I am uncomfortable using "Unknown" as either a FIRST or LAST name to satisfy the program.

+1 vote
in Genealogy Help by Delroy Packer G2G Crew (400 points)
I don't know why "Unknown" is used on WikiTree, but there was an online discussion on another website by very dedicated genealogists. They said the reason "Unknown" was preferred was because translating programs could translate it to other languages where it would be understandable. If you don't have a standard rule, people wind up using different initials like "NN" (no name), FNU (First name unknown), etc. There needs to be a standard.
From a fellow genealogist point of view rather than a WIkiTree angle, to have Fred Smith married Daphne UNKNOWN shows that you have a bit of information missing, but would be grateful for someone to fill the blank for you.  So if someone comes up with a Fred Smith with the same details (birth/marriage/death) who is married to a Daphne Brown, the chances are this is your Fred and Daphne and you now have her surname.

I prefer to use UNKNOWN in Block Capitals on my genealogical software, as this shows up in printed lists of data.  If I have an unknown forename and surname, I normly leave the person empty, if I don't know one half of the name, it's "Fred UNKNOWN" or "UNKNOWN Smith".

As others say, a standard is needed, strange as genealogy has been around so long that there isn't!
As Anthony says, a standard is needed, and it's important we stick to it.

On WikiTree, our standards on this are tracked here: http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Name_Fields#Special_rules_for_required_fields

It should be "Unknown" if the name is unknown.

1 Answer

+3 votes
Hi Delroy,

Is this a question?

Using "Unknown" is our standard, so it's not optional. See http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Category:Styles_and_Standards

Of course, you don't need to enter any people if their name is unknown.

If you want to discuss the standards and whether they should be changed, asking a question here is the right thing to do.

by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)

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