What do you think of making 2021 "The Year of Accuracy" on WikiTree?

+82 votes

Hi WikiTreers,

Eowyn came up with this idea: Make 2021 "The Year of Accuracy" on WikiTree.

The two fairly-obvious goals:

  1. Improve accuracy on WikiTree.
  2. Use it for outreach and promotion.

We can never do enough outreach. WikiTree is a low-budget organization with no advertising budget. Members help spread the word, directly and indirectly.

Most people find WikiTree through Google searches. We create good quality profiles for our ancestors. Our cousins find these profiles through Google. Some of them click on the ads they see on the pages. This pays our bills so we can be free for members. Some of them become members themselves. This keeps us growing.

This virtuous cycle of organic growth is not inevitable, however. Google won't send us visitors unless they think we have web pages that people want to see. One of the main ways Google knows whether web pages are worth seeing is whether people on other websites and social networks talk about them. (See "Will you help spread the word about WikiTree?" for more about this.)

So, improving our profiles and making people outside of WikiTree aware of them is fundamentally important to the success of our mission.

What exactly would this "Year of Accuracy" be? I don't know. I'm posting here to get the discussion started.

We should try to think of things that could engage genealogy bloggers and people who talk about genealogy on social networks. One idea I had is to challenge genealogists who don't use WikiTree to show us where their genealogy on WikiTree is incorrect. If a blogger or someone on social media takes us up on this, we investigate. Are they right or wrong? We win either way. If we see that they are wrong -- that our tree is as accurate as it can be based on available sources -- we increase our reputation for accuracy. If we see that they are right, we get to correct a mistake on WikiTree and become more accurate.

What do you think of that idea?

Eowyn had an idea for different monthly challenges. Eowyn, could you explain your thoughts on this?

What other ideas do you have? What would be fun?



in The Tree House by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
The goal should be accuracy, when creating profiles on WikiTree.

...and then clear and concise information.

...and the sources, there is never enough

...and enjoying the process

Why not have a link on each profile asking if someone sees something incorrect to contact the profile manager.Sort of like the invitation to join does. Maybe a small one that says we strive for accuracy on our profiles. If you see something wrong please send the profile manager a note or contact our correction team to work with you to correct the profile. Doing that might bring people in. Also, I have been trying to bring in some of my Varnado family members. They say they are struggling with using Wikitree. There should be a how to use Wikitree Instruction Page for people who don’t a lot about computers.

Those things might net Wikitree orchards of that “low hanging fruit”. If Alan Thomas had not spent three days teaching me stuff like how to attach a source to the biography I would have quit myself. Thanks again Alan!
I have noticed an astonishing number of competitive members. Why not make a Correctation be held every so often in 2021. Corrections take longer and numbers won’t be as high but the effort is worth it. Hold them where there are an array of prizes that keep people motivated.

Make sure leaders are not always the winners of prize drawings. If a person is working hard to do the work then their work is the same as anyone else’s even if not the same number of profiles.

Also, require entrants to clean their own suggestions list before the start date.
Good suggestion, Gigi, to add a sort of disclaimer/mission/invitation.  I like how you have worded it.  Mary G.
Accuracy is essential to genealogy. It is the cornerstone on what we as a community are trying to build with Wikitree.

Update: Here's a narrower thread for discussing "Correct-a-Thon" ideas: https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/1137723/what-do-you-think-of-these-correct-a-thon-ideas

I think it is a great idea to focus on the accuracy of information posted on Wikitree. I have found Wikitree a great site and I have been able to make contact with others around the world related to my ancestors.

I do have some reservations about Gedcom files that are uploaded and left as they are without any attempt by those who posted them to edit the files. The uploads sometimes are messy and look very unprofessional - not very inspiring for a new person to Wikitree. The files in their raw form have helped me, but if those who upload them are not prepared to edit them - should they be left as they are? I would suggest putting a time limit on retaining Gedcom files that are not edited by those who post them. Some of  the person profiles in these files that I have been interested in are not open - they were posted in 2013 - the person who posted them has not been active since then.

Thanks to all at Wikitree who work hard behind the scene to keep it all working.
I agree. They are not in the acceptable format for WT and normally a cluttered extension of the top portion of the profile. I love cleaning them but am tired of reaching out to pm's that have imported them and never returned. They normally ignore you. What if there were a rule that if there is a GEDCOM import that a pm hasn't touched since it's creation that some of the "polite" recommendations are withdrawn?
My personal storage is in GRAMPS and I have found that if the data is entered in the correct way, the GEDCOM file imported to WT works quite well. Little editing is required. Mostly a deletion of some extra lines.

I’ve seen question from other users questioning the import from Ancestry, FindMyPast and other programs. The question comes to mind if anyone has taken the time to analyze these and make recommendations on how to optimize the data collection for the output to a compatible WT GEDCOM input file.

It has taken me a year to figure out the right way to put the data into GRAMPS and I know that there is limited control in Ancestry and FindMyPast. I never discovered a “how to use this app correctly” (in GRAMPS) when I started. Lots of help files on what the fields were for....

I have found WT difficult (like others) because of the HTML coding required. My GEDCOM files do a lot of the formatting for me, so I’m happy.

Maybe a recommendation from the WT community specifically with regard to GEDCOMs from these apps is needed. E.g. Don’t import from XXX as it is not compatible with WT.   or  you have to do yyy for the input to be compatible..

Then we might not have so many problems   


47 Answers

+54 votes
An excellent idea. It ties in very well with one of the main motives for the creation of the Medieval Project this summer: to improve the accuracy (and presentation) of medieval profiles, too many of which lack good sourcing and/or have dubious information or relationships imported from GEDCOMs or derived from unsourced family trees elsewhere on the web. (Some of these unsatisfactory profiles are of major notables.)
by Michael Cayley G2G6 Pilot (163k points)
Scotland Project has been working on that for a while now!  I think that is a fantastic idea!  Count me in!
+42 votes
Any theme to improve WikiTree is welcome!

You mention two terms that are slightly different things for me: "correct and accurate information" on one hand and "profiles that get found and visited by outsiders" on the other hand. You can have very boring profiles that are 100% accurate and vise versa: beautiful trees that are full of non-existent links/stories.

I would envision a stepped approach: assigning branches to improve core data on first. Then collect the profiles on the branch and move those to biography writers that have a good sense of what people want to read (and use the language of the country involved).

If it really is about accurate information, there is a big opportunity in linked open data: add fields to the database so profiles can be linked to external sources and become a core location for curated information. Think WikiData but for genealogy. Not sure if that is 'fun' enough, but it is possible.

Local search results, even for Google, will also highly depend on nicknames and language used. As long as all primary information is given in English, you will rule out all searches in a local language (the standard setting for a typical genealogist, which I am not).
by Michel Vorenhout G2G6 Pilot (266k points)
+32 votes
Chris, I would like to know more about what you mean when you say that if an outside genealogist disagrees with something on the site, "we investigate."  Are you going to set up some kind of special team or committee to do the investigations?  If so, can existing WikiTree members appeal to them also?  I know of profiles in my own tree that are demonstrably incorrect, but I can not get the PM to fix them.
by Living Kelts G2G6 Pilot (517k points)
Since I can see that I'm picking up down votes, I'll try to explain myself further.  It is just too hard to get problems fixed on WikiTree.  That is my opinion, but it is also the opinion of some of the best genealogists I have ever known, who won't come here because they don't want to fight.  What I'm trying to say is that there should be an easier process in the case of obvious problems.

If someone would like to discuss my ideas instead of just making anonymous down votes, please give me your comments.

Edit:  To clarify one more time--I don't feel that I'm changing the subject.  If we invite outside genealogists to tell us where we are wrong, what should we expect of them?  For example, if someone has a complete profile, well-documented on some other genealogy website, how much work are we asking them to do to present their case?  Should they have to transfer all their work to WikiTree?  Or will we go to them?
We don't have all the details figured out yet of how it might work.  The general idea is that non-WikiTreers would point out things they feel are errors on WikiTree and we (the community) would research to see if they are actually errors and try to fix them or be able to clarify that it is correct.

