A modest and respectful proposal to quickly reduce the number of unresponsive profile managers

+52 votes

The longer wikitree exists, the more the volume of unresponsive profile managers will build up. A policy for dealing with this issue needs to be developed. They can cause problems for other users in a number of ways, all of which affect the quality of wikitree, such as:

  • inability to edit privacy locked profiles
  • inability to get on the trusted list of profiles
  • inability to fix Last Name at Birth errors
  • merges need to wait 30 days for default approval

Frustrating as this is, we also need to show respect and think the best of others. The following is my proposal.

Once a year, all wikitree users that have been inactive for eight or more years should be sent an email. The email should be upbeat and say something along the lines of "Since you were last active on wikitree the site has grown to include 25 million profiles, 83% of which are connected within 100 degrees of each other, quality is increasing month on month through......"

Once the emails have been sent there are two possible outcomes:

  • The email reaches the recipient: No further action
  • The email bounces: The user is removed as profile manager from all their profiles

(Optional) The email could also include in fine print at the bottom text about how to close your account at wikitree.

So, what do people think? Is it viable? Is it reasonable and respectful? Does it need tweaking? What would need to happen to get buy in from wikitree management who presumably would need to enact it?

One thing I like about this idea is that it may also encourage people to re-engage with wikitree.

in Policy and Style by Mark Dorney G2G6 Mach 5 (50.7k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
If you are proposing to remove the PM from profiles, it should be stated in the 'proposed email' to be sent that they will be removed if they do not respond or if they do not make some contributions.  

I agree that it would help for all of your stated reasons.  The profile doesn't need to be closed, so the 'locked' profiles could remain on wikitree, but removing the PM from the other profiles would help.

I would actually prefer to see it be more like 5 years of inactivity.
Hi Linda

My proposal is only to remove profile managers if the email doesn't reach it's destination. So if the email arrives in their inbox I wouldn't see the need to warn them of losing their profile management.

I guess to cover everything, if the first email bounced a second could be sent warning them they will be removed as profile manager.
I agree with Linda’s 5 year’s of inactivity. I would prefer that the PM reply that they wished to return to activity and would monitor profiles. When I was doing project check ins, if project members did not reply to a message on their profile within a set timeframe, they were removed from the project. (A couple of members got quite upset because they had ignored emails and were removed, so had to be reinstated.) I don’t see your proposal as any different, though it might be a huge amount of quite tedious work for someone.
Hi Fiona, part of my reasoning behind the suggested eight years was the amount of work involved, at least the first time it was done.

And I'm suggesting such a soft approach (not requiring opt in) because I've never seen a hint from wikitree management they were comfortable with a harder approach.

They do need to keep wikitree financially viable so I can only assume they think this is best for the brand and profile. I don't see it myself.

But it's a problem that's only going to get bigger with time.
I see your reasoning, Mark. I have had to put in a “Death of a Member” report as I discovered that a PM had passed away. Just out of interest, how long does it take for an inactive email account to be shut down?
Yahoo will delete after 12 months due to inactivity. Gmail is less clear. Any paid email service (say bundled with an internet sub) will presumably delete after payments stop.

Clearly an issue, but wikitree needs to start somewhere.

In another thread Chris Whitten is suggesting 2021 be the year of accuracy. Well, a lot of the shabbiest profiles are very early imports with "dump and run" profile managers.
8 years is a very long time, 1 year is rather short. But:

A lot of websites I am involved in require you to login at least once a year, or even change your password every once in a while (increased security). Login is a rather easy thing to do, saying: yes I am still responding. Such a simple action could be easily tracked and sift out the users that will not come back.
I do support taking action to remove inactive PMs. I do think it is reasonable to send a reminder email first. I disagree on the length of time. Five years is too long. I would prefer 12 months but I suspect the majority won't. Two years is long enough to tie up a profile that isn't being managed. Don't forget some people are reluctant to even edit profiles that are managed by others.
If 5 years can't be considered due to the amount of work involved, then it proves that inactive PMs are a huge problem.
Is there any way to find out how many PMs have been inactive for 5 years or more?
There must be a way to discover inactive PMs. I would imagine 95% would inactive, but most of them would have never actually gotten started and probably only manage their own profile and maybe a handful more.

Most useful would be to cross reference number of years inactive x number of profiles managed.

Can I suggest that you expand the proposal by spelling out what the benefits would be?

I understand it would mean that other users could adopt the profile, make edits (particularly to LNAB), merges and would it move certain profiles to open?

Can you also clarify please which profiles it would apply to? Specifically, how would it work for unlisted and private profiles?

