Future shock likely

+8 votes
When adding profiles in the recent past, it is likely that if a profile for that person already exists, they will be private; or, even if not living, the information detail will be limited.  In that case, I -- and I'm certain, many others -- add the profile anyway, since there is no way to verify a duplicate.

Is that common? (Am I the only offender?) And if is common, it will eventually lead to a large number of unmerged matches.  What is/can be done to prevent that, without violating the very necessary privacy restrictions?
in WikiTree Tech by Roger Shipman G2G6 Mach 1 (15.3k points)
Perhaps an example is in order:

Say that I want to add my sister.  Doing due diligence, I search to find if her name is found.  Now I know (because I contacted them all) that of my 13 living siblings (one more died young), none of them added a profile for my sister.  But I also have 53 cousins, and a huge number of second cousins, plus 4th and 5th cousins that attend a large annual reunion of Oregon Trail descendants with me.  Any of these could want to document my family, just to be able to keep track of us all, (How else could you?)

So I search.  And I find six people with the same name, all of them private.  Am I going to contact all six PMs with my information to see if there is a match?  And wait up to six weeks?  For each sibling? And cousin? And uncle?


And I myself, because I want to track MY cousins, enter their profiles (not all living; most are older than I).  Repeat 53 times, plus parents to connect them, plus grandparents?  I promise, I have done my best.  And most of those whom I have entered would not have private profiles.  (I have kept it that way partly for this exact reason.)  But when profiles are private, and enough detail is given to distinguish, great.  The rest of the time, well....

Now repeat 13,000,000 times for all the other genealogists, and you have a huge disguised problem.  And soon it won't be a private problem (!).
Well, if you have (even hypothetically) 13 siblings, I"d suggest you try to have some sort of communications and have an e-mail group so you can ask the group if any of them have your sister on Wikitree and then see that you all put each other on each other's trusted lists of family lines.  This is supposed to be a cooperative group. after all.
None of my siblings are hypothetical.  (Though they might laugh to hear it.)

You appear to have a ton of experience, yet you admit, as do I, to adding potentially duplicated profiles.  How many more people will do the same?

1 Answer

+3 votes
Well, the first thing you should do is to try to contact the PM of the profile.  If you can't get that person, then my tendency is also to enter a new profile figuring someone will some day notice any duplication.  But don't forget to check by entering both birth date and death date which will usually eliminate all but a couple of possibilities at most.  Now if you don't have complete dates for your potential new profile, you might want to do some research on another sites or software to try getting the complete dates and then go back and enter what you'd found and perhaps all the possibles will disappear.  Also don't forget that if the profile you're wanting to check has Family Trees and Tools showing, you want to see if there's any ancesters there which might prove or disprove the connection.
by Dave Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (406k points)
Now that is a very good answer ... a very good answer indeed.  Unfortunately, however, it is for a very different question than the one I asked.  Moreover, it assumes that a profile is found that *may* match.  Probably not the case.

If a profile conflict such as those I was asking about exist, it is significantly likely that the conflict is over the same person, and because that person is recent, it may be that the dates are precisely the same (being better documented and easier to find than long-past dates)  ... and for living people, there will be no death date to distinguish them.  And in some cases, where conflict seemed more likely, I *did* contact the PM, because I know to do that.  But in very many more cases -- and I think it highly improbable that this pertains to only me -- that effort is not made, because I don't want to delay for days or weeks in adding close relatives.  If that is true for a lot of people ... well, soon there will be a LOT of duplicate profiles, largely due to the inordinate effort needed to verify uniqueness.  At least until enough time passes for the huge number of private profiles to become public.

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