If you are having issues with a WikiTree member, you'd need to go through the Problems with Members process for that.  That's what it is there for.  

There's also the Unresponsive Profile Manager process if they aren't responding to you.

Thank you, Eowyn.  I appreciate that this is a new idea and that the details aren't all worked out yet.  So I was just trying to give a little input.  smiley

Now as for the Problems with Members process, I am familiar with that and have re-read it again just now.  Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I wish there was something easier.

Please allow me to give you a specific example (without naming names).  Those who find the detail boring can stop reading.

I have an original immigrant ancestor whose profile is misrepresented in many on-line genealogies.  I spent many, many hours, working with a project, to get the profile cleaned up.  We demonstrated (I would say proved) that he could not have had either of the two wives that are generally attributed to him.  Yet on WikiTree he has two sons named Robert and two sons named James, and the PM won't merge them because she says they had two different mothers, one of which we already discredited on the father's profile.  I don't want to file an MIR over that.  I'd love some kind of simple appeals board that could take five minutes to read the profile and merge the sons.

Hi Julie,

You might be making great points about important topics, but others may hesitate to reply to them in detail for fear of "derailing" the current conversation. Our conflict resolution procedures have been developed through the work of hundreds of volunteers over many years through innumerable conversations. Your suggestions for changing them need careful consideration that cannot be given here. The best way for everyone to benefit from your new ideas would be for you to make a proposal for changes and post it separately.



Thank you, Chris.  It wasn't my intention to derail the discussion, although I can see how it sort of evolved into that.  I won't post here again.  Good luck with your new effort.
Hi Julie, I will be in touch to see if I can help you sort out those disputed profiles.

Eowyn: In theory the problem resolution process works. In reality, when 95% of PMs post a tree then take no further responsibility (including ignoring any attempt to correct blatant errors) it's useless.
I've got dozens of locked profiles in my purview when checking the Suggestions page, can't do a damned thing about them. Honestly, the vast majority of these people need to be evicted in bulk.
Here's a suggestion to improve accuracy: Send regular reminders to PMs to check and clean their Suggestions list. That alone would reduce the stress on those of us who actually spend time here.
Good idea, Robb.  I had no idea there was a suggestion list for months.  It would be a welcome reminder with a link in the e-mail to click on.

When I was new and adding profiles manually, nothing else mattered except getting them correctly formatted and sourced.  As I became more comfortable doing so, I started exploring around. But it took a while.  "Discovered" the suggestion list, then.  Am still working at exploring all the links up at the top in the header.
Chris, I put it to you that anonymous voters might not really want accuracy, as opposed to publicity, and "athons". I mention this possibility because it is obvious and likely.

Furthermore, if there were substantive arguments against what Julie said, then someone would have posted them. No one has done so.
Hi Andrew, just on your second point—I don't think we can read too much into the lack of responses to Julie K's thoughts about changing the established processes for resolving disagreements. The comment has already been made that doing so might "derail" the discussion by taking it away from the original question of whether 2021 should be "The Year of Accuracy".
I Speed, actually I am saying that indeed we should not read anything into a lack of response. But I find it surprising to suggest that Julie's was off topic? It is very much on topic? I think the fact that someone would see it as off topic as perhaps relevant to the deeper question which the discussion raises:

If we want to have an accuracy drive, we need a commonly shared definition of what standards of accuracy we share as a community. However, deciding on such standards on Wikitree has been difficult because it has an approach of saying that we can't say one person's work is better than another's, and saying someone's work is bad is enough to get you warnings, and to have your posts deleted.

So in practice will it be a promotional drive where everyone follows their own preferences and simply makes Wikitree appear more "precise"? Or will we really confront this gorilla in the room and commit more fully to quality, which will mean working to remove some types of material?

That would mean we need to define what a bad article or bad source is, or even better, develop an organizational culture where people know how to discuss this and come to good conclusions case by case.

Because defining bad on Wikitree is sensitive, when it is necessary it does often involve projects and committees, (and indeed for better or worse the discussions about editors happen off wiki; it is not that they don't happen).

...So Julie seemed to me to be thinking quite clearly about how it might work.
+38 votes
Sounds great! Another thing would be to continue promoting the improvement of 5-star profiles (those that get the most views), maybe through challenges, etc.
by Traci Thiessen G2G6 Pilot (274k points)
Good idea, Traci. And I would suggest extending it to 4-star profiles as well. Not everyone feels comfortable working on the most visible profiles, and would be happier working one tier down, perhaps on batch of their own profiles/ancestors. Maybe a challenge to clean up/improve all the -starred profiles in their own lineage.
What are 4 and 5 star profiles? And why are they important or more important than what I assume must be zero star profiles?

5-stars get the most views online. If our most-viewed profiles are inaccurate or incomplete, WikiTree loses credibility. See this post on G2G.

Thanks, but next question, who are the people with the 4 and 5 star profiles, celebrities, historical figures, sports stars?
No, not celebrities generally. They're profiles of many of our ancestors that are highly shared. Examples are Mayflower passengers, early immigrants to many colonial areas, historical figures. See the G2G link Traci posted just above to get you a list of your own Star profiles in your ancestry.
First; thanks to both of you Traci and Bobbie for answering my questions. Second, apologies in advance my next question is somewhat off topic but will answer some more of my questions.

I looked at the 5 star results for the profiles I manage, zero results, nor unexepected I have no relatives in Canada or the US other than siblings.

Next I looked at 4 star results, there are 10, all my husband's relatives.  

Then I realised I had done this before and read posts about how this report is put together, my understanding is that the number of views is total views of the profile, whether by the profile manager, other members or members of the public. Please correct me if my understanding is wrong. Is this number from the date the profile was created?

All but 1 of the 4 star profiles are for my DH's relatives  who were either United Empire Loyalists and/ or founding families of Alton, Ontario. Certainly valued members of the community, but no more than many others. The more well known member of the family is not listed.

The other person is my DH 4 x grt uncle William Crombie, who has 569 views, some of those are views by me.

I could not figure out why he had so many views, so I googled William Crombie famous person, it turns out there are at least 2 famous William Crombies, neither of them the person profiled, one a movie producer with an Australian connection and a somewhat famous painter.

My interpretation is that many of these views happened because people were looking for the 2 people listed above. The William Crombie whose profile I manage, lived in Scotland most of his life, married had kids, moved to Canada late in life and died in the Home for Incurables in a small town in Manitoba.

How do we know or is it possible to know whether the views come from the PM, people who really are searching for that particular person, or searching for someone with a similar name?
I don't know for sure, but I think we count the number of times a profile is viewed by anyone/for any reason. Does it really matter why they're looking at it? The Changes tab shows who edited the profile and when. As this conversation is off-subject, you should ask a separate question about 5-star views on G2G if you're still wondering.  Add tags: profiles, 5-star ... etc.
I will
+34 votes
This is a great idea. I've been working through some GEDcoms recently as part of the GEDcom Team in the England Project. We take profiles through from begining to end, doing the reasearch and then writing the biographies once we have researched as much as we can. We then ask for the England Connectors Team to help connect them to the global tree if they haven't already done so.