Unlisted and private profiles can't be edited by anyone else, so no PM changes can be made 'unless' they meet the criteria to be opened, ie dead over 100 years or born over 150 years ago or 'children' births that would make a profile fit that criteria.
I have a profile in my direct paternal line that seems to be a GED "dump and run"... the surname is incorrect. The bizarre part is that the sources listed in the gedcom dump actually prove the surname is blatantly incorrect. I am getting the idea that some of these ged dumps are possibly creating a lot of work for others. Would it be sensible that dumps do not automatically take their uploader as profile manager but rather require the uploader to perform a bulk PM transfer into their name if they want the responsibility rather than have a heap of profiles being locked up indefinitely causing extra admin for no good reason? This would also have the added advantage of making sure the profile manager is at least superficially aware of the workings of Wikitree. I am not sure that same level of committment is shown by the "dumpers". Just a thought.
The previous process allowed massive Gedcom files to be 'dumped' into wikitree.  Now each record in the gedfile has to be compared first to see if there is already a record so that duplicates are not created. That process slows down the gedfile 'dump and run' now.  They have also now not allowed a profile to be loaded unless it has either birth or death date.

17 Answers

+20 votes
Best answer
We don't necessarily announce all our behind the scenes processes, but the Team does actively work on removing inactive members. We have several ways this happens.

One is the Unresponsive Profile Manager process, which has a few steps in place to make sure we don't close accounts for people like some have mentioned, who just need to be away for a period. I'll let Paul explain that a little more since he's the Team member who takes care of those.

We have an automated process which tracks email addresses from accounts which have started bouncing. After the email address has been returning mail to us undelivered for about a month and half, the person's newsletters get turned off and we post a message on the member's profile to let them know that we'll be closing the account if no action is taken. Usually, nothing happens on their end and we close the account, because they're genuinely no longer active. This process closes several accounts a day. Since we initiated it, we've had a handful of people who didn't realize their mail was bouncing or that they hadn't updated their WikiTree email address, and we helped them change it so they were available for collaboration again. The great majority of bouncing email accounts just aren't interested anymore.

The other thing we monitor is people who are marking our mail as spam. This one is a bit trickier. We get numerous reports each day that someone thinks our mail is not genuine, but instead is spam. We contact these people to make sure it wasn't an accident, as I know I personally have had WikiTree end up in my Spam folder and had to move it out because I certainly don't want it there. If we don't hear from them and we continue to receive the reports, their account is eventually closed. This also results in a number of closures each day.

Between the three processes we have in place, you'd be surprised with the constant flow of accounts that are reduced to limited watchlists or closed. To clarify on some of the responses people have mentioned, we are very serious about private profiles, so we try to look at watchlists to make sure private profiles are not orphaned but deleted, unless someone has specifically requested access to the profile or there are others on the watchlist who can manage it. Otherwise, anything that can be opened and orphaned, is, so that members can source and add family, and generally improve the tree.

It's hard to put a time limit on how long people are gone to decide they're no longer active. I see people regularly come back after several years, realizing they only now have time they hoped they had when they signed up, or they better understand research now. Paul's process has steps that help make sure we don't just close those accounts, as he reaches out to make sure those people understand what happens if they can't be reached. It seems like a hassle to some of you, but for those who have been part of the process on the other side, we need to be respectful and aware of the fact that real lives outside WikiTree draw us away. Tweaks may be beneficial, but we'd need to tread very carefully in removing people from WikiTree or reducing watchlists. We can't just put those back in place. It means nearly starting over in many cases.
by Abby Glann G2G6 Pilot (597k points)
selected by Robin Lee
Thank you for the explanation, Abby. I know this eases my mind, knowing how much you all are doing behind the scenes.
Thanks Abby - it's helpful to know all this. To make these discussions more productive in future, can I suggest you add some of this detail to the Unresponsive Profile Managers Policy, so people have a more complete picture when they propose changes.

Does this mean that the original (Mark) policy is moot, as it has essentially been implemented already (in practice)? Where does that leave the more radical Chase proposal and my in-the-middle proposal?
Hi Andrew,

Right now, we aren't making any changes to our procedures or policies. If we start to see an issue where what we're already doing isn't working, we'd consider something. But, it sounds like the issue is less that these accounts aren't getting closed and more that people find the UPM process tedious and don't use it/don't like using it. We take the steps we do in order to make sure that no one loses their work without plenty of chances to try to come back and fix whatever issue there is first, i.e. bouncing email or requests that haven't been responded to.

I'll look into what's on the UPM policy page and see if links to other policies such as bouncing email, need added.

I'm not sure you realise this Abby, but this discussion started because Chris specifically invited users to propose changes to policy. Your response seems to have closed the door on any changes before the discussion is even complete - not exactly a way to encourage engagement.

"If we start to see an issue where what we're already doing isn't working..."

Well, yes, why do you think this was proposed in the first place? Because it's not working.

