I have a confession to make

+9 votes
I've been fixing broken links, resulting from changes to external sites.

Before that I emptied a few of the 12,000 Misnamed Categories, and before that I was adding project boxes and categories to profiles.

To my mind, none of this need concern Profile Managers.  No genealogy has been changed, nobody's work has been messed with.  There's no criticism or disrespect.  The PMs didn't create these issues.

And to be honest their opinion isn't wanted, because these things are done to support other people's use of the site, which they may not understand or care about.

But I now find I've been inadvertently flouting the Communication guidelines, by "making a series of edits to profiles managed by the same person".

Well of course I didn't anticipate that.  I didn't make a list of all the profiles in advance, and their PMs, and count the numbers.

So am I getting this right?  The Communication guidelines give PMs grounds to complain about the inconvenience of having their profiles fixed.

And I've got some more jobs to add to the list of jobs not to do any more.
in Policy and Style by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (561k points)
Rj, read your question as if it your comments were made to you instead of by you. the comments

"To my mind, none of this need concern Profile Managers.  No genealogy has been changed, nobody's work has been messed with.  There's no criticism or disrespect.  The PMs didn't create these issues.

And to be honest their opinion isn't wanted, because these things are done to support other people's use of the site, which they may not understand or care about."

are very demeaning to the rest of us and you are stating that your changes, that do nothing to affect genealogy, are more important than those of us who are doing actual genealogy.
To me it seems like you're just improving profiles which should be welcomed and the PM should be grateful instead of complaining.  Thanks for all your effort to make Wikitree better!
Dale, I don't know how you got that from anything I said.  There are 300,000 users on WikiTree and they're all PMs.  This includes large numbers of Family Members and Guests.  Most PMs don't know what a PM is, and don't know they've become one.

Many of them just think "they've put their tree on WikiTree".  They wouldn't recognise their own profiles now, as a result of connections, merges and rewrites that they took no part in.

Do they want to be bothered about misnamed categories which they didn't add in the first place?
Rj, If I put your exact words into a message to you about what you do you mean to say that would not get you just a little upset?  You said "And to be honest their opinion isn't wanted", how would you take that as not being a put down and saying that what the other 300,000 PM do is not as important as what you do? We are all working together but you are just changing things and not adding sources for your changes to rack up contribution points from the way I see it, And yes I looked at your more recent contributions this morning. What you do is helpful, but to dismiss every other PM as being unimportant and their opinion is not worth you thinking about is not in the spirit of collaboration. It sounds to me like you do not want the other PM's working on "your WikiTree".

As I said continue with your pet projects and changes, just think about how you could be slowing down the managers who are trying to do actual genealogy before you rush in and walk all over our work.
But it makes no difference if somebody says "I think that category name is fine as it stands".  I might agree, but it's still going to get changed.  There are loads of things I'd do differently, but they have to be done standardly if at all.

If somebody wants to argue about the name, they can take it up with the project, which I'm not in.  All I know is, misnamed categories need replacing.  There's no point in pretending that it's up for discussion on a case-by-case basis.  It's outside the PM's jurisdiction, and mine.  And there's nothing remotely offensive or insulting or demeaning in that statement.
Just like you I feel that in this case your opinion isn't wanted or needed.
Indeed, the facts are what they are and my opinion is irrelevant.

You didn't mention that posting a message in a box also updates the timestamp, so it messes up your system just as much as editing the bio.  You don't just need communication, you need a ban on the most common method of communication.

As for collaboration, doesn't that involve people working on each other's profiles instead of sticking rigidly to their own?  What's the Family Feed for, if only your own work is going to be in it?  Is it the Family CCTV and Alarm System, to keep watch for trespassers?  Admittedly that view is becoming common, and the project usernames were first devised for that purpose.

What's Project Protection for, if ordinary Open profiles are supposed to be so tightly ring-fenced by their PMs anyway?  Seems like all project profiles would be fully protected just by installing a project member as PM.

Why not make all managed profiles Green, so only orphans are Open?  Anybody who feels a need to change anything can just send a PM to the PM.  If there's no response, we've got the unresponsive PM system.

5 Answers

+8 votes
Hello RJ - well, just one man's opinion, but I was the recipient of some of the work of the recategorization committee's work (not sure if it was you or someone else) and while it did raise an eyebrow (as it should) when someone touched up one of "MY" profiles (I use the term loosely), I looked over the work, found no concerns, and went on about my business as usual.

I'll look over that communication guidelines and see what they say. If it does warn against certain behaviors, then I want to make sure I'm aware of them as well.
by Scott Fulkerson G2G6 Pilot (898k points)

I think this might be what you're referring to - what I see here is:

"Be bold: Correct mistakes when you see them."