One thing which has occured to me throughout this work is the importance of the "common man / woman" in connecting with cousins around the world. It is exciting to know that we are descended from high profile people from the past, but the profiles which frequently draw people into this community are more immediate ancestors who lead very average lives in very normal circumstances. These are the profiles I enjoy working on the most, bringing them back to life and telling their story. I know the 20th and 19th century profiles are not for everyone, and some may consider them easy or low-hanging fruit, but they are precisely the apples that newcomers stumble across first in our tree which is one of many reasons why I love to work on them. A push to bring the profiles of the common man / woman up to as high a standard as possible would be wonderful.
by Susie MacLeod G2G6 Pilot (262k points)
I agree with you, Olivia. One of the things I do (on occasion) is to take one of my very non-notable, common stock ancestors and write a really good bio for them. These are the folks who I get contacted about, by cousins who are much closer than from my slightly more notable ancestors further back.
Olivia, I also agree. It might be "low hanging fruit" but those great aunts and uncles and their parents may be just the grandparents someone is searching for. And if they find an unsourced old GEDCOM junk profile are they likely to look further?
I agree Olivia.  Its the "low hanging fruit" that attracts many people to WikiTree.  I have done quite a bit of work creating profiles for people killed in mining disasters in Yorkshire during the 1800s  and their families.  I am often contacted by their relatives and I am aware of several people who are now working on WikiTree, because they found a well sourced profile for a relative on here.
I agree that these profiles represent the real bridge from the genealogical work done here to the living people who are doing the google searching. Many of the 'cousins' I've been in contact with didn't know much beyond their grandparent's generation. The profiles for their parents & grandparents are what they found and then seeing the information on their older generations and, IME, the ACCURACY (sources) and the obvious time & effort put into those profiles and all the accurately made connections to it's related profiles are what inspired the contact. I'm NOT a biography writer and never will be, and have never had a cousin complain about the 'style' of the profile or the lack of stickers, categories etc... Beyond my immediate family branches, I consider every profile I've created to be an 'open letter' to all viewers (and possible relatives), replete with discussions where necessary about ambiguous data points etc... They are not to be considered tidy packages complete with a ribbon & a bow. They ARE to be considered the absolute best, most accurate presentation of the puzzle pieces I've located and assembled so far......

Are there sources to back up the data given and the connections made? Is the information located presented in a cogent, comprehensible way? These are what my cousins seem to appreciate the most--especially the ones who have looked at the myths and lack of actual sources for their family on some of the other websites.
I agree, Olivia.  Seemingly nondescript branches and twigs (which are the content of most of our trees) actually can be presented interestingly with even a few documented facts that are know about them, their siblings, parents, and other connections.
+24 votes
I love this idea. When I clean up bad genealogy I find in my research as an Adoption Angel, I always bring that correct line over to WikiTree so the information can be publicly available at WikiTree.

One thing that would help, is asking our profiles (especially more recent ones) to strive to be genealogy defined.


Or something similar. A team could be created under a current project who would work specifically on this.
by Emma MacBeath G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
Yes! One of my thoughts for the WikiTree community is that we'd have a 52 Weeks of Accuracy challenge, kind of mirroring the 52 Ancestors/Photos. Each week there'd be some specific theme to focus on and the idea would be to get those groups of profiles to the level that Bob's page is talking about - checking sources for the vitals data and then for any relationships.
My specialty is the relationships, making sure they are correct. I do a lot with the Connectors on this, but I would be happy to check the connections side of things on profiles based on sources. I don't know if that can be a specific piece of this.
Another thing I was thinking was that each week when there are new people in the Connection Finder, maybe having some sort of "challenge" where people check their connections to those people and make sure they are sourced and correct.
Thank you, Emma,

I totally support asking our profiles to be genealogy defined.  That is the basic standard I understood to be Wikitree's standard from day one as a member.  Fast forwarding to today, I now understand that reminding and encouraging folks to meet the standard is a good idea.
I like the "52 Weeks of Accuracy challenge" idea, Eowyn.  Seems a good way to get a lot of valuable involvement.
I rather like the idea of 52 Weeks of Accuracy.

A related thought that I had was a weekly Pride thread -- a place for members to show off something they are proud to have done in the previous week that improved information quality. This would not necessarily be limited to a particular type of profiles or edits -- one member might report their success in disentangling a messy set of confused/conflated relationships in the pre-1700 or pre-1500 period; another might tell of how used data from a particular 19th-century census sheet to nail down biographical data for a family of six; and someone else might proudly report that they found a record that accurately documented their grandmother's date and place of birth.
+22 votes
  1. Reach out to an influencer and ask them to review their family tree info on wikitree back X generations and see how much is there right now. (Have to start from nonliving ancestors ) Find missing relatives, note source quality , etc. as they track back through the generations. We could probably provide them with prompts to help them evaluate, but might get better feedback if open ended
  2. Ask them to write up their findings and publish, with a month long or multiple month time frame for it to be observed (you could probably overlap several people and just stagger the time frames )
  3. Publish their findings on their outlets AND here for members to see
  4. Ask them to commit to engage with the community during the time period, so questions can be asked and answered.
  5. Wikitreers who are interested jump in and try to fill in the gaps, correct any known issues. Invite the influencers to take part, and to evalauate ease of use while browsing/searching/matching/adding/editing
  6. Final re-evaluation after the time is up, asking them to do the same exercise as before, report quality findings and also comment on the experience.
  7. Again publish here and treat as "lessons learned" for the community. Not all feedback will be positive, but the overall experience will be.
by Jonathan Crawford G2G6 Pilot (227k points)
Great ideas, Jonathan. Ask specific leading genealogists to take the WikiTree challenge. Will their ancestry on WikiTree get better or worse during that month?
+21 votes

This is a brilliant idea.I get so embarrassed looking at the different comments on the genealogy groups on Face Book. 

Judy G Russell, the Legal Genealogist, said this a few days ago

What Wikitree has me linked to as "my" family is laughable. And getting worse every day.

It would be great if we could persuade such a person back to the fold. 

by Jean Price G2G6 Mach 4 (48.7k points)
You make a valid point, Jean. The NZ Facebook groups have made some very disparaging comments about Wikitree. I know many of the NZ profiles are reasonably well sourced and the comments are perhaps based on preconceived ideas rather than checking out profiles with excellent research.

If WikiTree wants to have a “Year of Accuracy”, one of the first things that needs to happen is that all those “Unsourced family tree handed down to...” citations, at least on pre 1900 profiles need to be tagged as unsourced so that other WikiTree genealogists can at least find the profiles, source them, find and fix any errors so that each branch of the tree can be seen as accurate.

Hope I'm not sounding too blunt - but - the comments of Ms. Russell and others similar would be much more useful (actually, meaningful) if they gave examples of wrong connections. At least we'd have a place to start. Just saying "it's all junk" is hardly constructive criticism.

It isn't the responsibility of Ms Russell and other non-members to fix errors in WT. If they have no desire to use this site, they have no incentive to fix the errors.
A couple years ago Judy said that WikiTree was the most accurate of the big family trees. I hope she hasn't changed her mind on that.

Has anybody looked into what she is talking about? Is it a private family tree that is tightly controlled by a cousin of hers, or we talking about Open profiles? Maybe we could spin this off into a "Will you help improve Judy Russell's family tree?" thread.
I was looking at that this morning. There are comments that were left on a couple open profiles that give us a good idea of where to start.
Thanks, Eowyn. Then let's start! I am especially concerned to hear that she said things are "getting worse every day." It doesn't bother me when people complain that our pace is too slow, i.e. that we are improving, but it's a slow and painful process. Collaboration is sometimes slow and painful. But if we're getting worse, something is seriously broken.

I should have said, "if we're getting consistently worse or worse overall, something is seriously broken."

Progress in almost anything is often two steps forward, one step back. Errors will be made that need to be later fixed. We would never want to create a culture where mistakes cannot be made.

See this question.  (Sorry for posting again.  I thought it would be helpful to connect the two threads.)

Tell those people to join Wikitree, add sources, and improve the profiles.
Why should people join Wikitree to fix up errors made by others? There are errors in my family tree at Geni. I have no intention of fixing them. I'm not interested in using the site. I've already had a lengthy discussion where my sources and corresponding DNA results meant nothing to the people who manage those profiles. This is the site I want to use and they're correct here.

"Come to Wikitree and fix up the errors in your family" is not an attractive marketing tool.
To everyone in this sub-thread: Please keep in mind that we can not solve problems in Wikitree by demanding outside critics change what they are doing, or that they fix Wikitree. That does not help.

The idea of telling them to fix things in Wikitree could kind of work, but that is called recruiting. You won't recruit people by complaining to them that they shouldn't criticize Wikitree.

Remember to take a step back, and look at Wikitree from outside sometimes.

Please consider, as any healthy organization would, whether this is a danger on Wikitree sometimes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink

"I should have said, "if we're getting consistently worse or worse overall, something is seriously broken."

I've been working recently on the Norfolk, England unsourced profiles and I can say that over time the number of unsourced profiles is getting higher and higher.

