Should we add a "note" about certifications on our Membership page?

+38 votes
Based on some comments I have received, I wonder if we need to be more "upfront" about our Pre-1700 and Pre-1500 certifications and the reasons for them on our Membership page.

It would appear that newer members are sometimes surprised by the "controls" we have put on those profiles.
in Policy and Style by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (888k points)
edited by Kay Wilson
Yes, this needs to be added to the Membership page.

4 Answers

+29 votes
Best answer

I would agree with the comments above and also suggest that perhaps new members not be allowed to apply for either one of the Pre-1700 / Pre-1500 certifications on the same day (or couple of days) of registration and confirmation process. 

They definitely haven't had the time to read up on the many topics we have, or read about the various projects they can join. They haven't had the experience not only to add their immediate family members but to add much needed sources as well. They are just learning about merging, and not having duplicate profiles etc. Nor had they had the opportunity to coordinate with others on ideas, situations, name conventions etc on the first day or so.  

I know as a mentor there has been an increase of needing mentors for our beginners lately.  I also have been getting more requests for help when the member runs into a problem about a profile like having the same person attached as mother and sister for example or how to connect to an already established profile that falls into the Pre-1700 / Pre 1500 area or merging a new profile that they made to one of the pre-established profiles with the same name. 

by Dorothy Barry G2G Astronaut (2.8m points)
selected by Deborah Collier
I'm in full agreement with Dorothy here ... but again - the pre-1700 should be pre-1800! Because it does not help that the pre-1700 only covers one third of our project while the most duplicates made are in the 18th [pre-1800] and (!) the 19th century - the latter which has seen an exponential growth in volume of profiles and duplication, and this is an issue that also somehow needs adressing ...
I agree Dorothy!
+24 votes
Yes it needs to be added to the membership page and  explained better  or  explained on the certification page. I see many pre-1700 certified members with no listed project and that is a requirement for certification. The pre-1500 is harder to be certified for.
by David Selman G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
Note:  Many of us were pre-1700 certified before that project-participitation requirement was added.

Indeed, and the question that comes to my mind - I already have my hands full with "mentoring" (actually just trying to provide practical advice in a non-flowery and generic fashion) in specific cases where the person may need someone in his / her own language explaining the steep climb that is working this platform [with varied succes - it doesn't always pay off] - there are just so many "hands" on a team that can teach co-project members best practices, that if it is going to be an obligation to take on new project members just because they need to certify, it will hamper the progress we are making. We do have a few good apprentices though ... getting them to work boldly and carefully in a considerate fashion (collaborative / scholarly) can in some case be time consuming and exhaustive. It is even difficult keeping experienced projectmembers with more than 20000 contributions in check at times ... I do not need a correction officer's badge for this - I just have to get the "job" done in a decent and as validatory way possible.

Maybe I'm remembering wrong, but I recall that when I first took the pre-1700 certification "test" (back when it was new), most (possibly all) of the questions were about information sources. I thought the test was a good learning tool -- and it conveyed the message that people who work on pre-1700 profiles need to be cognizant of source quality and the importance of original records. Over time, the focus seems to have shifted. Although there are a few questions about sources, as of today fully half of the test is about what I would call "protocol for collaborating/interacting with other WikiTree contributors" (and I think the sourcing questions are easier). Considering that this test is primarily a teaching/learning tool, I think it would be productive to make the test a bit harder, with more content on the subject of sourcing for the profiles of long-ago ancestors.

Also, the answers to the last question bother me -- the answer to "What do you need to do before adding a historically-significant person or anyone born before 1700?" is "See if there is a related project and if so, communicate with the project members." Apparently it is no longer necessary to "Carefully review the auto-search results" and "Do a careful search of all likely spellings." While coordination with projects is good, I don't much like the idea that contributors are supposed to run to a project for advice before they have taken responsibility for doing their own investigations. Project leaders/members can hardly be expected to have information at their fingertips regarding every person who fits in the project scope, and the interaction is likely to be more productive when the person seeking advice has done some of their own "legwork" before approaching the project.
In full agreement Ellen.
+20 votes

I definitely agree!  As a Volunteer Coordinator responsible for steering people who certify for pre-1700, I get a shocking amount of "What do you mean I have to be working on a project? Where does it say that?" Despite the pop up messages that come on pre-1700 profiles and other things.  I have it on the VoCo page as well, in bold: "Any member who wants to edit Pre-1700 Profiles must take the Pre-1700 Self-Certification Quiz and be in contact with the appropriate project, if there is one. Volunteer coordinators monitor the Pre-1700 badge feed, and suggest projects appropriate for the recipients' interests."

I honestly think Pre-1700 should not be self-certified, but it should be given by project Leaders only, and only once a member is actively contributing in a positive manner. know what they say about opinions.  :D

Edit: Adding more because I'm so opinionated. While working the Pre-1700 badge feed, I see so many people who barely even know how to use WikiTree, get their pre-1700 certification immediately after signing up. (I know, because I did it myself!! That's what got me in so much trouble in the beginning!!!  Immediate access to adding early profiles).  Then, when I give them my standard spiel about joining a project, they are surprised or shocked, some get mad and say "I shouldn't have to do that," some are happy to have direction, and some just say "I don't intend to stay here, I just did that because it was available."  I truly believe giving Pre-1700 certification to Project Leaders would be the best method of prevention for these problems.  Prevention is key, right? Granted, it would put me out of a job (working the Pre-1700 feed), but that would free up my VoCo team to focus on the actual new volunteers. 

by Summer Orman G2G6 Mach 9 (96.8k points)
edited by Summer Orman
You have my vote on this one as well, thanks Summer!
+10 votes

The current description on the Pre-1700 certification quiz page reads like this.  To me, it isn't nearly clear enough that project participation is required.  If it gets changed on the membership page, it should definitely be changed here too.

"As every experienced genealogist knows, the Internet is filled with incorrect family tree information. Some mistakes get repeated on WikiTree over and over again, requiring our best members to spend all their time repeatedly fixing them. It's led many good genealogists to give up on the entire idea of a collaborative single family tree.

We all want to spend more time on higher-level contributions, and we want to have fun doing it as a community. Therefore, before members add or edit people from 300+ years ago we ask them to confirm a familiarity with genealogical sources and with the peculiar problems of broad-based collaboration on WikiTree. You also need to coordinate with other members who are working on profiles from the same time period, location, or historical topic, if a project exists. See Pre-1700 Profiles and Pre-1700 Projectsfor more information.

This isn't a test. It's an educational quiz and self-certification. Try to answer each question. Then select all the incorrect answers to see full explanations. To complete it, all the correct answers need to be selected and you need to certify that you understand them with the checkbox at the bottom. It won't take more than 10 or 20 minutes.

Don't hesitate to ask any questions in G2G. Thank you!

by Summer Orman G2G6 Mach 9 (96.8k points)

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