It bothers me that WikiTree has only one means of reaching most of us: the email accounts that we have registered here. If a member loses access to that email account and forgets to register a new account here, they may lose their access to WikiTree.

I would feel better about the processes that remove inactive members if WikiTree allowed each of us to add multiple contact methods (additional email addresses, phone numbers, WhatsApp IDs, etc.) to a confidential record here.
Andrew: It is difficult to say a system needs changed when it isn't being used to begin with. Many people who have commented here have said they don't use the UPM process because it takes too long. But it's the best compromise to make sure account holders are given adequate time to respond. Some people are trying to get the accounts of dormant accounts of family and friends closed simply because they haven't made edits in X number of years. But, that's not how WikiTree works. I personally have a lengthy list of family and friends I research for who have made few contributions, if any, but are on numerous trusted lists and are not active. But they log in regularly to see updates. And some recently had their accounts closed, which was frustrating and alarming to both them and me as I had to go about reconstructing their watchlists and setting their accounts back up. The account was closed only because they hadn't made an edit in 6 years. But they'd be on WikiTree to look at family many times. The UPM process, if for some reason they manage a few profiles which isn't uncommon, should help alert the account holder, as well as shared PMs, so they have chances to prevent closure or make whatever changes need to happen. If everyone is using the UPM process and we still have dormant accounts that cannot be explained as either family member or a former member who is no longer interested and they aren't being closed, then a new process should be explored. From what I can see of the discussion here, it isn't that the UPM process isn't working. It's that people aren't using it.

Ellen: That's a good idea. Why don't you start a new thread with a proposal to add a few hidden fields to an active profile where that sort of information would be available to sysops for contact purposes.
@Abby, so your relatives are only on trusted lists and not managing profiles, yes? If that is correct, why are these accounts being prioritised ahead of UPM reports? People stop using the UPM process because it regularly takes several months to get any action. It's a reason why people leave here, because they can work on their own trees elsewhere unhindered. It's also a reason why some won't come here. Can this process really be considered to be working when it is denying WT of people who want to collaborate?

Why is someone who is only on a trusted list (save for their own profile) being prioritized? They shouldn't be, but certain members are making it sound as if those inactive accounts are somehow causing problems because they have watchlists. They are only being looked at, from what I understand, after UPMs that have come in are being processed.

UPMs are being processed accordingly. But, they take time. The initial email goes out and then we wait for a reply-there's no other action to take until we give those managers time to respond. The process sometimes takes months due to us making sure we aren't closing accounts that still have interested managers. If someone thinks their request is being overlooked, according the the timeline stated in the UPM procedure page, they just need to email and ask. The Team is comprised of part-time, real people. We all carry a heavy load and juggle many roles in order to keep WikiTree free and functioning. Sometimes, just like other humans, we need reminded of a request or something brought to our attention. If a UPM is taking longer than the time stated in the Help page, just let us know. It may be something filtered to an incorrect spot in our email or some other situation has arisen. I don't think people generally get refused access, but yes, they may need to wait awhile.
@Abby, I thought I read in another thread recently that only the PM receives the trusted list request. It doesn't go to the other people on the TL. If that is correct, perhaps that fact could be added to the UPM form to deter people from submitting reports against family members. It would have the added benefit of not adding to admin workload unnecessarily, and hopefully also shortening the waiting time for the genuine UPMs.
We'll look into it, Leandra.
+17 votes
There already is a policy for dealing with unresponsive managers. See https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Help:Unresponsive_Profile_Managers It allows PM's to be removed if they haven't made a contribution in over 60 days, but it requires several steps and is a bit of a hassle.

I suggest adding a policy to automatically remove PM's that haven't been active for 1 year. That would clear out a lot of them and reduce the hassle for both WT members and the team that has to deal with Unresponsive Manager requests.
by Chase Ashley G2G6 Pilot (258k points)
Chase, I've done numerous unresponsive manager requests and you're right that it is a bit of a hassle. I haven't done it for a while for precisely that reason.

Inactivity for one year is certainly a good proxy for lack of interest, although I have occasionally gotten a prompt response from people with no activity here for five plus years.

The reason I'm making a soft proposal is I want it to actually get up. The issue gets raised from time to time in G2G and wikitree management never gives the impression they accept it is an issue that needs dealing with even though it absolutely does.
I have had too many people re-engage after 18 months to suggest anything automatic at 1 year....

