikiTree stresses a universal tree and collaboration, but the "learning by doing" experience trains them to set up a private tree that connects to no-one outside. By the time they start adding deceased ancestors, they have come to the conclusion that they can just make everyone private. That is what WikiTree has forced them to do for the first dozen entries. 

AND - it is confusing - it has certainly confused me and I have been a member for a year. 

One benefit of limiting "Living Relatives" to only close relatives, is that it teaches that a member is to connect to public profiles, not the opposite. Another benefit is that it would limit the number of Private Profiles that will eventually drop into the public sphere. I have a vision of this swamping WikiTree in about a hundred years, not to mention filling up the databases and servers with duplicate profiles. I suspect that a high percentage of these will not be worth much.

Well, those are my thoughts.

I think for myself, I will simply restrain in the future from adding living people. I can add them to my desktop tree.

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