Why is this? It's difficult to say exactly. For every ten profiles that team members fix, there are more than ten that get added to the list. Certainly some of these are profiles that have been unsourced for ages and have just no been tagged. But lots of others are brand new profiles that people have created without a source.

That's why I say it's important that we "Make it measurable" so we can definitively say whether it's slow progress or whether it's getting worse.

+36 votes
You don't understand the scale of the problem.  As Thomas More nearly said, finding errors in WikiTree is like finding water in the sea.  You have plenty of members who'll find the errors without having to ask for outside help.

But as Julie says, fixing the errors is too painful, and people have given up.  They don't have the time and energy to make a mountain out of every molehill, when there are so many.

To go for accuracy, you need to make it less painful to fix errors and remove junk.  In particular, you need to scrap Communication Before Editing and go back to Bold - Revert - Discuss.  Fix it first, discuss it only if somebody wants to.
by Living Horace G2G6 Pilot (574k points)
edited by Living Horace
Chris, I apologize for posting to this thread again, because I said I wouldn't.

But because you have suggested, yet again, that concerned members propose new rules, I feel I must ask:  Has a member proposal ever been accepted?  What is their usual reception?  Downvotes, some arguments, then eventually neglected?
I am not concerned, just posting an idea to make life easier and reduce the amount of time spent on administration.

If that can only be done through a public process of creating a new rule... so be it. But Julie is right in that respect: I am not sure if that is my preferred method of working or an activity I want to be involved in. There is indeed a large risk of non response and I am not in control of Paul's (copying his name from a post above) time nor have any idea what he thinks of this idea. In a volunteer organisation the joy people get from doing something is way more important than efficiency or precise rules. So what if Paul (sorry Paul) loves opening up profiles for others?

So I would opt to first learn what the implication is for management (loss of active members, increase in complaints, massive increase in open profiles without a pm), if another group (leaders?) can be activated to make life easier and also: what Paul thinks of this idea as this might potentially take away his hobby. The decision to adopt this change in process is then up for the (product) owner/manager.

The subject of this thread is accuracy and the difficulty to improve it. This is one of my ideas to aid in that respect.

@Chris, I will think about making a post, but can't promis anything.

Things that aren't very controversial and don't require a ton of technically changes usually get accepted.

I found these in a search of G2G

* https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/921629/should-become-official-wikitree-project-protected-profiles

* https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/952503/proposal-addition-to-sources-help-page

* https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/1012341/should-official-wikitree-creating-profiles-recently-deceased

Most people that propose stuff never end up adjusting their proposal based on feedback, or never follow up after the 2 week period, and their proposal dies.
Jamie, two people named Julie have posted here.  I'm a bit disoriented.  Please identify Julie R. or Julie K.
Julie K ...

Jamie is responding to your comments to Chris about proposals made by members.
Yes, thank you.  It was something of a general comment.  It is not the first time that posters have not made the distinction, and I wonder how people less involved than you and I are going to understand the exchanges.
Jamie, I've just looked at those threads.  My impression is that all three were very contentious.

Concerning this sub-thread: RJ is spot-on as usual. I am tempted to call this response "accurate". So it is kind an example of how Wikitree reacts to accuracy in a real case.

So many answers, but they all just frantically try to change the topic, and deliberately dodge the issues in Wiktree

Some of the responses look cynical in this respect. This type of discussion is kind of typical on Wikitree, and again I point to the concept of groupthink.

+19 votes

I hope every year is about improving Wikitree's accuracy - but I welcome even more effort on this. 

Perhaps one monthly focus could be on profiles that haven't been edited in a decade. These typically lack sources, sometimes lack basic headings, and always lack any categories.

There are 119 last edited in 2009 - https://wikitree.sdms.si/default.htm?report=srch1&Query=lastedit2009+open&MaxProfiles=500&SortOrder=BiDa&PageSize=500 -- so we should be able to do these

More daunting is 2010, which has 71,388 last edited in that year - https://wikitree.sdms.si/default.htm?report=srch1&Query=lastedit2010+open&MaxProfiles=100000&SortOrder=BiLoc&PageSize=500

These are easy to find in wikitree+ by searching on lastedit2009 open or by lastedit2010 open. You can then add a location so that regional projects can find the ones of interest. However, 55310 of the 2020 profiles come up adding MissingLocation to the search. Perhaps we can play our own form of Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

by W Robertson G2G6 Pilot (100k points)
As if W Robertson had not suggested enough profiles to work on, I would like to suggest that some of the Public files could be opened. During a recent challenge, I thought I would join but after I had looked for New Zealand and Australian profiles (the two counties I am most comfortable with), and then England and Ireland (the next two), and every one had the pale green padlock I gave up. I know I could send a message to the  profile manager, but they probably won't respond. It must be most disheartening for the Data Doctors.
But if you dont try, you dont know who will respond, do you?

These profiles were literally a lifetime in the making. Letting a request take a few days or a week or a month is not going to hurt that bad.
Many of us have tried, and found that the response rate is extremely low. There are plenty of profiles with comments on them to request fixes. They were placed > 1 year ago and there has been no response.

Most of us are restricted to 20 comments on profiles per day.  They are required before an unresponsive PM request can be submitted, in addition to personal emails and trusted list requests. It will take years to go through the motions of dealing with unresponsive PMs to address the contents of this week's Data Doctors report that are associated with locked profiles. In addition, it requires the DD to keep some sort of filing system to keep track of all these communications for filing the report. That's a lot of hoops to jump through to fix up profiles of non-relatives, when it only took a few minutes to create the error.

Some of the people who are struggling to fix up profiles or who want to contribute to locked profiles relating to their ancestors are getting on in years, or are terminally ill. They are anxious to have this task completed before they depart this world. They find one month does hurt. It does not seem to be uncommon for 3-6 months to lapse before profiles are opened.
Jean: Absolutely. I refuse to enter into Data Doctor challenges because so many profiles aren't able to be edited. Life's too short for the current process to be workable.
If the profile should be open, because of the Birth / Death years, you don't need to go through the PM to get them open.  Use the Open Profile Request from under the Wikitree ID drop down.  It will normally be done within a day.
As far Data Doctor Challenges, if you select the link under the Open column, you will only see profiles that are Open and able for changes to be made, instead of going through a 'century' link.
The profiles in my original answer are all open. It is now possible to limit a wikitree+ to open profiles which will help everyone find only profiles that can be edited to improve/source. Changing the dates of open profiles is a different topic. My suggestion  was to focus some time in 2021 on a subset of open profiles that have not been edited in a very long time and improve/source them. These old profiles do not reflect what current profiles are like.

And thanks Linda for the reminder of how easy it is to open a profile that should be open based on dates.

W if you add orphan to the 2010 query it brings the count to 38499. I sent these to Bio Check, set each max to 1000. Got the following results Examined 1000 profiles: Found 996 profiles with 996 style issues; 0 marked unsourced; 706 possibly unsourced not marked

Good use of the bio check! I am surprised there are as many as 290 that do not appear to be unsourced, based on ones I have viewed previously.  And also a good thought to focus on the orphans in this group first.
Thank you Linda for the information. My first requests to open profiles for births > 150 years ago were opened in a few hours (great response - thank you to the person who did that).
Before the last source-a-thon, I ran a search for orphaned profiles in my target location. Easily 90% of the older profiles had no sources on them and were untagged. I tagged a few hundred of them in preparation for the thon, and there's still plenty left there untagged.
W, Leandra,

Another way to use Bio Check is to look at a GEDCOM. Maybe that could be something people work to improve accuracy, or orphans born 1868, or.... During SourceAThon I ran out of profiles and ran the BioCheck prototype. I didn't get through all 14000 that I found. As I continue to look at this list so far I've found over 200 GEDCOM we could look at, and plan to post the list.

The intent of Bio Check is to find profiles that need work.
The first posts in this thread raise important issues which should not be ignored.
+18 votes

I think Accuracy is one aspect of the Honor Code that sometimes feels like it gets forgotten, so a Year of Accuracy is a great idea.