Perhaps, the message that is sent by the team as part of the Unresponsive Profile Manager process could be sent out to those who have been inactive for maybe 2-3 years?
I agree with Robin that it has to be longer than a year, especially with current situations, possible health issues, etc.  I have sent the multiple messages / trusted list in preparation of Unresponsive Manager process and gotten a response from people that were not active for 18 months to 2 years. They usually stated that they were no longer actively updating their wikitree profiles or logging into wikitree, which also means that they are not monitoring their profiles, but could be responding to merges or messages.
I agree that a long timeframe is best.  I know that I took a break from genealogy and Ancestry.com when my kids were born and were young.  Now that they’re teens, I got back into it...and discovered WT!  Now I’m addicted. lol

I am also on the other side, waiting to be able to connect my 3GR grandparents to one of their sons.  The PM hasn’t been active since 2012.
I think a year is too short a time frame. What if I started working on my profiles and then lost my job, or my father, or moved to Hawaiʻi? Those things could easily make me step back from WikiTree for a year. I like the five year idea.

I think this requires at least 2 emails and a specific time for the PM to respond, 3 months, 6 months, 2 weeks? Hard to say; what if I am in Bali for a month and cannot check my email. Or I am on a jury for 9 weeks and we cannot use the internet for that period?
If there are people who respond to an email after being inactive for 18 months, then they are also likely to respond to a reminder email that they are on the verge of being removed as PM.

Surely the key word in Profile Manager is manager. If a PM isn't here for 18 months, the profile is not being managed.
@Lynette: If you're waiting to connect one of your 3g grandparents, then at that far back, you should just be able to do it yourself, if it's an Open profile to connect to. You don't need permission to do it. Just add sources to show the connection when you do it.
@Eric The profile is Public, but not Open.  Nels Peter Nelson (my Gr-Gr grandfather’s brother), b. About 1884, d. About 1970.  Not able to connect Nels to the rest of the family.
I wouldn't do it for one year....a bit longer...but yeah, I agree. I'm curious how many active members we actually have. Is there a way to find out? Active versus inactive and how many inactive members who haven't even logged on in five years, or eight as the figure Mark brought up?
+22 votes
An annual upbeat email talking about growth is a good idea.  Sending it to every member who has been inactive during the year or other period is a good idea.  

The email should acknowledge that the member has been inactive for n period of time and invite them back with a message like, "You've been missed..."

It should acknowledge they may not be able to continue and contain a link to the Bulk Profile Manager Changes page: https://www.wikitree.com/index.php?title=Special:ManagerChanges&action=remove&object_email=YourEmail@email.com

It should explain how to suspend an account.

Automatically removing inactive managers whose email address bounces is a good idea.  But try again after a bounce.  The bounce may be a mistake.  Try other methods of communicating, like posting a message to their profile.

Removal should take the form of removing them as managers of their list of managed profiles.  It should not take the form of closing or deleting their account.  

A setting should be added to the Email section of Settings.  By default could be set to "Send annual report of activity.  Remove me from profile manager of my managed profiles if email bounces."

Automatically closing, suspending, or deleting member accounts is a terrible idea.
by Peggy McMath G2G6 Mach 4 (41.9k points)
Hi Peggy

Thanks for you excellent fleshing out of my proposal.

Now, how do we get wikitree management to take notice?
+7 votes

I agree with Peggy that automatically closing, suspending, or deleting member accounts is a terrible idea. 

I would add that removing unresponsive managers as managers of profiles is also not good unless they are deceased. They are first of all legit "marketing" targets through notifications, newsletters etc.

You never know why they are unresponsive. It could be health, economic factors, family commitments to name but a few.

Should a manager be labelled unresponsive, then those profiles can be co-managed without any detriment to anybody or Wikitree. As a new co-manager works on the profiles new notifications are generated which might inspire the unresponsive manager to return.

by Louis Heyman G2G6 Mach 7 (77.2k points)
If a PM is unresponsive, there is no way to be added to the Trusted List to be a co-manager, which is needed to change LNAB, or to merge or source profiles if the profile is locked. The Unresponsive Manager process requires that 3 different methods were used to try to get a response from the PM.  Then Admin also sends messages to the PM before the profile is orphaned.
Hi Linda, with respect to your opinion that their is no way, but have you ever thought of how the unresponsive manager gets removed? It is just a question of permissions to do stuff on WikiTree. In stead of removing a manager, rather add a co-manager using that same permissions.

Edit: Another example: Project Leaders use similar permissions to add project accounts to profiles.
I agree that it would be a good idea for admin to add a co-PM for Unresponsive Managers, instead of orphaning the profile.  I was just stating that the current policy for Unresponsive Manager process is needed.  I have proposed merges with profiles that are locked and Admin has completed merges, once the 30 day default period has occurred.
+18 votes

I support your proposal.

People seem to get bogged down in the numbers. 8 years, 5 years, 1 year of inactivity. 1 email, 2 emails sent. etc.

I don't really care about the numbers. I agree on the general principle that after some level of inactivity, the person should be checked on. If there isn't some sort of acknowledgement in some sort of time frame, then remove the person as PM from their profiles. This allows others to take over to help maintain WikiTree.

