Please do not adopt or edit profiles that are part of an Orphan Trail

+27 votes

Just a gentle reminder that there are a number of orphan trails that have profiles being worked on by individuals who are working to complete the Trail process for a specific Project. There are images posted on these profiles that indicate that they should not be worked on since they are reserved for a specific trail. 

The network of trails is growing so the chance of coming across a profile that is part of one will be increasing. Currently there are active trails for England, Scotland, Canada and Profile Improvement with more likely to be created.

in Policy and Style by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (459k points)
retagged by Doug McCallum

Perhaps you could also explain what that is. It sounds like something related to the Trails and Wagon Trains project.

The "Trails" are a Project specific sub-project that are mostly being used to train people how to do research in either the geographic area of the Project or, as in the case of Profile Improvement, on how to work within the Project. They are also being used as the path to joining a Project. We find that those who graduate contribute a lot to the Project after becoming a member. The details do vary somewhat depending on the specific Trail.

For anyone that wants more information, see the Project page for details.
England has an Orphans Trail, Scotland has a Tartan Trail, Canada has a Trans-Canada Trail. They are used to learn about 'reliable' sources in those regions, as well as to learn how to create citations correctly in wikitree, use stickers, etc,, so they are a mixture of learning about resources in the regions, as well as learning wikitree.  New people to wikitree have gone through the trails, as well as experienced members.
If suggestions were not reported for those profiles, how are people supposed to know that there is a problem that they may have caused?

Working on the Trails, is helping members work with everything on wikitree, not just research in certain areas. Most people that work on wikitree can see the biography area when they see the data area at the top.

Doug, could you please add a leaders tag for my Special Situations answer, or let them know when trails start, we do have a way to help ensure they are not worked on.

Thank you.

I am one of the leaders for the Orphan Trail (and also one of the PCs for the England Project's Profile Improvement Team) and I am unaware of anyone intentionally creating errors for the purpose of training. There are more profiles already in existence containing errors than we can use in a lifetime, with more being created every day. At the moment most of the profiles being used by the OT are being chosen by me and I can assure you I am not intentionally creating errors anywhere. I'm not running out of problems to fix that I need to create more.

The Orphan Trail not only teaches people how to research effectively in England, but it cleans up messy and erroneous profiles at the same time.

There are currently 411 profiles displaying the OT's "do not edit" image. There are also currently in excess of 293,000 DD suggestions on English profiles. You're not exactly starved for choice.

As for "What's next? A trail for every country?", there are many of us who would like that. We're trying to proactively lift the standard of genealogy at Wikitree and reduce the clean up required by profile improvement teams. It embodies step II of the Honor Code.
Well said, Leandra.

7 Answers

+14 votes
Best answer


Please see the Data Doctors Project page; Special Situations section.  We include all the trails to date with the images and Edit box code of what to look for and not work on if you see the image or code in a profile located in England, Scotland, PIP, and as of today, Canada.

We are updating the page, and leaders with new trails are welcome to contact me when a trail starts to include in this section.  

The Special Situations will soon move to a new page, contain additional facts, and link to the Data Doctors Project page.

by Sheryl Moore G2G6 Pilot (152k points)
selected by Doug McCallum
Thank you, Doug, for the star!  made my day.
For me (maybe it's just me) I found that the use of real people's profiles instilled a great deal of satisfaction - whenever I improve a profile, I know that they were someone real, who probably meant a lot to their community or family, and try to do my best by them.

How would made up person have sources anyway?
I emailed you, Pat.  Nothing is made up about these profiles; they are real and Data Doctors specifically, and WikiTree members generally, should NOT work on these profiles that contain the graphics mentioned.
My comment was about another comment suggesting that people should not be trained on real people's profiles.
+13 votes
And France, I am working on one for that project.
by Jonathan Crawford G2G6 Pilot (215k points)
France and Canada are just starting.  I didn't think France had officially started yet.
France is still in its infancy but a few people are participating. I did complete that trail. Lots of fun and I learned a lot.
+12 votes
A while ago, I corrected an error on a profile, and it was only as I hit the Save button that I noticed the trail template (and as a consequence received what I thought was a very rude email pointing out my mistake).  If there are now going to be many such trails, is there some other way of identifying such profiles?

Could the project involved adopt the profile (which would stop anyone else from adopting it), at least for the duration of the orphan trail exercise, or will that create other problems?  Or perhaps the projects already do that?
by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (542k points)
The Wkitree user agreement says that people make mistakes, it also says to "stop, drop and roll" when something angers us and expects people to treat other users with respect. If this happened to me because I made a genuine mistake, I'd be very upset and be wary of contributing in future. If anyone was that rude to me, I't take it further.
Depending on what change was made, you can restore the changes prior to your save which would cause your corrections to be removed, if you later realized that a profile had the Trails indication on it.

My understanding is that the projects do adopt the profiles being used or plan to be used for the Trails, which is when the Trails sticker is placed on the profile.
The projects already adopt the profiles when a hiker/traveller is assigned. There are Scotland profiles that are "Reserved" and not adopted. The image at the top will indicate that state.
+6 votes
hi Doug,

Could you post the image on here so people can see what the Trail image looks like?  And possibly a list somewhere of such profiles.

What's the process to pick and choose which profiles are included in the Trail?  Adoption of profiles is often done by people who are related to that profile, so stopping them from doing so seems counter-productive.
by Danielle Liard G2G6 Pilot (491k points)
I'll post the images in a separate answer. What I will say is that the image is very prominently displayed above the == Biography == line and has text in it saying to please not edit the profile.

The process is to pick orphaned profiles that have few, if an, sources on them. The profile gets adopted by the guide on behalf of the hiker. Once the profile is completed by the hiker it is orphaned again. Scotland also has some profiles reserved but not adopted in order to not have the profile adopted by someone else between the time of selection and it being adopted. We had some problems with that so added the reserved. In general, most profiles only stay in the trails for a short time. There have been a few exceptions but not many.

All the trails provide lists of these profiles since that is where the hiker chooses a profile and it is tracked. I'll post the pages with some of the sample images.
Projects only use orphaned profiles for the Trails process, which they then adopt, or someone working with project adopts for the process. The criteria used is probably different for each project because some projects need profiles with Pre-1500 and Pre-1700 profiles as well as more recent ones since the resources to be used would be different, I think.
Thank you both.
+11 votes

All the Trails I have seen have prominent banner. They can be found on this page

by Hilary Gadsby G2G6 Pilot (253k points)
Thank you, Hilary.
+14 votes

Some examples of profiles in the process can be found at:

Trans-Canada uses

as is image and it is at the top of the profile.

Scotland Tartan Trail uses the following images, also placed at the top of the profile:

England uses:


by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (459k points)
Thanks that seems pretty clear to me. :-)
+15 votes

Just a note regarding the adoption of orphaned profiles ... what you are seeing may be happening without the adopting member being aware of the images.

If the Mass Adoption tool is used, profiles being adopted do not have to be reviewed. In addition, if the family line of an orphan of interest is reviewed, there are options to include all orphaned ancestors or descendants of a specific Orphaned profile (ex. "Adopt Orphaned Family of Millicent Gilbert")

by Debi Hoag G2G6 Pilot (347k points)

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