I do think though we need to be more specific about the goals and what we want to achieve by 31 December 2021.  I don't know whether SMART goals are now considered old-fashioned or maybe more specific goals will come out of this discussion, but at the moment they are very open-ended.

Maybe the goals could be something like - 

  • By 31 Dec 2021 we will have made sure that 50 (or more) 5 star profiles are accurate to 1 generation in every direction.
  • We could be proactive and make sure the 16 great great grandparents of 10/15/25(?) genealogy influencers are accurate.
  • We review any policy and procedures to make sure that they encompass accuracy provisions where appropriate.

I also think another difficulty is maintaining the momentum so apart from Eowyn's monthly challenges, maybe we need to tweak the quarterly weekend challenges so that if they don't already, they have a focus on accuracy?  Perhaps Data Doctor suggestions in 2021 focus on suggestions that improve accuracy of information?

by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (546k points)
SMART goals are still very much a part of successful organisations. If they cannot be measured then there is no way to know whether or not they are effective. They may even cause other unforeseen problems.

I actually think short-term athons are not the solution to deeper issues trying to address the question of our long-run trends.

I think Wikitree needs more clarity in its basic mission definitions. If accurate, good genealogy is not the one priority which rules all the things happening on Wikitree (like collecting legends or whatevers) it is basically not an aim at all. No amount of athons will fix it if that is not set in stone.

+17 votes
There's certainly nothing wrong with this concept, but at the risk of incurring another finger-shaking as a "derailer," I would just suggest that the implementation details are likely to completely determine success or failure.  Back in the day when non-members were permitted to post in G2G, we would see occasional posts from 'anonymous' saying "Your data for Ancestor Joe Smith is wrong, please correct it."  Those posts never included any source info, and often didn't even say what 'anonymous' believed the correct data to be.  There's no way of knowing whether 'anonymous' qualified as "genealogist," or if the manager of the profile in question ever saw the post.  There was no institutionalized way to handle such posts, and normally they just disappeared into oblivion with no action or response, and probably with a turned-off 'anonymous' who desired no further dealings with the site.

The new proposal has some similarities, and in order for it to work, the non-member genealogist who initiates a data correction is going to have to be satisfied that his input is valued, his time is worth it, and somebody will actually react.
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (484k points)

Pat Credit had a good suggestion - rather than "accuracy", why not "improving quality".  If the "year" was to promote improvements in accuracy and quality, then a 'Thon could be based on the improving aspect -- an Imp-a-Thon.

Melanie, Thank you.

It seemed like most of the suggestions made it more complicated then needed. Only a few would want to contribute. However, by keeping it simple enough that even newbies could improve a profile as they are getting started, many more would be contributing to Improving Quality on WikiTree.

Any WikiTreer could choose their preferred level of contribution anywhere from simple "Year of Improving Quality" by making the level of improvements in quality suited to the individual's ability/time constraints, to the more complicated improvements suggested under the "The Year of Accuracy" scenario.

With many more contributors WikiTree will get better and better and most everyone will see that there is a place for them on WikiTree.

Adding to the quality aspect --

This week, one of my profiles was chosen as a Profile of the Week and I’m really proud. It was nothing special, just my normal standard. I’ve always thought we should recognise quality rather than quantity. I’m not one for effusive praise and public acknowledgment, never mind points, but could we find a quiet way of recognising those great profile researchers and writers too?

Further thoughts - perhaps nominations (even self-nomination) to the Appreciation Team who could check a few profiles before awarding something to members producing defined quality work on a consistent basis. I’ve never seen much value in “appreciating” 1000 contributions when every profile created by that member is basically unsourced.


I agree with Fiona.  One of the profiles I adopted and on which I worked (quite hard) was also chosen -- and I was so chuffed!  You can't imagine how much that meant to me.  More than the monthly contribution badges (although I mostly earn those the hard way, too).  And, as with Fiona, it wasn't anything above what I would normally do.

There's an awful lot of work goes in "behind the scenes" to produce a profile that makes you proud of the work you have done - then to have others also see it and commend you for it.  So many hours and hours of research -- and not always alone.  There are times,  as for next week's POTW examples, when it is a collaborative effort to get to where you can feel you've accomplished something.   To have a profile's "end result" (we're  never really finished with them; there's always "one more thing" that we can add, or a typo we missed that shrieks at you even when other people don't notice it) be something a family member will look at and think "oh, I never knew . . . I never imagined".

I'm NOT a connector, although I do enjoy the challenge at times, but the feeling you get - the absolute RUSH - when you finally find that one last link in a chain; and you KNOW you have it "right", that the relationships are true, that the sources match the person, and not some name-alike.  It's wonderful. (And you send emails to your collaborator in large font, bolded text, and with a plethora of !!!!!!! (which are no longer allowed on g2g, so please forgive the example).)

And, before someone accuses me of threadjacking - - I'm not.  The above "ramble" falls under both accuracy, and improvement, which is part of the larger discussion.

The following was reposted here:

"Any WikiTreer could choose their preferred level of contribution anywhere from simple "Year of Improving Quality" by making the level of improvements in quality suited to the individual's ability/time constraints, to the more complicated improvements suggested under the "The Year of Accuracy" scenario."

I think in general athons aim at quantity targets not quality targets. They can very easily go wrong and reduce quality.

I think therefore that the point Denis made at the top of this sub-thread has been treated unfairly, and deserves more consideration.

Saying that a project needs a good definition or else it might not work is not negativity. That's the kind of feedback you should want Chris, because that is the kind that is thinking about what can go wrong, and how to avoid that.
All of our marathon events have improved quality on WikiTree.

Here's a new thread for discussing Correct-a-Thon ideas:

Maybe a silly question but I honestly don't know: is there some standard way of measuring quality on Wikitree, and are there studies done after such actions to measure the results in terms of quality, rather than quantity (such as number of edits done)? How would we do that?

For example, if a marathon leads to thousands of exact-looking, but fake, birth places being inserted into profiles, would we as a community have ways of picking that up and not being fooled into a false sense of contentment at the large number of new birth places?
Hi Andrew,

I am sorry to say, I have not read most of your posts. There appear to be a lot of them. I appreciate your energy and enthusiasm. Thank you for that. But with so many posts I can't even read most of them, let alone reply thoughtfully. This is part of why we have discussion rule #4. You're going at a speed at which others can't keep up.

Regarding this one narrow topic, about the results of marathon events, you really should post about this separately. This is something that a lot of members have given thought to. But most won't even see your message here. If you take some time and compose a good message on the topic, you'll generate some thought and get responses, especially if you present things in a positive way. I believe that the more positive and thoughtful you can be, the more positive and productive will be the replies.

Please be patient, though. Ales will be one of the best people to answer you about the data analysis, but he is very busy.


Chris, you made a simple claim. I asked a simple question.

I now come to my simple conclusions, for the time being. I'm open to better discussion, if it should be possible.

It is in any case always up to us to prove our claims, not the people who ask us questions.

ago by Chris Whitten:

"All of our marathon events have improved quality on WikiTree."

This may be accurate for most of the contributions made, however, during most thons when any profiles on my watchlist are changed, I've had to correct mistakes. Luckily, those profiles which I "watchover" are not changed often. I only recall once when the change was done well. It inspired me to make more improvements. Once I had someone put the same indexed census record on the entire large family. The entire family had to be changed. That was the only year I made a point to add unsourced tag to many of my "Watched over" profiles.

I wish there was a way that PM's could report poorly done contributions made during "Thons" to compare total contributions to net contributions in a way that they could learn from their mistakes.

+17 votes
This is a great goal for the year!  The PGM project has accuracy for profiles uppermost in our minds as well.

Thank you, Eowyn and Chris.

Cheryl, PGM Leader
by Cheryl Skordahl G2G6 Pilot (250k points)
+15 votes

Before I can answer your question, I have questions and comments.

I have been a member of WikiTree for just over a year, I decided to put my family history on WikiTree because family members were unable to access the family history on Ancestry. I have been actively researching family history for 10+ years. I don't know a lot about many of the tools that are available on WikiTree. All of the profiles I have created are sourced, though as I have been recently reminded, they don't have inline sources and many do not currently have online sources. They do have named sources with enough information to find the source. It is a work in progress.  