I don't care what the some numbers are. Pick something reasonable to move forward with it.

My only suggestion is that instead of a yearly event, I would prefer it be done on a quarterly frequency.

by Eric Weddington G2G6 Pilot (410k points)
I think your approach makes a lot of sense. What would you do with living and private profiles?
All I have done is support the proposal in the original post. But until WikiTree is actually serious about making any changes in this area, it really doesn't matter what I think. Many proposals have been made in the past, yet WikiTree has not changed anything in this area.
+14 votes
Couldn't there be some sort of inactivity flag that gets added to a member after a certain period of inactivity?  I would envision that profiles managed exclusively by "inactive members" could be adopted or modified as any orphaned profile would be.  Then, if the inactive member returns, they would just automatically be reinstated as an "active member" and resume management or co-management of their original profiles.  No account deletion or suspension required, and doesn't really punish long hiatuses.
by Brian Lamothe G2G6 Mach 3 (34.2k points)
edited by Brian Lamothe
I'm not sure what the technical requirements are, but I would certainly agree that we should allow open profiles managed only by inactive PMs to be available for adoption in the same way that orphaned profiles are.
I'm not sure of the programming limitations, but I wonder if there is some way to identify inactive PMs (and by inactive it's probably something like hasn't logged on in X months or made any contributions in X months) and if a PM is inactive then others can add themselves as PM or to the Trusted List without needing approval from the inactive PM.

It would work like an orphaned profile, but the inactive PM isn't automatically removed.

I think that would get at the underlying thing that most of us want: To be added as PM or Trusted without having to jump through a bunch of hoops and weeks (or months) long delays when the PM is nowhere to be found. And it also doesn't "penalize" PMs who may be taking a hiatus, which seems to be a big concern for some people.
+11 votes

I disagree.  I have experience of at least one lady who wasn't responding for the longest time, and when she finally did respond, i learned she had been dealing with severe health issues for 2 years, and was just then getting back into her activities.

I have also often sent various requests to PMs who from their profiles appeared inactive for many years, they responded fairly quickly to my requests, so obviously are still connected.

The shoe should be on the other foot.  A PM only gets removed for ''just cause''.  Not on some general timeline.  Some people take a break from tree-climbing for a while and later get back into it.

by Danielle Liard G2G6 Pilot (514k points)
Hi Danielle, thanks for your comments.

Under current protocols an individual can make several attempts to contact a profile manager and then file an unresponsive manager request and they can get removed as manager all within a month or so. They need only to have been inactive for 60 days for this process to occur. So the individual you refer to could easily have lost their profiles if someone had been less patient than yourself under current rules.

If people are responding fairly quickly to your requests then messages are clearly reaching their email account and they would be in no danger of losing their profiles under my proposal.

Broadly speaking most people who have been inactive for 8+ years aren't coming back. To me the greater good is freeing up profiles for improvement than upsetting the 1 in 100 person who was just busy elsewhere.
Hi Mark, I have seen an example of a member returning after seven or eight years, I myself took four years.
There are oodles of open profiles that need work, and they can be edited by other members without being a PM or TL.  The actual percentage of locked profiles due to privacy is relatively small.  I don't think it's a good idea at all to push for locked profiles to be opened on some arbitrary timeline of activity of the PM.
This isn't about "punishing" someone who isn't active - it's just about allowing someone else to step up and help with the profiles.

Specifically, whilst someone else can edit the profile, you can't merge them and you can't change the LNAB. Those tend to be the two biggest technical sticking points with unresponsive managers (along with the reticence to amend managed profiles due to the Communication before Editing Policy)
If people aren't logging in to WT for several years, there could be all sorts of edits happening to their managed profiles and they have no idea it is happening. Why is it that no one seems to care about that, but there's a big fuss whenever removing inactive PMs is suggested? That says to me that profile management has nothing to do with management and everything to do with control. There is no place for such control in a shared tree. For all we know, the PM could be dead. Are we going to keep them in place for 20+ years because people are terrified of giving up their control?

 "Why is it that no one seems to care about that"

If the system only allowed sole management of a profile by a single member, there might have been merrit to your concern.

It is really very difficult to satisfy everybody in a collabarotive environment.
The Unresponsive Profile Manager process is available to address the problem of access to profiles whose managers are absent and are not responding to requests.

I confess to some reluctance to use the Unresponsive Profile Manager (UPM) process. It can lead to an account being closed for lack of response, in which case the privacy-protected profiles get deleted (this could be counter-productive when the requestor was interested in working on those profiles). And WikiTree has only one means of reaching most of us: the email accounts that we have registered here. If a member loses access to that email account and forgets to register a new account here, they may lose their access to WikiTree.  I would feel better about the UPM process if WikiTree allowed each of us to add multiple contact methods (additional email addresses, phone numbers, WhatsApp IDs, etc.) to a confidential record here.
+16 votes

I agree with this proposal in general. 8 Years is more than a reasonable amount of time to expect activity on a website. How many people, being inactive on a website for 8 years plan to come back soon? If a member hasn't shown up for more than a couple of years, they don't really care about their profiles enough to care if they are removed as PM. For those who have to be away for awhile, they usually at least respond to merge requests or they have a co-PM on their own account. I think 1-2 years is too short a time because life happens. 

