Since when was the protocol changed so that surnames could be wholly spelled in the lower case?

+8 votes

A few years ago I had a baptism image where a LNAB was completely spelled in the lower case; I was informed that WikiTree must have at least one character in the upper case or it would technically not be possible to create a profile.

Now I see that it is possible ... Edit: The example has now been merged into the already existing duplicate. See here for the merged away profile.

WikiTree profile: Anna Frederika Redelinghuys
in Policy and Style by Philip van der Walt G2G6 Pilot (158k points)
edited by Philip van der Walt
Just noting that the actual  ID has an upper case letter
That has always been the case with WikiTree ID's.
The ID may show as uppercase, but the LNAB is all lowercase -- which classifies as an error.

2 Answers

+5 votes

The Name Field help page has a section on Capitalization.

I note that the PM is fairly new to WikiTree. Maybe they have always used lower case in their personal records and didn't know about the guideline for the case at WikiTree? I see that they have received a link to the South Africa Project naming guidelines. Looking at those, I don't see that case is mentioned. That might be something the Project would consider adding to their guidelines.

by Debi Hoag G2G6 Pilot (322k points)

Debi, as I stated - I had inquired once that if it was technically possible. The answer was no. From the higher echelons. In all my years at WikiTtree, it is the first time I see that LNAB can be created in the lower case only. It could also be a bug - hence my question.

Yes - the PM is new. She received a private message from a greeter providing extra guidance.

Adding another dimension to the creation of LNAB to the project guidelines would not be relevant, unless if indeed it would be possible to create LN'sAB WikiTree wide with all characters / letters in the lower case. In which case all projects should add similar guidelines.

A few days ago I saw a bunch of newly created profiles like that.  The end result looks stupid (in my opinion)--"John Jones formerly jones" or something similar on every new profile the guy was creating.  I'd have thought he could just use the shift key once in a while.

Julie there are hundreds of these that can be found under the LNAB Unknown, for example

Anna Margretha (unknown) Unknown

I see.  it will be good to get the glitch fixed.
+5 votes
I reported the problem a few months ago (March) and was told it was a glitch and that it is on the to-do-list for fixing.
by Esmé van der Westhuizen G2G6 Pilot (126k points)

You may be surprised by what the intended fix is - see the detailed description on

Oh, no!  I can only hope the fix includes a warning to the person creating the profile that lower case is not usually correct!
Oh my word ...
The text on the Trello board seems to say that lower case LNABs are fine, and the current problem is that the Current Last Name is being capitalized automatically by mistake.  Is this right?  If so... Well, that's interesting.  Is anyone aware of any family names that don't use any capitalization at all?  I know some European names have grammatical words in lower case (such as the 'van der' in two of the names above me here), but do any names (using the Roman alphabet) have no capital letters?


Most of those are current last names not last names at birth. However fforde, ffoulkes and ffrench may be the actual LNAB for some people.

Indeed, I do not know of any surnames completely spelled in the lower case, but then I'm not privy to everything that's going on tech wise. It just seems very strange that the LN'sAB are with all letters in the lower case, but the current names start with a capital letter ... (as also in the example of the (unknown) Unknown ...)

Jim, are you saying that fforde, ffoulkes, and ffrench may be intentionally lower case?

Philip, that's because (as the Trello board says) the system is automatically capitalising the Current Last Names.  It's this that they're saying they will stop.
Jim, I think the double "f" actually represented a capital letter "F."  See

You're right, Julie, and ff has even been described as a mistake, e.g. here. But if nonetheless there are cases where people choose to record it as part of the last name when their children are born, we should respect that.

If it is the intention of WikiTree to allow the creation of LN'sAB wholly in the lower case as opposed to how it was previously, this might be a bad decision. I'm afraid that a lot more duplicate mergers will have to be made to correct names, regardless of culture or project.
Jim, there are around 100 Ffrenchs on WT, 18 Ffordes, and eight Ffoulkses.  I looked at some of them and found no indication that any of their names were spelled with the lower case initial "F."  On a tree with 28 million profiles, I don't think it makes sense to accommodate some theoretical tiny minority, if there is one at all, with a policy likely to lead to many times that number of errors.

Julie, there's one with the indication

Her name should be ffrench but I can't get the system to understand this

Wikipedia confirms the spelling. Even though it's a rare case, forcing a capital goes against Use their conventions instead of ours.

One in 28 million.

Do you have a suggestion for how WT can avoid creating more problems than it solves when it makes this change?
One problem it could cause is extra duplicates. A suggestion to avoid that would be to make sure that name comparisons during generation of the list of possible matches at profile creation time are case-insensitive, so that "Smit" and "smit" (to use Philip's original example) would be recognised as potentially the same.

Related questions

+9 votes
2 answers
+30 votes
11 answers
+9 votes
2 answers
+4 votes
1 answer

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

disclaimer - terms - copyright