Some questions: knowing the answers would help me make suggestions about The Year of Accuracy. 

1. How many active PMs do we have, there probably is an official definition, I think that someone that has not contributed anything in 12 months is not active. In that case the profiles they manage should be orphaned. The original PM can still edit those profiles if they return to WikiTree. 

I recently adopted almost 200 profiles that a distant relative created by Gedcom upload in Jan 2012, they had not been edited since that time. I have all the needed information and more than enough sources to create Genealogically Defined profiles but it takes time to do that. 

One of those profiles was recently edited by someone who added unsourced inaccurate information copied directly from other online trees. This does not help. 

2. Do we have 'an exit interview' for members who decide to leave WikiTree? As opposed to those who retire from active involvement after a number of years. 

I have seen a number of G2G posts where members complain about 'other people messing with my tree' and they leave because they don't understand a Wiki. 

3. Do we know why people join WikiTree? Do new members think that WikiTree is the same as many paid sites, but it's free? 

4. Do we have any idea if the profiles on WikiTree are better than the equivalent on other paid sites?  Judging by the number of completely unsourced and copied trees on other sites I hope we are better. 

Re Judy G Russell, the Legal Genealogist, said this a few days ago

What Wikitree has me linked to as "my" family is laughable. And getting worse every day.

If we are going to use this as an example and something that needs fixing in order to make a public example of accuracy, we need to know what Ms Russell sees as inaccuracies. Is WikiTree the only site to have a family history accurate or not for Ms Russell or are we the only one that has an easily accessible tree? 

5. But are we the current active members thought to be held collectively responsible for the accuracy of all profiles? 

WikiTree actively encourages members to provide sources for each and every profile they create, however enforcing this I think is almost impossible.  

While many WikiTreers are intent on creating accurate profiles with proper sources, my gut feel is that most members just want a place to stash information about their ancestors, even if it is only based on what great grandmother Maggie said. They aren't interested in doing collaborative genealogy 

I note the comments made by W Robertson about last edit dates.

There are 119 last edited in 2009 - https://wikitree.sdms.si/default.htm?report=srch1&Query=lastedit2009+open&MaxProfiles=500&SortOrder=BiDa&PageSize=500 -- so we should be able to do these

More daunting is 2010, which has 71,388 last edited in that year - https://wikitree.sdms.si/default.htm?report=srch1&Query=lastedit2010+open&MaxProfiles=100000&SortOrder=BiLoc&PageSize=500 

6. Who are the people who will improve these profiles? I know that there are individuals and groups that work on profile improvement; this is a huge task.  

by M Ross G2G6 Pilot (469k points)
I do most days.
Sorry Eowyn I added to my post.
The marathon is just one small part of what we are talking about. It seems to be the part that you've focused on but we are talking about more than that. You may not like the marathons but a lot of members do.  But this isn't just about that.

As for what next, I'm going to refer again to this page: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Help:Communication_Before_Editing.  I feel like we've laid out what you are asking about there.
Also, just a small nuance, but you said above about whether or not you can call people wrong - we aren't here to call people wrong or right. We are here to determine if the information on the profile is correct or not.  Focusing on "people are wrong" maybe isn't the right way to look at it. Information is wrong and can be fixed. In the end it's the sources that determine that.

Melanie, just rethinking this again: 

"Unsourced" based on oral stories, family tradition, etc, is allowed if in your lifetime (i.e. you knew the person).

Yes you are right, if you knew the person; however it is the unsourced family trees that go back several generations and that the person who is creating the family history here on WikiTree could not possibly have known, that should not and I believe are not acceptable as sources. 

I have family trees on Ancestry and I cannot use Ancestry Ross Family Tree as a source. I can use the sources that support that tree as sources here on WikiTree.

Edit: Typos

The only responses that are approved here are for already busy people, who currently contribute daily or almost daily, to say they are going to take on more work fixing someone else's mess. Any suggestion that WT be more proactive is deemed to be negative. It gets voted down and sometimes flagged to remove it.

It doesn't take a mathematical genius to work out that on its current trajectory, WT is not sustainable. Hardly a week goes by without Ales adding another problem to the Data Doctors report. Current WT policy allows bad researchers to create heaps of rubbish in a very short time, but makes it very difficult for others to clean it up. Any attempt to point this out is met with a link to the Developing New Rules page, or as I prefer to call it, "playing the shut up card". The new discussion rules were intended to promote groupthink and shut down anyone who points out uncomfortable truths. In the last thread they were clearly voted down, but adopted anyway, which makes a mockery of the process for developing new rules.

I was attracted to WT because the Honor Code says we care about accuracy and we source. Current policies are not consistent with that. Genealogists elsewhere are very aware of this inconsistency, hence the reason they aren't here banging their heads against a brick wall, trying to fix up errors. People who have made several thousand contributions are well beyond the stage of using "unsourced family tree handed down to" as a source, yet are allowed to continue doing it. The practice of sourcing thoroughly, not just one source on a profile but sourcing as many events as possible, helps to find errors. If family historians sourced properly instead of relying on family trees or FindAGrave memorials to create their profiles, it would prevent a lot of errors from proliferation. It is far more efficient to do that up front, by someone who has developed an interest in the family, than for a complete stranger to come in cold and patch up the mess later. It also benefits the research of the family historian to encourage them to delve into original records and helps to teach them how to research. Not requiring sources isn't doing anyone any favours.

On the topic of accuracy, and of sourcing thoroughly being able to highlight errors :

The practice of sourcing thoroughly, not just one source on a profile but sourcing as many events as possible, helps to find errors. If family historians sourced properly instead of relying on family trees or FindAGrave memorials to create their profiles, it would prevent a lot of errors from proliferation. It is far more efficient to do that up front, by someone who has developed an interest in the family, than for a complete stranger to come in cold and patch up the mess later. It also benefits the research of the family historian to encourage them to delve into original records and helps to teach them how to research. Not requiring sources isn't doing anyone any favours.


I am in the final stages of preparing to add a profile that contradicts at least two or more "family trees" on ancestry which have the same errors.  (Leandra, this is related to those profiles we were working on the other day.)

I am absolutely certain I have right person and the right dates, so I will be placing a disclaimer AND Research Notes to explain what I have done, and how I came to my conclusion/s. 

"Focusing on "people are wrong" maybe isn't the right way to look at it. Information is wrong and can be fixed. In the end it's the sources that determine that."

I agree, Eowyn. However people are not required to add sources to post-1700 profiles. The profile creation form even encourages the cop out "unsourced family tree handed down". If the sources were required, it would prevent a lot of cases getting to the stage where people view attempts to fix inaccuracies as being told they are wrong.

Eowyn, I totally agree with the basic idea of the well known mantra concerning best practice in debating which you mention, but let me give it a better wording:

We should criticize problems, and avoid criticizing the people who we think caused those problems as much as possible.

Many communities including Wikitree have such rules, but worded in different ways and interpreted in different ways. A very common dysfunctional version, is when people who's work has been criticized are allowed to distract in an argumentative way by arguing that if anyone criticizes them they are breaking the rule that the teacher gave them. In other words they try to get the authorities to intervene against whoever was being critical.

Of course most grown-up communities then tell such a person to grow-up and be constructive. But not Wikitree.

I've recently seen this in action.

So, what this means is that yes, on Wikitree it is not safe to criticize an edit, or a formatting decision, or whatever. Wikitree's highest powers will intervene against any such person, and not against the person who did whatever others criticized.

That is not an organizational culture which can ever see quality as its highest aim.

In fact, if we think about what people are saying in many of these posts, one of the biggest concerns they have is about people who don't know better. So the challenge is teaching them. This means telling people that currently they are systematically do things badly. Of course we want to be polite, but we have to say something.

We also need to say such things to many of the older more experienced editors, many of whom are not working according to the same norms as others. These people in particular are unlikely to take advice in a friendly way, which means you sometimes actually do have to say: this way is the wrong way, and you have to do better.

