Poll - Bold or polite - db_errors

+12 votes

I created this poll that you can fill in if an error code from db_errors could just be changed = bold or if we need to wait for an response from the profile manager = polite

Purpose: Just to get a feeling if we have some consensus...

  1. Form to fill in 
  2. Answers so far 

Magnus Sälgö

Link Communication_Before_Editing#Be_Bold_or_Be_Polite

in Policy and Style by C S G2G6 Pilot (274k points)
retagged by Aleš Trtnik
If bold is showing an ability to take risks; and being confident and courageous, then bold and polite don't have to be mutually exclusive.

Bold and polite is the two categories from the help page

You have to choice ;-)

I also understand that there is not always an answer and I myself "working" in the Swedish corner of Wikitree I feel we have to many uploaded gedcom files with no sources and a profile manager who has disappeared... so I get happy when someone cares and responds... ==> I am getting more bold

My intention is that if we have a best practice or some kind of consensus then we could add those guidelines to the DB_Error help pages 

I guess I don't understand what you're after here.  Are you asking if the "bold/polite" guidelines should be different for the db project than for the rest of wikitree?
I did fill in the sheet, but cannot submit it.
@Nan my idea is can we map the db errors to bold or polite....
For me no gender on a father is something that I nearly always will change without trying to get a dialogue with a profile manager....

If we could agree on some guidelines and/or text then it would be easier for people less experience when they read the help text about an error...

@Pierre I tested it as not logged in and it worked ok....
Did you get an error message?
Are using Mac/Pc chrome browser/safari/IE?
No, the submit knob just did not respond on my iPad-1 tablet.
That is with Safari-browser, if I am correct.

I tried again and got a reaction after about 10 times, it showed a feedback screen. Filled that and sent it. Mind you, it was just a test, no real answers.
I think what you're really wondering, is... do we "ask" or do we "tell"?

Do we ask permission to correct obvious errors? Or do we inform them of the errors we've discovered and are correcting?

I don't believe its necessary to get permission, but do be careful that your corrections are actually correct.
The poll is a really great idea, Magnus!!

Thanks I read your answer....

I have done more polls for doing genealogy in Sweden..... you find it on all the 2500 parish pages like Alfta (X) and also on +110 category pages like Statare with the purpose to explain and group Swedish genealogy terms

  • NEW Please give us some feedback on the parish pages see Survey 
  • NEW Please give some feedback on this type of category pages Use this Survey
Statare were generally viewed as being on the lowest rungs of Swedish society. They didnt have wage in cash and had difficult to pay for a trip to America...

Statare Julita gård.
Wikimedia common

@Julie comment to your comment

If the Profile Manager is active, a very polite note should be left on the profile so that they have a change to fix it. It would be really great if these messages contained a short explanation about the project & a link to the project page. There are still people who are not familiar with the db_errors project.

  1. Another approach is to make it easier to understand that you can reverse a change....

    Change the user interface and if a profile manager is looking at a page and it has been changed please inform him that it has been and make it easy ti tell him click here to reverse the change or give a thanks for the change 
  2. Start having better statistics of users so you can fast see of this is 
    1. an active profile managers
    2. how many errors does he/she have on profiles he/she has created
    3. how many thanks the last month
    4. how many outstanding merge requests
I think Chris said that working together is one of the bigger challenges on WikiTree. Now Aleš has given WikiTree tools for finding some errors then WikItree need tools to better work together.... I still think its crazy that we for genealogy that is so difficult don't have talk pages on every profile.... maybe G2G is enough but I like talk pages...
I think the freeform text area and the public comments work well as "talk pages." Not in the same way as the Wikipedia talk works, but still very effective for communication.

I think part of the problem is that many people are not used to working in a collaborative environment and don't think to start a conversation or Research Notes section.
@Julie a profile should be interesting to read not have a lot of research information
Errors that are not errors!  I have people that are over 100Yrs old yes 5-10 years older,  My Aunt just celebrated her 106 birthday, she is still working, volunteers at a nursing home, she is not a resident, she goes home at night.

I have women that were bearing children at 60.

 I have data that is correct and Wikidata is wrong I tried to correct there data but I haven't figured out how to save my changes there.    

