Have you heard about the big change coming? Certainty status on relationships.

+37 votes

Hi WikiTreers,

Within a few days we should be making live a great new improvement. You'll be able to mark parent-child relationships as one of these:

  • Uncertain
  • Confident
  • Confirmed with DNA

This will enable us to do two things with trees, for two very different purposes.

#1. We'll be able to illustrate on trees when a connection is questionable. This will give you a middle ground between saying a person is or is not the parent.

Currently, you can explain the uncertainty in the text of profiles (and you should) but on the tree views it's black and white. Now we'll be able to show a shade of grey on trees.

#2. We'll be able to illustrate on trees when the genealogy behind a connection has been confirmed with DNA testing.

This will be mostly for advanced genetic genealogists at first. Many of us are starting to take DNA tests, but few of us (myself included) are good at deciding when DNA test matches confirm genealogy and exactly which relationships they can confirm.

Having the ability to indicate this, and display it on trees (backed up by sources explained in the text), will give us a foundation to build on. We'll have a reason to start trying to make these decisions.

I think this will ultimately be very important to our mission. We don't just want to connect the human family on one tree. We want the connections to be correct.

Illustrating when they're questionable and when they're confirmed with DNA will be a great help to our process.

By the way, use of the middle option, "Confident," will probably end up being the source of a lot of debate. If so we'll have to find a way to avoid this. The middle option just means it isn't either of the other two. The other two are what will be used for new features. The middle one is what all relationships are assumed to be currently.

Onward and upward, for the single family tree,


P.S. If you want to see some of the previous discussions, which may answer some questions:

in The Tree House by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Yaaaay! :D
Hi Chris. How will relationships in existing profiles be assigned ?
Hi Jillaine. There isn't a plan to automatically set this for existing relationships. The status will be blank until edited.

I'm very pleased to see this! I have realized that as my own genealogical work crosses into the data from others, deeper into the tree, I can't start from a position of confidence on the relationships.

As such, I look forward to having an indicator that some relationship is more rumor than it is a well-sourced fact.

As such, I can't say I fully agree with this: 

By the way, use of the middle option, "Confident," will probably end up being the source of a lot of debate. If so we'll have to find a way to avoid this. 

I think that debate over confidence is a healthy one.  That doesn't mean that there won't be disagreements, but there are disagreements in science, academia, business and life all of the time, and having the questions aired makes for a more correct tree in the long run.

I am a proud signer of the genealogist pledge, and I think we should all be encouraged to treat the truth as paramount -- and to make that healthy debate one of the primary reasons to rely on wikitree for our genealogy,

I, too, wondered what the initial setting would be. I see that "unset" is going to be the default. Here's, then, where I make my request: please, please, please when the feature is announced and documented, can we use it as a moment to point out some of the other best practices?

  • some other tree from some other system is nothing more than a rumor. If that other tree has sources, use them rather than the tree in citations
  • Use the {{Citation needed}} tag thoroughly and unabashedly and feel free to add it to others' profiles -- don't be upset if it pops up in a profile you manage or care about! We all just want to know what's what, I hope.
  • Same for the certain/uncertain flags -- use them and don't be upset when members of your family gain the "uncertain" flag for facts/relationships.... we just want to keep track of what's known, how it's known, and what's rumor.

In short, I say bring on the feature, and let's keep talking about who's who!!! We're here to document that and find it out, so discussing it just makes sense! smiley

Great message, Daphne! Thank you!

Update: Development and implementation of the Problems with Members process and related conflict resolution systems pushed back the release. The first stages should be live by the end of the week.

I agree with Daphne that there shouldn't be any problems - discussions are good, and sometimes another person will see your mistake before you notice it.  I am open to anyone correcting any of my enteries.  It is just how it is done.  I had one person refer to what I had done as "nonsense" and I will admit I was really hurt by that comment.  I love this site, it has been such a big help to me.  My biggest problem is that there are so many of the same names in families, and that is where I got some mixups. I am trying to clean everything up.  I do find it frustrating trying to remove duplicate siblings, seems that the parents then are taken off, and you have to go back in and reenter them.  How do I send in my DNA?  Thanks for all your work everyone, this is a wonderful tool.  Just be patient with some us, we aren't all young.....