"We recommend contacting a Profile Manager before making significant or numerous changes to profiles they manage."

So I think the guidelines are made to allow you to fix something broken, but to be careful as in some cases a PM might become concerned about so many changes to their profiles that they jointly manage.
+3 votes

It is always better to communicate with the manager of a profile before doing any edit. What you do not take into account is that your "minor" edits can mess with the way some of us work. I have over 4500 profiles on my watch list and my main focus is to add sources to them at this point. My method is to go thru my watch list sorted by edit date working from the oldest date to the present so when you add or fix a category or links or any of the other things you mention you will mess up my work because the profile you made the minor changes to then drops to the end of my list and it will take much longer before I get to making any real improvements to that profile. I do not object to what you change so much as the fact that you you do disrespect my contributions, not intentionally, by not taking into account that we all work in different ways and what is important to you is not important to everyone.

So yes you should communicate when editing where there is an active manager because even minor changes can have a wider effect than you anticipate and besides it is part of collaborating.

Edited to add  It is not that you should not keep doing what you do but rather take a little time to try and communicate with the other managers first so as to avoid unintentional conflict before it gets started in the first place.

by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
+3 votes
I would echo Dale's comments (well said!) and add this.  The WikiTree communication guidelines emerged at a time when complaints were appearing regularly in G2G from members who felt that profiles they manage were being damaged by undesired edits.  Profile Managers with any longevity here really do understand that this is a collaborative venture, and that they do not "own" the profiles they create or manage.  But each member has his own process and methodology, his own style, and his pride of workmanship in the end result.  Some are more sensitive than others when it comes to encountering surprise changes to these intangible characteristics.  So I think the thrust of the guidelines is just saying be sensitive to that, even when your changes and additions aren't disturbing anyone's genealogy data or "fixing" somebody's earlier work.  Potential conflict with active managers can easily be avoided by communicating in advance.  For cases where the profile manager is inactive, long gone, or just non-responsive, I see no harm in what you're doing and say "Go for it."
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (377k points)
If people explain why they are making minor edits (see my response to RJ's question about using the "Explain My Changes") then there is no reason to always contact a PM before making a minor change.

Obviously common sense should prevail.  A wholescale re-writing of a biography or removal of sources should be consulted on in advance.   Similarly, if someone has created a category which is only used on profiles that that person manages then again, consult with the PM because that category must be there for a reason.   However, minor formatting or clean-up amendments do not require prior consultation with a PM on an open profile provided (if you are the one making the changes) you explain what your are doing - that is the courteous thing to do and takes five seconds to write.
0 votes
Well thanks for the gracious permission, which I won't be needing.  But I should point out that the project slaves out there don't do that stuff because they need it, they do it because WikiTree needs it.  It takes more than a bunch of people intent on publishing their own trees.

I'm detecting a shift here.  This is no longer about protecting data or previous work from vandalism, or even about respecting PMs' contributions (if any).  It's come to be about the convenience of PMs - at the cost of serious overhead in time and trouble for people doing what would otherwise be simple jobs.

I'm astonished that these attitudes have been encouraged on a single shared tree wiki.  Personally I think duplicates should be allowed, then if people don't want to share a profile they can have their own, and set privacy on it.  But if profiles have to be shared, they have to be available to all users on equal terms.  Is it not obvious that this is non-negotiable?

PS i'd also say that the typical profile on WikiTree now is one that several people have had a hand in.  Single-author profiles are increasingly in the minority.
by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (561k points)
edited by RJ Horace

Hi RJ,

I think you're trying to make this too black-and-white. Dealing with other people requires delicacy. Sometimes it requires going out of your way to be sensitive to how others will interpret your words and actions.

Dennis makes some good points about the intent of the http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Communication_Before_Editing page. Some key points from that page:

"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."


And yet, Leigh is advocating ignoring the guidelines. I wasn't.
+5 votes
RJ, the simple thing to do is in the box that says "Explain Your Changes", put a quick phrase to explain what you did.   I just insert in this box "updated category" or "minor formating amendments following merger of duplicate profiles", etc. etc.   Then the PMs can see why the amendments were made.   I dont think you need to communicate this kind of stuff in advance so long you explain in that box what it was that you did.
by Leigh Murrin G2G6 Mach 5 (56.3k points)

I always took it that the box was to explain why, not what, because the system shows exactly what.

And why is often obvious.

That thinking is flawed because the message appears in feeds.  I've often looked at a long Change Log and wished for a clue  So I see the point of using the box just to say what's been done.

But I don't think it addresses the points raised.

And my question was about the Communication page, section 3.2, "Any series of edits to profiles managed by the same person"

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