And as I understand it, this is forbidden. Don't ask me to explain it.
Concerning your other reply, I think it is inaccurate to say that marathons are only a small part of what is being proposed. I'd say marathons and similar (hard to draw a line) are the main type of thing being proposed. I think we all also realize these types of actions are the favored ones.

Of course there are other ideas being discussed. I've mentioned my approval of some. In fact, I've also made some very important suggestions, IMHO.

Primarily I think that Wikitree needs to make sure accuracy (or even better, quality genealogy) very publically becomes the aim that guides all other aims, and gets selected whenever there is a conflict between aims.

I think without this then whatever everyone does will continue to involve everyone setting their own definitions of what we're doing. We might get very accurate profiles about Norse gods perhaps? Or perhaps we already have that.

...That is keeping it short. :)
+20 votes
Accuracy is always a good goal.  For that very reason I'd be opposed to attaching a year to it.  If 2021 is the Year of Accuracy, does that mean in 2022 we can say, "whew, sure glad that's over"?
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (402k points)

It could always be "The Year of Upgrading Our Level of Accuracy" -- although some would still see that as something only for that year.

I don't know that there is a brief / catchy way of saying "we care about accuracy ALL the time, but we're making an extra effort right now", and not have people do the "whew, sure glad that's over" sigh of relief on the 31st December / 1st January.

Jack, I think the focus for 2022 could shift to another Honor Code point.  2020 seems to be the Year of Courtesy.  Maybe 2022 can be the Year of Inevitable Misunderstandings?  smiley

Love it!  Too bad I can't make a comment a Best Answer.  But then that might be inevitably misunderstood!
Right, Melanie. It's an idea for a promotional theme. An excuse to do some challenges and pay attention to an important part of our mission, and a marketing hook.
+17 votes
a very good idea
by Ann-Marie Hamblett G2G6 Pilot (103k points)
+22 votes
I joined Wikitree because the goals of biography as complete and well written as possible and information and family connections sourced agree with my personal goals for what I would like to leave for future researchers to build on.

I  am always excited to check the numbers when the total approaches another million milestone.   What I really would like to know is how many are well sourced.   If I recall correctly the last count was 13% and that was only profiles with three sources.   I can't see us being able to check accuracy  questions from the outside when we don't have enough volunteers to fix this obvious accuracy  issue.  The profile information and connections may or may not be accurate but the only way to know for sure is to have sources.

My personal 2021 goal is to review my early profiles and update the source citations.  I have learned a lot in the six years I have been here.

Good luck with your plans.  I am all for anything that will improve accuracy and  Wikitree's standing in public perception.
by Cherry Duve G2G6 Mach 6 (61.3k points)
edited by Cherry Duve
This is also a goal I'd like to tackle myself.  Sourcing is my biggest "downfall."  Ever since discovering Wiki, I've wanted to make it my mission to source everything, to help break away from that common error of copying errors in trees.

I do find that sourcing is a HUGE task in wiki though.  Maybe it's because I need to spend more time learning, but it's hard at this stage in life.  I'd love if wiki had an easy tool, to help create/fill in my source section.  

As in, if I provided the source, it would format it for me so that I could copy/paste to my source section.

Writing footnotes and bibliographies in school was my worst nightmare.

Are there easy tools like that already?  If not, is that something that can be created?  (These questions are for the community, not specifically to you Cherry.)

As in, if I provided the source, it would format it for me so that I could copy/paste to my source section.

 Are there easy tools like that already?  If not, is that something that can be created?  (These questions are for the community, not specifically to you Cherry.)


The "tool" exists.  In edit mode on any profile, have your citation ready to paste (or already have it pasted and highlight it) and click the letter C

Thank you Paul!  I'll look into that.  I really appreciate you.
okay, messing around with that.  that's not exactly what I'm looking for.  What the "C" appears to do, is create the footnote.  

What I'm looking for as an ideal tool, is... let's say I have a census record from Ancestry...   I want a tool that I could fill in some blanks, and the tool would write the source out for me.  Formatted the way wiki prefers.  Then it'd paste it in my source section.  

Does that make sense?

Not to shut you down, but I think what you're asking deserves a thread all of its own, instead of being tacked on here where it risks derailing the discussion. 

I think you should ask it as a separate question.  smiley

of course, no worries.
I didn't mean to derail your plans.   As I said I am all for improving accuracy on the site.  My contribution is to be sure I have well written biographies with sources for what I  put here. Didn't realize the thread was only for people who agreed to have time to work on the project and I really didn't think improving accuracy had nothing to do with sources.
Cherry -- you're misreading my response to someone else.  There was, and is, nothing wrong with your answer.  It was the question about how to add sources that was the potential derailment.

One of our members created an app that creates citations from bits and pieces of Ancestry data. You can find it here https://apps.wikitree.com/apps/clarke11007/ancite.php

In case you haven't found the Apps Help page, give it a glace as there are a lot of helpful things available.

Werelate is set-up so that once anyone makes a citation once, everyone can use it. It is worth thinking about it even though it has not really worked. It needs to be simpler.

I sometimes think that we should be able to do short-form citation for commonly used sources by wikilinking to a special page with a short title. At least in medieval areas there are some very frequently used titles which already have special pages about them, but unfortunately those articles have very long titles. 

I'm not sure if redirects are possible on Wikitree?

Example: we sometimes have citations which are seriously 10 lines long, which even in academic works would be very short. For example an academic might just write Complete Peerage. I will not punish G2G by posting what Wikitree editors tend to do.

If academics don't want to be told every time what city a book was published in (for goodness sake) why on earth does Wikitree do it? It certainly has nothing to do with accuracy, copyright, plagiarism, and it has even less to do with good style or readability. 

Simple things like this could save a lot of time and make the "gravity" of Wikitree drag us in the accuracy direction.

+21 votes

Great idea! What about Quality? Accuracy infers that dates and connections are correct. Quality also encompasses the biography content and profile aesthetics/appearance.

React and respond to negative press and social media by creating a process to identify these items, engage the WikiTree community to investigate and improve the related family (perhaps via a G2G post that says why and who), and by follow up back to the negative poster that clearly demonstrates the power of collaborative and cooperative genealogy. Just fixing these goes nowhere without the follow up.

Although the 4 and 5 star profiles get more traffic, there are undoubtedly many that are just someone looking for great great grandma. Imagine your reaction if you found just an old GEDCOM, not cleaned up, imported from an unsourced Ancestry tree. Would that be incentive to look further into WikiTree or to encourage others to look? The same is true if grandma just pointed to a FamilySearch tree. Why not just go there? (If you are already here, you probably know that it is easier to incorporate sources from a variety of places and to collaborate with cousins.)

The idea of an automated process to open profiles born > 150 years ago or died < 100 years ago is great, if not already in place.

Ensure care with automatically deactivating profile managers. I have recently seen a few last active in 2017 or 2018 who have recently become active again. Perhaps an email that gives them a nudge -- are you still interested in WikiTree -- makes sense.

Involve the entire community in improving the tree. Remember that we have a diverse set of members with a diverse set of skills and interests. Some may be great at cleaning up and old GEDCOM, others at adding sources in the 1800s, others at addressing Medieval and Pre-1700 profiles, others at correcting those bad connections, others at a succinct biography with a couple of inline sources, others at creating a fully genealogically defined biography, and others at just minor formatting that makes biographies look better. All are valuable improvements.