Names that are titles, I have lots here are a few examples first-name (General) middle-name (Lee), first-name (Doctor), middle-name (James), First names like Captain, Major, General, Doctor, Lawyer.  

Lots of unique names, they were chosen because they were unique.

I would like to permanently tag these as OK, and never to have to do it again.

And it would be nice if the list was active, that is if someone else fixes a spelling error it flags that. I go down my list, and many have already been fixed and I wasted time looking for it.  

I like the idea of being able to find errors but it is VERY frustrating.

And then to have well minded folks come in and fix things when they are not qualified to.   Maybe a need  "Qualification" to fix other peoples errors, like the per 1500 & 1700.

>> I have data that is correct and Wikidata is wrong I tried to correct there data but I haven't figured out how to save my changes there.    

Changing in Wikidata can be done both if you are logged in or not. See my video https://youtu.be/JUUjvHy3CFU how I add that a painting depict some blood and they I got that information from the english Wikipedia.... (and also seeing it myself..)

Its just to hit edit/add and then save



6 Answers

+23 votes
Best answer
You can be bold while still being polite by adding a short explanation, of why you changes what. I try to do that always when there is a profile manager. When there is no profile manager than I am more bold and change simple things without notification.
by Pierre Goolaerts G2G6 Mach 2 (22.0k points)
selected by Jan Terink
Good point. Maybe an indication in the db error report if there is an active profile manager or not on a profile would be a good indication to make the decision. A profile manager not been editing profiles the last year is classified as non active etc....
That's getting too complex for little reward, focus your effort on more important stuff*.  People can easily look to see if there is a profile manager and when the last edit was made.


*If you need more to do ;) , try coming up with a way to prevent people from linking up profiles that can't possibly fit (like mother born after son).  Error checking at the time of submission.  That would keep the experienced "fixers" from spending so much of their time going back and fixing things, and put the burden on the initial submitter to get it right, as it should be whenever possible.
To know whether a profile manager is active is not so easy.
Therefore you'll have to go to the manager's profile page and check the contributions.
The last time the profile you are editing was modified, is not relevant.
Pierre. Checking a person's contributions is very easy. You go to their profile page and click on Contributions. I do this regularly. Not sure what you find difficult about it.
Jillaine, that is just what I wrote. You cannot see that on first glance. You have to leave the profile that you are editing. That's what makes it less easy.
Ah. Okay. I don't find doing that, that difficult. Guess I just get into a rhythm.

An active profile manager is a success factor.

If we make the activity of profile managers for locked profiles visible in the statistics we will get a better understanding of how complex this db_errors project is....

It will be a big difference if we have 1 483 020 errors and 90 % of the profile managers hasn't been active the last year and most of those profiles are locked........ 

Compared to we have active profiles managers.....

Clicking on every profile manager to see his/hers activity will not give an understanding....


It would certainly be great if you could do the PM activity (last change date) in the report. But given that there are often multiple PMs, my understanding is that you can only pull out one of them (the first). So in that case, not so helpful.
A good conversation!  I am helping with the errors also. I leave a message for the profiler manager and tell them to check the error either to correct it if it needs correcting, or let me know if it is a false error.  Also, that my comment could be deleted after the problem is resolved. With instructions to contact me if I can help with the correction.....This is if they are active profiles, if they are orphaned I change it and show what I changed and cite the error report.  I actually go search the gender, or spelling, or dob, or dod dates before I make a comment.  So many nice folks have helped me in the past, I am just trying to return the favor.
+9 votes

