The 1700 and 1500 date barriers

+11 votes
So, I think I understand the 1700 and 1500 date restrictions as being a way to limit folks with less genealogy experience from mucking up profiles ... and I do appreciate that.

But, wow, with the advent of the 1500 limit, it seems like it has opened a big can of worms ... and it ain't even fishin' season yet! ... and double wow, how many people can't even type in a date, or check that they've done it right ????

Anyway, this brings up questions ... was the 1500 limit the right thing to do?  Do we need a better check on date entries before a profile is saved?  I'm sure there are more ... maybe this belongs in the 'tech' section ... maybe I need another glass of wine!!!
in The Tree House by Bob Jewett G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
retagged by Maggie N.

4 Answers

+11 votes
Best answer
It is a Catch-22 Bob,

On the one hand we want everyone to be able to contribute valuable new information about their ancestors (or other people's ancestors for that matter)... at the same time there is so much "garbage genealogy" in circulation - ranging from simple typos to deliberate frauds, all being repeated ad infinitum across the internet- that a truly obscene amount of time was wasted doing the same merges and making the same "repairs" to the same profiles over, and over, and over as new contributors repeated the same oft-made but already disproven claims.

The, as you call them, "1700 and 1500 date barriers", as well as restrictions on GEDCOM uploads, were put in place alongside the already existing "PPP Protection" to try and mitigate the problem. Certainly it has caused some minor 'annoyances' (like fixing date typos) but I think it has, on the whole, helped make the 'deep' ancestor profiles better, helped retain 'talent', and also created minor goals people can "aspire to" achieving.

I certainly didn't find the pre-1700 badge onerous to obtain, and since getting it I think I have "needed" to work on 18 profiles that require it.
by Rob Ton G2G6 Pilot (275k points)
selected by Maggie N.
I don't think I'm buying the "truly obscene".  "Greatly exaggerated" I would have said.  It doesn't take that long to revert a bio or remove a parent.

People smart when their own work gets messed with.  But the time-wasted complaint is only a displacement from the real issue here.

Certainly, in the past, some heroic people have had to spend far too much time doing multiple merges etc to recover from the unbridled chaos of 2011.  But that was then, and that problem was mostly stemmed just by blocking pre-1500 gedcom imports.

Beyond that, we have several other strategies in place - the pre-1700 quiz, the pre-1500 Ranger feed and management-by-project (now beefed up with project feeds and stronger PPP).  None of these things has been given a chance to work properly.

What people don't seem to get is the amount of stuff that still needs fixing.  If it does need fixing.  Actually, other sites out there are very popular without worrying about data quality.

Meanwhile, there are other sites (less prominent in the league tables) where people go for more reliable info.  But WikiTree is a million miles from becoming that sort of site, and has no plans to get there.

So what's it all in aid of?  Pre-1500 used to be entertainment for anybody interested.  Now, it's entertainment for the select few, and nothing much seems to be gained, except that those few will have their fun less spoilt by having to share the space with anybody else.  Meanwhile, people not working on that stuff mostly won't bother looking at it.
Thank you, Rob.
+12 votes
1500 separates the "modern world" from the Middle Ages. The Age of Discovery sent the European heritage throughout the rest of the world. Thus, for instance, we are beyond all American genealogies and into the myriad histories of Old World societies.

I like the distinction, and like that WikiTree requires more experience and care from those who toil in our not-so-distant past. I'd like to join them soon.
by Tom Patin G2G3 (3.4k points)
+6 votes

The barriers make a lot of sense - but it would be nice to have an easy procedure for correcting typos like 0188 for 1880. It should also be something that does not require a confirmation step for every date we enter, so... I just don't have any ready suggestion for how it would work.

I haven't made that kind of typo myself (yet), but see it happening quite a lot. For example, I came across Mády-2, who died December 16, 1966 and is born typo May 12, 0188. She also has a spouse born in 1886. I think the wikitree engine is quite good with dates (for example whan suggesting matches) so might cases like this be recognized as obvious typos and left open for editing? Seems I did have the beginning of a suggestion, after all.

by Eva Ekeblad G2G6 Pilot (490k points)
edited by Eva Ekeblad
Yes, an error-correcting algorithm for date entries would be very nice. Unfortunately, I understand it's technically difficult to implement.

I've edited the birthdate for (Erzsébet Mády).
I don't think it would be too difficult to implement ... coming from thirty years of software development!!

I think there's a check now for having both dates blank ... just need to add a warning if one or both are less than 1500 (maybe 1700 too) AND the entering person not being certified  ... and then another warning if ... ABS (Death - Birth) > 150 or so.  There may be another test or two required?

Sounds doable to me.
0 votes
I chose to use this site instead of werelate because it was more inclusive and easier to understand.  It is not because I do not understand werelate but because I don't want to limit my access to information.

As I see more restrictions being added, I think this site caters  more to the academically-oriented.  I think these limits will send more people away because they do not believe their contributions are valued.
by Maureen Rosenfeld G2G6 Pilot (182k points)

WikiTree also risks alienating prospective contributors who are annoyed about bad content.

The current arrangement represents a compromise between the goal of openness and the goal of assured quality.

  • People can contribute content about ancestors for the last 3+ centuries without going through any special "certification."
  • The certification process to add the two previous centuries (i.e., pre-1700) is a self-certification that is not particularly difficult, but provides some good education on genealogy and WikiTree.
  • The pre-1500 certification is admittedly harder to achieve. For most of us, this is not a big burden because there are no records for the vast majority of people who were born before 1500 -- meaning that very few of us need pre-1500 access to document our family histories. However, when WikiTree gave people free access to pre-1500 profiles, an enormous number of problematic profiles were created, and WikiTree risked alienating the small number of volunteers who have specialized knowledge (and information resources) regarding early genealogy and were willing and able to work at finding sources, resolving multiple names for one person, reconciling bad dates, etc., etc., etc. for those profiles.
Bad content is going to happen.  It is on here now.  I and several others through a series of merges managed to remove a woman's last name and birth at another contributor added it right back on. The profile is pre 1700. Currently there is a note on the page that says there is no proof this is the last name.  

This is why I prefer to work with the people who are asking questions on g2g instead of the very few of us who need access.

Yes, there's plenty of bad content on WikiTree. The pre-1500 certification seems to have been effective in stemming the creation of new bad content.

I haven't been here very long but from what I have seen the "Bad" content is getting repaired,  Its a slow process but the new merge rules are helping a lot.
Yes, there's a lot of good progress here.

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