How to capture and retain the interest of our diverse collaborative community throughout the year? A monthly challenge might not fit with an individual's skill sets or interest. Many like to earn points. This could be difficult to measure and might need to depend on each member to be honest in claiming points. What about a year long challenge, with a monthly update to keep interest? Points could be awarded for improvements, with the number of points based on the difficulty of the improvement. Each Data Doctor suggestion already has a level of difficulty that could be used to ascertain points. One point for adding a source; 2 points if previously unsourced or if added inline. Points for adding sufficient biography to move a bulleted source to an inline reference associated with a specific fact. Points for adding content to a (previously empty or sparse) biography? Points for connecting relatives. Points for adding a location that was previously empty. Points for cleaning up an old GEDCOM. Points for general cleanup that converts random lines under Sources into bulleted items. Lots of points for fixing a conflated profile.


by Kay Knight G2G6 Pilot (498k points)
Awarding points is an area where it is difficult to achieve a balance. We already have a contribution count on our profiles, and no doubt that is extremely important to some people. It can also be highly misleading. Some of those people with close to 200,000 contributions don't add good sources. Some of those people have over 1000 suggestions on their list, that are not profile completeness suggestions.
It can be seen from the Data Doctor weekly report before and after the clean-a-thon, that going for the low hanging fruit was popular for those who wanted the points. The suggestions that take less than 30 seconds to address are readily cleaned up, while the more time consuming errors are not so popular. Some of those serious data errors, like parents are dead long before the children are born, can take days of work to sort them out and clean up the conflated families. Some of those pre-1700 profiles have a team of people working for several days or longer on them, evaluating the evidence, searching through information that may not be available online. These are 5 star profiles, so they are Wikitree's advertisement to the outside world. It is extremely important that these profiles are accurate. There is no points scheme that truly reflects the amount of work that goes into fixing those errors.
Points are difficult, but how to measure?

Yes the 5star are important. I am among those who think that great great grandma from the 1800s is probably also important. What percent of the negative reactions are actually posted on social media? How can we motivate members to improve the tree, including members who can not, should not, or prefer not to work pre1700. There is no shortage of profiles that need improvement.
In order to motivate people to improve the tree, we need to know why they are here and what they consider important. The reinforcement that keeps them contributing here has to be something that motivates them, not what we think should motivate them, and not what motivates us.

The person who has bare minimum profiles here for cousin bait currently won't be motivated to do anything. We could inform them (via weekly emails) that the profiles they create are more likely to be picked up by Google and other search engines when they have correct spelling and grammar, a neat profile that is easy on the eye, and a short bio. To get the most out of their cousin bait, they need to do a little work.

Monthly challenges, points, and the like really only appeal to people who are already here doing a lot of work anyway. They aren't the ones who need the motivation and they don't have the time to clean up more profiles.

Perhaps there could be a campaign to encourage people to join a project. Greeters could encourage new members to join projects, based on the profiles they initially create. Project members collaborate, the project imparts useful information about profile requirements, sources, good research habits and how Wikitree works. Some projects have a training course, like the England Project's Orphan Trail. There are benefits to researchers by being in a project, even if they only work on the profiles they manage. There are benefits to all of Wikitree to have researchers in projects.

We also need to know what is driving members to leave, and address those issues.

You're a star, Kay. See my comments above about doing a G2G category for reporting and fixing particular mistakes. Maybe we could award a point for every mistake that's reported, and two for every one that's fixed. Or ...? I have reservations about making point systems too complicated.

Yes, points can quickly get out of hand....or become the wrong focus. Just thinking out loud with no idea how difficult this might be to implement. An annual running point count that is a cumulative total of each mistake reported plus (1 or more?) for each thing that can already be captured via the Challenge Tracker which would get connections, sources, suggestions.
+31 votes
There is another cycle at work, besides the 'virtuous' one mentioned in Chris's question.  That is:  New members create numerous profiles with inadequate or nonexistent sources, then get frustrated and stop using WikiTree, leaving the task of improving their low-quality profiles to the few thousand (maybe only few hundred) die-hard loyal WikiTreers who enjoy doing that.  The 'low bar' for post-1700 profiles encourages input to this cycle.

This cycle increases the total number of profiles, and the 750,000 total genealogists, so it looks great on the WikiTree home page.  Unfortunately, the more new members WikiTree succeeds in attracting, the more data feeds into this cycle.  At some point, if not already, the worker bees will fail to keep up.  In my opinion, it's not a sustainable strategy.

WikiTree data shows that about a quarter of our profiles are Unsourced.  That means a non-member googling for relatives has one chance in four of finding one with a disappointing profile on WikiTree.  If you want to improve the overall accuracy and quality of WikiTree profiles, you first have to stop or drastically slow the creation of new inaccurate profiles.  Continuing to entice new members with ease of dropping in their substandard work directly opposes the goal of improving accuracy in our shared tree.  You can't simultaneously attract new members with accurate, high-quality profiles of their distant cousins. Please, stop overloading the WikiTree error-correcting machinery and give it a chance to work.

I apologize if this sounds negative, but I think it needs saying.

Edited by request.
by Living Tardy G2G6 Pilot (734k points)
edited by Living Tardy
I agree with you wholeheartedly Herbert. I wanted to say the same thing but didn't know how to articulate it.

I will add that it's not just new members adding inadequate sources. I have been adopting some English profiles as part of a personal project I'm working on. I have found some long term members are creating profiles, only putting in a hyperlink to wikipedia.com or thepeerage.com etc and then orphaning them.

It's not that difficult to copy and paste a ready-made source citation from a number of free websites:

* The record collections at familysearch.org (worldwide)

* Findagrave.com (worldwide, there are many good ones there for modern profiles)

* Billiongraves.com (worldwide)

* British-history.ac.uk (three citation options BHO, Chicargo, MLA)

* Freereg.org.uk and Freecen.org.uk (will generate a source citation in several different formats including one specifically for WikiTree)

I don't know what the problem is. Lack of knowledge about where to go to find sources?

I also apologize if this sounds negative, but this needs saying too.

WikiTree has a 12 year history. We were very rough in the beginning and have improved slowly, collaboratively. Our quality has gotten better over the years, not worse.

I will continue to help improve the accuracy and quality of WikiTree hopefully well beyond 2021.
If quality is the PERMANENT mission, not an athon, we'll mentor people much more easily because we'll all be saying the same thing. And when we don't everyone will notice it.

Athons don't work for this type of problem. No two Wikitreers understand all these policies the same way, so it just means everyone doing large quantities of actions, allin different directions, to score points.
+14 votes

I hope WikiTree makes 2021 “The Year of Accuracy."  HOWEVER,  Uncertain parents should be marked as Uncertain and NOT detached from their child.  If they are detached then it is MUCH more difficult to use Y-DNA or mtDNA to confirm a legendary or uncertain relationship.

Thank you.

by Peter Roberts G2G6 Pilot (621k points)
Great point, Peter. Thank you.

I have some qualms about this idea.  In my travels along the WikiTree, I often come across Stewart/Stuart profiles where there are what look to be 5 different Y-DNA haplogroups - see this profile as an example.

Yesterday I came across this profile where there appear to be 3 different Y-DNA haplogroups.

Perhaps there are other explanations, but either there are a lot of NPEs in these families, or we have genealogies where some of the relationships between father and son are perhaps not confirmed and in the interests of accuracy should be detached.

Insufficiently matching Y-DNA reveals a NPE as intended.  I believe we need a “sticker” pointing out the genealogy needs correction due to the Y-DNA mismatch.  Additional Y-DNA testing can narrow down in which generation the NPE exists.
Strong disagree. I leave the wording to John. I add, looking at the bigger picture...

Sounds nice, but the reality which John and I see every day is that this approach will be anti-accuracy. I hope Chris will think about this one again.

We have to choose if we really believe in accuracy and quality or not. We can not have everything.

Related questions

+14 votes
2 answers
189 views asked May 30, 2021 in The Tree House by Mark Hough G2G6 Mach 2 (23.3k points)
+28 votes
9 answers
+3 votes
11 answers
+6 votes
3 answers
668 views asked Mar 28, 2022 in Policy and Style by Micheal McVey G2G Crew (310 points)
+9 votes
4 answers
219 views asked Jun 28, 2021 in The Tree House by Lorraine O'Dell G2G6 Mach 2 (24.8k points)
+18 votes
5 answers
255 views asked Mar 22, 2021 in Genealogy Help by Anonymous Baker G2G6 Mach 2 (23.9k points)
+10 votes
9 answers
213 views asked Dec 27, 2021 in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (2.0m points)
+11 votes
9 answers
+4 votes
10 answers
368 views asked Dec 13, 2021 in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (2.0m points)

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

disclaimer - terms - copyright