What is a substantive change to a profile?

+11 votes
Gayle C. posted a complaint which included a reference to notifying the PM if one is intending to make substantive changes to a profile.  Now I agree with this in general.  In fact I just notified the PM of a couple of my ancestors that I was intending to make some major additions to them as well as connect my line to these profiles.  But this brings up the interesting (to me at least) question of what constitutes a substantial change?  No offense to Gayle, but none of the changes she discusses would seem to me to be substantial.  So what do you think is the cut off line between trivial and substantial?
in Policy and Style by Dave Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (410k points)

3 Answers

+7 votes
Best answer
There is actually a page on this too.

It includes sections on when to' be bold and act now' and when to communicate first.



There are specific black sheep subcategories.  I think if someone didn't fit into one of them,you probably should leave that part alone.

And Gayle has a point.  If you are going to update the locations, do it properly.

But on the occasion, when someone complains that I messed with their profile, I say I am sorry and move on.
by Maureen Rosenfeld G2G6 Pilot (182k points)
selected by Rob Ton
+11 votes

Some of the things I think would be considered substantive might include:

  1. adding or deleting parents or children
  2. adding or changing birth/death dates, places
  3. adding or deleting spouse & marriage information
  4. substantially editing or deleting portions of a biography without sourcing the changes made

I don't think adding a source would be considered substantive, unless it was an inaccurate source.

Any other thoughts?

by Shirley Dalton G2G6 Pilot (500k points)

As a general rule, I'd say that removing content is a far more significant substantive change than adding content.

+7 votes

Thank you for asking this question.  I'm far from an expert in the English language and admit that I have not consulted a dictionary before using the word "substantive" or, now, before attempting to state my perception of the words "substantive" and "substantial".

I intended the word "substantive" to indicate a change in meaning, whether by addition, change, or removal.  To me, adding a profile to the Black Sheep project is in this category.  When you also used the word "substantial" interchangeable with "substantive", it jumped out at me that "substantial" has a very different meaning to me, although from the fact that both words are obviously part of the same family, my impression must be incorrect.  Anyhow, I think of "substantial" as major and, therefore, a large quantity.

I fully agree that correcting a typo and adding a country to a place name from which it had been missing are not in this category.  The addition of the Black Sheep template, however, is the sort of change that I would expect an active profile manager to be consulted about prior to making the change.

With the reflection stimulated by your question, I recognize that "substantive" was probably not a good word choice for this situation.
by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (979k points)
Even if it's for an unhappy reason, glad to see you back Gaile.
Aww. THANX Shirley!  You are the greatest and I have really missed you a whole lot.  Hope everything's going well for you now and continues to do so.
BTW, my apologies for misspelling your given name.  My boss was Gayle before I retired, so it just came to my mind that this was how you spelled it.

OK, I can see that the name "Black Sheep" is a bit off-putting.  But I didn't think that Catagorization is a  substantial or substantive change.  Apparently, If I got things correctly, the person who made the changes to this profile added the category since the phrase "Black Sheep" was in the profile.  While you (or whoever) certainly, as PM have the right to remove it, it would seem to me to simply be a way to alert interested parties to people with a checkered  past.  BTW. I think I remember reading that you can hide certain text from appearing.  If that's the case, this might be a workable compromise so that the people wanting to locate "black sheep" can find this profile, without it appearing on the profile.except in edit mode.

From the Black Sheep Project:

The Black Sheep Project is a top level project that includes 7 sub-projects. Our Mission is to highlight the profiles of notable people on WikiTree who would be considered "black sheep", and support those that have family members they wish to be included in the project. We describe Black Sheep as those that were outcasts, outlaws or just plain outlandish.


Please be respectful; we're not here to judge or label. If a profile belongs to someone that isn't famous, or infamous, always ask the profile manager if they would like the profile to be included in the Black Sheep Project before applying any categories or templates.


This is not a category, it is a project with specifics to qualify for inclusion. I'm with Gaile here that any inclusion in a project is substantive.


Gaile - I agree with your distinction between "substantive" and "substantial". A "substantive" change would be any change in substance rather than merely a change in style/form/drafting. A "substantial" change is any major change. Changing a single date would be a substantive change but probably not a substantial one, while rewriting the entire narrative bio without changing any of the facts would be a substantial change but not a substantive one.

I think IF a profile has an active PM and the profile well developed (ie sourced and not just a blank profile or a gedcom import), the PM would probably appreciate communication before EITHER a substantive change or a substantial change.

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