I also like Peggy's suggestion of sending an upbeat message to start with--"We've missed you. Your ancestors have missed you." Hopefully this brings back activity. But if not, there should be a process--they didn't respond, so this is the next action we take. They still don't respond, close the account and/or remove as PM from profiles. How many websites still allow accounts being open after 8 years of inactivity?

And if a member decides to come back later after their living profiles have been deleted and family profiles have been opened? All they have to do is recreate their profile and hook back in to their family lines. Ancestors will always be here.

If we care about accuracy, we've got to start paying attention to these green locked profiles dumped years ago that are gumming up the works!

by Emma MacBeath G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
Waiting 30 days for a merge isn't the point. The fact we have thousands upon thousands of profiles that we haven't been able to source, improve or edit in over 5 years is the problem. These profiles just keep stacking up and are making the Tree unwell. Those of use who are working on an entire family line at a time would like to improve these profiles while we're on that line and have the sources in front of us, not 60 days later when we've moved on to something else.
Emma, I agree. Inactive PM's should be removed, profiles opened so we can cleanup, merge and source those hundreds of thousands profiles. I am going to be generous here and say if a PM hasn't been active in 2+ years, cut them loose.
Why can't people just get over their irrational fear of losing control? Anyone who isn't here for 2 years doesn't care enough to be here. They're not checking in to see the incorrect relatives attached to their profiles and the altered information to something that is incorrect. It doesn't take much effort to put a note on one's profile indicating that pressing concerns are taking them away from WT for a few months. Nobody has anything so pressing as to take them away from WT for 2+ years, without getting a few minutes somewhere to add a note to their profile, unless they're in a persistent vegetative state, in which case they won't be back anyway.

I agree, if Chris wants 2021 to be the Year of Accuracy, something will have to be done about the inactive PM's. They are in effect preventing volunteers from cleaning, merging and correcting misinformation. 2 years is more than enough time for them to answer a question, make a change or add to the tree. I maybe wrong but i thought I read somewhere it was 60 days for an Unresponsive PM. I keep hoping that we will see a major shift in how things get done on WikiTree. From a constructive view, why does one remove a spoiled apple from the crate? Because it will spoiled the rest of the apples faster. Don't allow inactive PM's spoil WikiTree for the rest of us. Please!
Loretta, last year I did some check ins for a project to remove inactive project members. There were three messages over a month or so, I think, before project membership was removed. Even after three messages, some people got quite irate when their project membership was removed - and that doesn’t include all the sad stories I heard about why members weren’t currently active. Two years and failing to answer several emails is ample time.
They don't even need to have their membership removed. So long as they aren't preventing others from getting on with the job, it makes no difference to anyone else whether or not they have an account. It is unreasonable to expect to keep a job that one isn't doing.
I don't see Leandra's reply as venting. No more than a robust opinion. Seen plenty similar that never gets flagged.
Actually Leandra, I know one lady who was pretty much absent for 2 years due to health issues, she's better now and back in action.

Emma, you say for unresponsive people, WikiTree should "close the account and/or remove as PM."

There is a big difference between removing someone as PM and removing them from WikiTree altogether.  What reason can there be to throw them off WT?  Is an inactive member hurting anyone?

Hi Julie, I'm just talking out loud and thinking through possibilities. We don't have to close their accounts, but I know it is sometimes done, especially if their email bounces. My bottom line is we need to make these older profiles available for editing. It doesn't matter to me how that happens as long as it happens.
+7 votes
After a member's account is closed, their profile is deleted and all their Private profiles are deleted. They cannot open a new account and family members (I assume any members) cannot enter a profile for them.  It seems it is assumed that deleting an account is an act to enforce the privacy of the deleted member.  Refer to: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Help:Closing_an_Account#Option_One:_Close_Account_and_Anonymize_Profile

This is not an answer to the original problem, which is that neglected profiles need an active profile manager.  All changes to the manager's status seem punitive.