Answers so far see link

Comments so far 

  1. It is always better to give an active manager a chance to correct it first.
  2. Any change should be BASED ON SOLID SOURCE(S)! If so, i am usually BOLD, otherwise POLITE. Usually I can get solid sources, so usually I am BOLD.
  3. #511 Unique name(spelling) One must be very, very sure before bold editing a unique name. 
  4. Classification should be more like Changing gender, Changing dates, Changing location, Changing relations.
  5. Any change can be reverted, so I would hate to see a reduction in the ability to make bold changes. Any change can be bold if providing a good source (not just a compiled tree, such as Ancestry, My Heritage, etc.) for that change. 
  6. No change should just delete information without replacing it with good information. For "too old" questions, it depends on how old - if we make the gap large enough, it should be a bold change. Hyphenated names are reasonable, but I don't think commas, colons or semicolons are acceptable separators. As for "Father was dead before birth", I have one person in my tree who was born 6 months after his father's death. It may not be possible for a child to be born after a mother's death, but it is possible to be born after a father's death.
  7. I certainly think the typo style errors (107, 107, 602, etc) should be bold. They are often from inactive PMs or older gedcom imports, or are just general housekeeping.
by C S G2G6 Pilot (274k points)
edited by C S
"Father was dead before birth" could be wrong because father's death date is wrong, because child's birth date is wrong, or because the wrong father and child are linked together.  If you have a valid source, then you may need to change the father's profile date or the child's profile date or the linkage.  None of that can be changed without having a source for the data; none of that can be done automatically.  We depend upon our members to enter the correct data and document the sources.
+9 votes
Up to now people are tending to focus on the more trivial and non-genealogical issues like typos and style compliance.

But it seems there are 190,000 cases of parents being too old or too young, or dead or not born yet.  Some of those will be typos, but many will be bad genealogy.

They aren't easy to "fix".  You can't just look up the right answers.  And the PMs only know they got it off the internet.

If you disconnect them, you only make life hard for the Connectors, who will want to reconnect them somewhere.  The fact that changes are only logged at one end can make it impossible to see who a disconnected profile used to be connected to, but that can be the only clue who a profile was ever supposed to be, or whether it's real or fictitious.

In the end the only way is to do the genealogy from scratch, from sources, and then you have the needless extra task of trying to match up the existing junk profiles with the new genealogy somehow, to get rid of them.  (At which point the PMs will just say "not same person".)

The other thing we're starting to see is arbitrary fixing.  If the dates don't work, just massage them far enough to make the error go away.  Died in 1867, child in 1885?  Must have died in 1887 then.  Fixed.
by Anonymous Horace G2G6 Pilot (568k points)
+5 votes
Some of the answers don't make sense.

For instance, 68% say to be BOLD about "profile should be open".  But unless you are the manager, you CAN'T be bold.

And if there is a logical error in the dates, it does no good to just BOLDLY change the dates so they pass the logic test.  If child is born after mother's death, is it the mother's death, or the child's birth that needs to be changed?
by Janet Gunn G2G6 Mach 9 (99.2k points)

>> For instance, 68% say to be BOLD about "profile should be open".  But unless you are the manager, you CAN'T be bold.

Solution change the way WikiTree work as that is what people would like to see...

>> And if there is a logical error in the dates, it does no good to just BOLDLY change the dates so they pass the logic test.  If child is born after mother's death, is it the mother's death, or the child's birth that needs to be changed?

If this is a profile with some genealogy value then maybe you have some sources and its just a mistake. The normal case I have seen is that profile with severe errors has no genealogy work done ==> then you need to find sources.... its basic genealogy 

Bold doesnt mean that you do anything without sources, You never can do genealogy without sources. I get scared when I listen to this merge bot that suggest merges and some people do decisions if it feels ok without sources.... that is not genealogy... its more like story telling...

+8 votes

I don t like this discussion. We all know what the rules are at WikiTree; be polite! 

WikiTree's goal is to be the friendliest site at the internet. So it means for me I will always try to be polite. I will even thank anyone that added something that is unsourced! As I believe that is the way to get to someone and find room to help them to change and do things like we want. And not trying to offend anyone as it will scare them away.  

Being called back is hurting anyway. Especially for new ones, who are unsure, but also at those longer here. I don t care if you change anything at the profiles I made and I still make mistakes, just as I can be too fast or not checking back on a profile. 

I filled out the poll. For your info, as I do not have secrets here, all at polite. As that is what WikiTree is about for me. Being friendly and polite. I added to the comment part: My opinion: Just after a friendly request and NO DEMANDS - if that is not answered there should be a private message following with the request again. If the profile manager is not reacting be as you like. But none should be posted on a profile of guests or new volunteers..  Ask Greeters or Mentors to contact the person. They didn t abide the WikiTree Honorcode yet, so they didn t agree with the WikiTree rules yet. They are very limited on what they can add to the Tree. So please leave those alone. 

