unknown as a last name

+16 votes
381 views
Just want to make sure that everyone knows that UNKNOWN (all capitals) and Unknown are actually different last names on Wikitree.   As we really want the last name not to be in all capitals per our style guide, that means you might merge UNKNOWN-6 into Unknown-225205.   Seems like it would be against our desire to merge into the lowest number, but, because we would rather have the last name as Unknown....you would merge into Unknown, as the correct "spelling" of the name.

Am I correct?
in Policy and Style by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (576k points)
retagged by Shirley Dalton
If my opinion matters I would say you are correct!
There's no particular reason to favour the lowest number, that's just the tie-breaker.

3 Answers

+2 votes
Just how badly does WikiTree want this ....  is it badly enough that we should be changing LNAB on UNKNOWN to Unknown when we encounter it?
by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (760k points)
Gail, I do.  I change it from UNKNOWN to Unknown.  Also, after doing research on the Unknown name and can't find anything, there is a category in Maintenance Categories -  [[Category:Unknown names]].  If you need it for any reason or want to help research it.
THANX, Sally - I will do it, then.  I knew that Unknown was the correct way to enter it (and I have avoided creating new records as much as possible when I did not know LNAB) but I also thought that it is preferable not to change LNABs unless absolutely necessary, so I have not been doing that.  In the future, I shall.
I think if there's a chance that the surname could be found, it's better not to change it from UNKNOWN to Unknown. Because then, if the actual LNAB is found, changing it again is causing multiple redirects. That's why the form to change the LNAB says not to do it unless you know it's right.

I probably would change it from UNKNOWN to Unknown if it was highly unlikely that the proper LNAB would be found (eg. someone that a lot of research has been done on by multiple people and no last name has been found).
Lianne, I totally agree with you.  I research the LNAB first and change it or ask the PM to change it.  If nothing is found, then I spell it the correct way and put it in the category  "Unknown names".  That is for others to see if they can locate it.
OK - in that case, I will not change UNKNOWN to Unknown when I find them ... unless I'm pretty darn sure that the real name will never be discovered. THANX, Lianne
If the aim is to avoid multiple redirections, the rule would have to be - leave it alone unless you know the final ID.

And an LNAB change is a merge - it does what you're otherwise told to avoid, it creates a duplicate.

Whether Style Guide trumps redirections, I don't think we know.  A lot of LNAB changes do get done for stylistic reasons only.

With Unknowns it's particularly difficult to establish that there isn't a duplicate out there.

And then again, the Unknown might be discovered, but that risk is unavoidable.  You can't not create an Unknown on the grounds that it might be found.

Or can you?  If you fill in a guess, you might get lucky and then you've saved a redirection.

And of course there's always a "source" out there that fills in any blank with a guess, a rumour, a mistake, or a bit of wishful thinking.  Depends how you like to do your genealogy.  WikiTree hasn't decided what sort of genealogist it wants to be.

You could get a situation where somebody creates an Unknown, somebody else finds a name and thinks they've solved the problem and changes the LNAB, then somebody else says, that's not proved, and changes it to Unknown again, and so on.
omigosh, I had no idea of the can of worms I was opening .... RJ, please pass the Excedrin ... a lot of them!!!!!

I will be happy to do whatever someone tells me to - all I want is to know what WikiTree wants me to do about the UNKNOWNS, ?, Unnamed, and/or whatever other wild and crazy non-names there are lurking out there daring us to find!!!
Seeing all the debris caused by the creation of unnecessary and duplicate profiles, I've been quite conservative about creating profiles.  If John is the son of Peter, who is married to Mary unknown, I put the data in the profile, but I see no need to create a separate profile for Mary unknown.  If there is indeed a need, somebody else can create one later on.  But a profile that contains no data just seems like so much clutter.  I have two Catherine Unknowns I'm trying to get merged at this moment, and it really is a lot of ado about virtually nothing!

The idea of anyone wasting precious time converting a profile of someone about whom we know only the name, from UNKNOWN to unknown, seems like the ultimate disrespect for anyone's time!
Hi Gail, pass the excedrin to me too.  This is a major issue and I am working on the Unknowns, Jr, Sr. Jr, Sr anything that is incorrect. ... These will eventually get smaller.  But for now, there is a whole sloooo of them.
+1 vote
Do those hundreds of LNU's play into this somehow?  Is Unknown preferred over LNU?
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (326k points)
Yes Dennis, anytime the any name is Unknown,  it needs to say Unknown to be consistant.  Anything other than that needs to be changed.
Bravo!!  Now go SEARCH on people with surname X, but don't enter a first name. You'll see many (thousands?).  Shouldn't they all be changed to Unknown?
Gillby, is we know the name, go ahead and change it, but if not YES, change it to Unknown,  Not all caps.  Thank you for your help.
Exactly!!   But we can't change the thousands of names that other people have entered.  Only the profile manager can do that.  The Wikitree directors should find a way to make these changes.  It would be verrry time consuming to convince each PM to change his X's to Unknown.
Thank you all for your comments and concerns.  The WikiTree Team and Leaders and currently working on this subject.
0 votes
Thank you for bringing this up, Robin.  I had not thought about it and now I will.  It also points out how important it is to use consistent and correct last names, including punctuation and capitalization.  Soooo many times I run across profiles where looseness in any of these things causes either duplicate or difficult to find profiles.
by Kyle Dane G2G6 Mach 9 (97.5k points)

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