It seems to me a new status for neglected profiles can be created.  When a Profile Manager is inactive, the managed profiles should become available to be co-managed as happens when profiles are merged.  This profile management status would not cause profiles to be "orphaned" for "adoption."  We could call it "fostering" these neglected profiles.  The status of the original manager remains unchanged (still the profile manager) while the "foster" manager acquires the rights and responsibilities of manager, too.  All this assumes the careful and polite measures originally proposed and expanded upon in this thread.
by Peggy McMath G2G6 Mach 4 (41.9k points)
Answering the first question, returning members create new accounts all the time. This is different from members who have been asked to leave the website due to disciplinary action. They aren't allowed to create new accounts.
The proposal is to orphan the profiles, not delete the PM's account. This is a universal tree that requires collaboration. Profile management involves coordinating contributions from multiple members, if there are multiple members interested in that profile. It also involves examining evidence when facts are disputed. To expect to retain management of a profile when one disappears into the wild blue yonder for years is an indication that the primary objective of the PM is one of control rather than of management. Being controlling is not a good fit in a collaborative environment. The system is currently punitive to the people who are taking on tasks beyond their own managed profiles.
I agree, we should be orphaning the open profiles (and potentially opening the private non-living ones), not deleting the account. That deals with the specific motivation behind the proposal.
+16 votes
I think we should have a membership status for Inactive members. If a member has been inactive for a year or they have an Unresponsive Manager request done on them then a badge or sticker is applied to their profiles. Any "Public" privacy level profiles are immediately moved to "Open" privacy level. That step would open up the profiles that are locked yet have all info shown so no real privacy concerns.

Any Private profiles can be available to be Co-managed with a request to the Wikitree team. A block can be put on the Private Profiles that any managers (Except by the Manager themselves) can not be removed from the trusted list of the private profiles for say another two years after the original manager was placed on an Inactive status. Having these steps prevent the Private profiles from deletion which would occur if someone used the "Unresponsive Profile Manager" process but didn't want to take responsibility for all the private profiles of the inactive manager and keep the Inactive manager on the trusted list if they come back within two years of getting placed on the inactive status preventing them getting kicked off profiles.

These two steps would open for editing the profiles that are locked because of an Inactive manager yet also allow the Inactive manager to come back with their watchlists intact as they couldn't be removed from profiles for three years after their last activity.

No profiles should ever be deleted because someone is inactive but that can occur currently if the Unresponsive Profile Manager process is used for Private profiles which could be privacy locked but may be the link between connected profiles.

Of course my One year/ Two years can be adjusted but it shouldn't be too long a time as there is an Unresponsive Profile Manager process which can be done within 67 days of the first message or trusted list request.
by Darren Kellett G2G6 Pilot (244k points)
noooo, moving privacy levels like that should not be an automatic thing.
I think this is a great solution! It keeps the person's tree intact if they do come back a couple of years later. And if part of the process is a regular set of emails letting them know WikITree will place them on inactive status if they don't have activity, then an email saying they are in inactive status, etc., the member has every chance to log in to their account or make sure they are checking their emails.

One of the main issues with these profiles is the member isn't even responding to emails for merges, trusted list requests, etc.
Danielle, it's already automatic when an unresponsive manager request is sent in. All the PMs profiles are opened and orphaned. Darren is suggesting allowing them to remain as PM, but open the profile. That's the difference.
Adding to say, profiles for living people are deleted, not opened and orphaned.
+17 votes
Why not first change inactive PMs from being Profile Manager to just being on the Trusted List ?  That way, if they come back, they still have access to the profile they previously managed on behalf of WikiTree, and still have a watchlist.
by Joe Farler G2G6 Pilot (136k points)
I think such a proposal could have support, though I am not aware of a function currently that could do that in bulk. But it has a lot of merrit opposed to removal. It also makes the profiles available for adoption. Appointing a co-manager can be done in bulk at present.
+22 votes
Some background for context.
There is a small number of people who have uploaded a tree as a completed work. They just want a place for it to reside. They may have been inactive for many years in some cases, until someone contacts them.

Contacting people often involves a wait. We can't assume they will be available right away, not everyone checks their email while on holidays, for example. To just orphan their profiles without giving them the courtesy of waiting for their reply only creates bad feeling, and possibly bad press for WikiTree. The Team members have to strike a balance. Having said all that, sometimes we see

Some Private Messages or Comments on Profiles will be seen as Spam by some email filters., whereas a direct email from a Team member usually gets through. I have often had comments from the profile manager (after a forwarded UPM) that they have not had any contact.

There is another problem with closing some accounts (and orphaning profiles) where the Profile Manager has a large amount of undated profiles. Some of those may be living people and we have a duty to identify them and make them Private, or delete them if closing an account (or determining they should be orphaned if they are not living). This is mainly for WIkiTreers that joined before WikiTree introduced the requirement for either a birth or death date was introduced.