They don t know. They need (friendly) guidance. :) 

Now we all have our opinions, we all mean good. I love the DB error tool. First to check my own profiles. Second on the Project I am part of and on the Dutch profiles as I m able to find good sources and I love to help others how to add sources to their profiles. Now......... my message is don t only point what is wrong but offer help, please! 

Thank you all. 


I am sorry if I made language or spelling mistakes. :) Ask me if I was not clear please. English is not my first language. And I do not care if you ask or correct me :D 







by Astrid Spaargaren G2G6 Pilot (242k points)
edited by Astrid Spaargaren

@Astrid maybe then change the help pages Be Bold or Be Polite 

I hope you understand how easy it is to restore a change

Hi Magnus,

I am sorry but I do not understand your comment. Oke I will read the page first. Missed that! TY!

It says WikiTree encourages members to be bold ==> if this is wrong then it needs to be changed....

Nothing wrong there. It s WikiTree policy.

Reading and first three rules are okay with me! Yes we experienced and bold ones here don t feel wrong at any bold things :D I am discussing especially new ones. But same goes for medium experienced Magnus.

And those who are here for many years forgetting how it felt as we started. I think one rule at WikiTree should be added...... Never forget how it felt when you started here. :D

Right put yourself in their shoes. That is what I ask right?

Ok.........  I subscribe that Magnus. But obvious it is not subscribed by all. That is my point. As said DB error is the best tool we have. I L O V E it. Just some don t know how to act bold or polite on others right. Right?
Magnus, anyone who read the Honorcode and abide it will be bold and polite!  But some are just forgetting how it felt to be new here that is my point. And some will seek for help to do things right, some won't. But they do need help.

Posting demands are not helping. Offering help will. :)
Anyone here is tryring to do well............. that is  MY - our believe! If that is not our believe anymore we should stop. :) So new ones are doing the best they can. Medium ones do same. And I agree if none is calling them back at adding unsourced stuff we end up with so many unsourced profiles. Now the way bold is represented there is polite. So let s move on and stop discussing and put time in offering help to new ones. :)

So we don t need to discuss anything lol :) Be bold AND polite. Waisting time. We all know the rules. :) That is why I said I don t like this discussion. We all know! But be polite and sweet, especially on (medium) new ones. Instead of telling them what to do offer them help or ask a mentor or a greeter to help them. End, dot, wikitree love! :D 

Just keep out on new ones. That is all I ask.............. Share them with greeters and mentors please, please, please! They need help not a short "please correct thing". 

And same on other profiles. Tell them what is wrong and ask them to change it but also offer help. That is WikiTree-erish! 


Night and sweet dreams from the dark Netherlands.


@ Magnus...right after the WikiTree encourages members to be bold part it also says : 

That said, WikiTree collaborations are generally more personal than on Wikipedia. Most of us care deeply about our family history and our ancestor profiles. We know that we don't own the profiles we manage but we do care deeply about them.

The WikiTree community should be friendly and communicative. We are a place for genealogists to work together.

We recommend contacting a Profile Manager before making significant or numerous changes to profiles they manage. It's a matter of practical courtesy. You don't want to offend the person if you're trying to work with them.

You want to make clear that you respect them and appreciate what they have contributed.

So I think it's made clear there is a difference between just being Wiki and bold or a WikiTree member and maybe being bold as well, but also try to be polite and communicate about changes (by adding a post or explain what /why in the explain your changes field. 

So it doesn't have to be changed because it is explained WikiTree is different and what is recommended ... 

Perhaps the messages could be a little friendlier or more 'warm' personal, don't know how to explain it exactly, but I see a lot of the messages are just one 'cold' sentence , telling what the 'error' is so maybe the messages could or should be a bit warmer/friendlier ?

But I think it's indeed helpful if we would have some guidelines added to the help page , so thanks for starting this :)

+2 votes
Bold on obvious, such as missing gender when person is a wife, etc.

Polite when it is much more involved and the answer may require some research.
by Walt Steesy G2G6 Mach 2 (21.5k points)

But bold does never never mean that you change without source...

Genealogy is done using sources if not its story telling

Help Sources

A source is the identification of where you obtained information.

Sources are critically important for genealogy. Some even say that genealogy without sources is mythology.[1]

You must include your sources when you put information on WikiTree. It's in our Honor Code.

+76 000 people has signed the honor code list

I would say if you have sources then you can be Bold. 

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