5 Answers

+12 votes
WOW ! This will be something !
by Maggie N. G2G6 Pilot (858k points)
Thanks, Maggie! I think it really will be.

At first it won't look like much. We want to get this started so that people can start recording this information. How we display it on trees remains to be worked out.

I expect there will be a lot of debate about what it means to choose one of the three options. Exactly when should you select "uncertain" or "confirmed with DNA" and what should you put in the profile to explain or back that up? This is something the community will be working on for a while, I think. We're starting some rough pages with directions but it will take discussion and experimentation to really figure things out.
+9 votes

I like this, although for sure there will be some rough spots with it, particularly with the DNA.  While lots of people are taking DNA tests, my experience has been in my conversations that most of them don't understand what the tests are actually telling them.  But I think what you are doing with adding this DNA aspect to Wikitree is what will make it stand above the rest in the long run.  I also think it will encourage more people to take DNA tests knowing they have a 'built in' family tree online to try and find connections.

For me, this possibility is the most exciting thing about Wikitree (because I'm a DNA geek)!  laugh

by Darlene Athey-Hill G2G6 Pilot (427k points)
+6 votes
I suggest the DNA portion should have an option along the lines of "Supported by DNA" and another option of "Confirmed by DNA" but confirmed should only be for when confirmation can be independently verified.  Improvements and refinements can follow.
by Peter Roberts G2G6 Pilot (552k points)
So, for example, I have a 2nd-to-4th cousin match at FTDNA. When we compare trees we find only one common ancestral line and it's at the right distance, but we haven't triangulated with a third person to verify that this DNA segment really is associated with that MRCA. So if the supported by/confirmed by options were available, I'd use "supported by DNA" rather than "confirmed by DNA", correct?
Hello Sharon, Correct.  My original thinking was triangulation or using phased data for matching was necessary for "confirmation".  I also believe being able to see who shares which matching segments in a public database like GEDmatch is important so others can independently verify a confirmation.  Less than that would be along the lines of "Supported by DNA"
I like the "Supported" versus "Confirmed" DNA option.

This went live today, with three options:

  1. http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Uncertain
  2. http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Confident
  3. http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Confirmed_with_DNA

I can see arguments for adding more options, including Supported with DNA. I know a lot of genealogists would like to see many levels of certainty between Uncertain and Confident.

However, there is value in simplicity. Complexity has costs. It's always a balancing act.

For our purposes here, we have specific things we want to do when a relationship is marked as Uncertain or Confirmed with DNA. We want to indicate this on trees and in the relationship finder.

+4 votes
This sounds like an exciting new development, especially with the default position being that nothing has been checked.  

On the Magna Charta trail on which I'm currently working any answer other than 'confident' is unsatisfactory, because the purpose of documenting the trail with a good resource like Richardson is to be able to be certain.  And the narrative in the profile must be adequate to support the "confident" opinion.

What concerns me about this, and we'll just have to see how it plays out, is the potential for use of the "Confirmed with DNA" response as a "conversation stopper."  DNA is very helpful, but I don't believe it can answer every question.

I'm working on another profile right now where a parental link needs to be broken, but a very well done work supports the link with a DNA analysis.  What I will be documenting is that the DNA analysis is well done, but the use of the analysis to logically prove a relationship is flawed.  This will be controversial so it is important to me to get it right the first time, but I would not want to be upstaged by a "Confirmed with DNA" opinion that negates further conversation!
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (356k points)
Thanks, Jack.

It's going to be really important to work out standards and recommendations for the sourcing when you select Confirmed with DNA. This can't be something that you just assert. Like any other conclusion, you need to cite your source so others can consider it. And like anything on WikiTree, it can be edited!
+2 votes
I love this feature, but i see some problems with it.

The problem comes from you saying that Confident is going to cause problems.  I fail to see the problem for the majority of profiles.  I understand that some will be debated, but it sounded as if you proposed that most confident relationships will cause problems.


I don't see the liklihood of there being many DNA confirmed relationships.  I say this because not many people will have the mTdna from their mothers.
by W B G2G4 (4.9k points)

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