Regarding bounced emails and identifying inactive accounts, Abby will have more to say on that.
by Paul Bech G2G6 Mach 7 (72.7k points)
I would feel better about the UPM process if WikiTree did not depend on a single registered email address to reach a member. Ideally, WikiTree would  allow each of us to add multiple contact methods (additional email addresses, phone numbers, WhatsApp IDs, etc.) to a confidential registration record here, in case something goes awry with the registered email address.
+12 votes

Having forward leaning and transparent procedures for dealing with unresponsive PMs is a good idea. I have waited the 30 days to get a merge done, etc., but it is not unbearable. I have plenty of places to work on my family tree.

Without dealing with number of years, etc., why not simply make all accounts 're-up' once per year? This could be done with a simple email that makes us all respond in a positive way to indicate we are 'active'. That email could also provide interesting news about Wikitree progress below the re-up button. It should be short and to the point, making sure people read it.

I do not think we should drop accounts because of non-response. If they do not respond to the email after 2 or 3 (whatever), seems better to remove them as PMs and leave them on the trusted list. The idea of 'fostering' proposed above also has merit.

It is possible that the my next generations will want to carry on the work I have been doing on my family tree. And it would be a shame for all that to be lost. If we drop accounts and delete profiles, how do we every grow to the ultimate goal of a complete world tree?

It is my hope, that the Wikitree team will do something reasonable, as always.

by Richard Barton G2G6 Mach 1 (16.5k points)
I like the  "re-up" approach Richard!    Good direction to consider.
+8 votes
Mark's proposal (as I read it) is essentially to amend and expand the current Unresponsive Profile Managers Policy to proactively contact PMs after 8 years inactivity and to remove them if they bounce.

Chase's proposal (in his answer, if I've understood correctly) is to remove PMs automatically and without warning after one year of inactivity. Personally I think this goes too far (at least as an initial step). Plenty of people can be inactive for a year (particularly if they don't have any relatives on here) and still be responsive when the time comes.

I agree that 8 years in too long and would prefer 1 year - apart from anything else, we are more likely to be successful in getting PMs to re-engage if they have only been gone for a year. Sending someone an email (subject to the staff not objecting on resource or legal grounds) and  giving people a simple link in this email to turn all their non-living profiles into open orphans would, I think, be an effective and uncontroversial first step.
by Andrew Turvey G2G6 Mach 3 (37.9k points)
+8 votes
Inactive Profile Manager are different from Unresponsive Profile Managers IMHO.

I have updated an old proposal I did in 2017, now 3 years later ... ???

by Loretta Corbin G2G6 Pilot (225k points)
+7 votes
If someone is inactive for an extended period of time (2-3 years), maybe a message could be sent similar to what Mark is recommending (the softer approach). And if it bounces,  they are removed from all profiles except any closed ones that are within the 100-150 year mark as deemed by standards and privacy.

If after five-eight years, still no activity...if they are managing living profiles, well nobody can see them anyway - I'd recommend the removal of those profiles, simply for privacy reasons. This would involve a lot of profiles, I would imagine, but in all reality if you can't see anything, what value do they add, and if these people happen to pass away, how will we know if we don't know who they are? How do we know some of these people haven't already been duplicated all over the place and are set to living private profiles that aren't being indexed by the search engine or anywhere....are they still able to be compared with other anonymous living profiles?
by Raewyn Vincent G2G6 Mach 7 (70.5k points)
+7 votes
Let's work on a proposal to present to Chris.

* Inactive PM's - 2+ years of inactivity,
* Create a standard message, nice upbeat message asking for a response.
* If no response, Put the PM on the Trusted list, setup a WikiTree Account for Foster profiles (have a volunteer to check the account weekly for messages concerning merges, etc.,
* Living Profiles could be moved to a Secondary WikiTree Account for the living profiles and kept there say for a period of 5 to 8 years waiting on PM to become active again. This will maintain the integrity of their branch but would quarantine them from the main tree (volunteers can't do anything to them anyway), why not move them to a place where they will not clutter the main tree or the Suggestion report.

This method would require a lot less work. It would not delete any PM's or Profiles. It would make cleaning the tree much easier. It would make mergers much easier to complete. It would eliminate thousands if not hundreds of thousands suggestions from the Reports. Everything and everyone would remain intact, Just kept separately yet monitored from the main tree.

Does this sound like a reasonable solution for everyone involved?

Edited to add: Could this be a starting point for a proposal to Chris?

Edited for typo :)
by Loretta Corbin G2G6 Pilot (225k points)
For (maybe only mine) better understanding: Would dot three mean:

Move/change the current inactive profile manager to a member on the trusted list and add this new special (project?) account as the profile manager instead?
Michel, I believe the answer would be yes. Change PM to member on the trusted listed and I guess it would have to be a Project to Foster the profiles for that PM (now member) but we would have to separate the profiles that could be opened (leaving them in the main tree and accessible to others) from the profiles that must remain private in a separate area (because privacy would not allow others to work on them, so they should not be counted against the Tree's accuracy).

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