Proposal: Automatically prune inactive profile managers!

+45 votes

The problem of inactive profile managers recurs again and again.  I've just researched another G2G question where part of the problem was a profile, birth date 1815, set to green privacy status where the profile manager has not been active since 2014.  

I would like to re-propose what seems like a simple fix to this issue -- make profile manager status renewable -- infinitely renewable, but renewable:

After you have been a profile manager for 2 years, an automatically generated email goes to you.  "You are profile manager for John Doe (Doe-234).  There are 4 other profile managers for John Doe.  Would you like to continue as profile manager for another 2 years?  If "yes", just reply to this email.    If "no", do not reply to this email."  

By this process, active members of WikiTree can continue to be profile managers as long as they wish, but the system is shifted to automatically delete profile managers who don't respond.  

In addition people who have been around for a while and should be pruning their watchlist have an automatic way of doing it.  I am going through my watchlist when I have a chance and looking at the profiles I haven't done anything with for the longest.  I have taken myself off some profiles where I've made as much of a contribution as I'm going to make, and staying on just clutters the profile  -- as well as my life.  This automatic renewal process could make such pruning easier -- when I get the automatic renewal email, just ignore it -- and I can prune my watchlist without further steps.  

Chris, what does it take to get something like this added to the "to do" list?   

in Policy and Style by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (385k points)
retagged by Robin Lee
Sounds good to me, just bumped into a similar situation again ;)
great suggestion
Great suggestion. Though the point Shirley makes ("wholesale orphaning of profiles is not going to solve that problem and may create other problems [...]") is also something to keep in mind. Perhaps in time (eventually) also something similar for inactive Project Managers.

Question that comes to mind - when does WikiTree know when a contributor (Profile Manager) has passed?
Just from my experience, usually someone else, generally a spouse or family member,  contacts info@ and lets us know.  Or I've had people email me the obituaries for members that have passed.
Yes orphaning them isn't helping either, I think we had a similar discussion in G2G last week, but can't find it ... maybe if we had something similar like the project profiles, so a 'or the : 'WikiTree profile'' maybe that could be added automatically to these kind of profiles ?

8 Answers

+22 votes
Something definitely needs to be done.  I'd go for automatically generated messages just to inactive profile managers, though.  After you've been inactive for a certain amount of time -- maybe a year? -- you're sent a message asking if you want to continue.  If no response, another message, maybe 30 days later, before action is taken.
by Nan Starjak G2G6 Pilot (318k points)
+11 votes
I love the idea but! I have a family member "inactive" as a backup. We are all getting older sob. Someone needs to be able to access my private profiles. Perhaps an option to appoint this person is required before the cull.
Hi -- this proposal would not cull inactive profile managers from WikiTree, but would simply allow profile managers to remove themselves from profiles one by one by not responding to the renewal email.  Someone who did not respond to any email for 2 years might still be a WikiTree member, but all of their profiles would have "expired".

What you bring up is another important issue -- I think ALL WikiTree members need to complete a "will" specifying what will happen to their membership, profiles especially private profiles, etc, when they die.  There is already some thought on this, but it can be expanded on.  For instance, is it clear what would happen if WikiTree gets a communication, "Hello, I'm the executor of Jack Day'e estate and I'm dealing with his internet memberships....Day specified in his will that George Doe is to handle his WikiTree account."

Jack, all WikiTree members can put a Digital Afterlife Instructions message on their own profiles.

See the bottom of my profile

Maggie, how does that work?  Say I put the same instructions on my profile, and George Smith contacts WikiTree and says, "Hi, I'm the executor and I'm family -- Day's instructions are for Henry Day to manage his profiles -- does that work at the WikiTree end?
We do honor the instructions that are on a profile.
+15 votes
Are you saying I would get an email for every profile I manage?   OMG, please no.  We have people with 5000 profiles they manage....5000 emails?
by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (752k points)
Well, yes, but only as they expired.  And 5000 is the recommended max for active management, isn't it?   I'm not sure I would want more than 2000 -- I would want to let some of those lapse -- and right now it takes an active step to take yourself off a profile.  This way it could lapse automatically.  

So as you get those email notices -- 5000 divided by 730 days in 2 years-- that's less than 7 emails a day -- you would surely say, no, no, yes, no, and you'd clean up your profile overload.  I'm working toward that day in about 20 years when I manage no profiles, and that will be OK, because I'll be dead!
But modifications would be possible.  If it's possible for the computer people to set this up at all, it should be possible to specify your own preferences -- email you regarding every profile, as I suggested,  or email you regarding only profiles you yourself haven't touched in 2 years, or automatically renew  the profiles you manage if you've had any activity on WikiTree in the last six monhths.  I think the machine could do that.  

The key objective would be to bend the system toward removing people from a profile when they've become inactive in some way.
It wouldn't necessarily have to be an email for each an every profile you manage.

It could be simply a single annual email with a checkbox list of profiles due to "expire" that one can tick to keep or not.
Yeah Robin, my heart skipped a beat at the thought of 5000 emails, most coming on gedcom anniversaries.  

I think it is important to have at least one PM on each profile and there is an Unresponsive PM process in place.  This is not a big enough problem to generate thousands of emails to thousands of absentee WikiTreers.  

I like the WikiWill idea mentioned here.  I will be preparing something similar for my own profile.
Solution: polled notifications. The system is triggered by the expiration of a managed profile subscription but is delayed by a month to three months. At the end of that period, an email is sent which contains all subscriptions that would expire and potentially additional subscriptions that would expire in the near future.
+9 votes
I don't think this proposal would work too well.  what about profiles you've basically finished with and just just stay on as PM in case someone wants to discuss things with you or might want to do a merge and you want to make sure it is a wise merge.  The way I'm starting to work on profiles I don't know how often I'd work on more than 7 profiles a day on average.  If we were so far along on the world tree as to need people to give up old profiles to have more to give new people I'd cheer, but we only have about one 500th of the number of currently living people and l'm sure less than one in 1000th of those who have lived since AD 0.  How about just periodically (say once a year on a person's WikiTreeAnniversary, we send a message encouraging that person to verify they're still active, invite them to do the WikiWill thing and encourage them to invite relatives to join WikiTree and gift new members they've invited to be a co manager for profiles they're closely related to?
by Dave Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (410k points)
I think Jack's proposal needs some tweaking, to be sure, but I think the general principle is sound and should be considered.
I agree with Dave.  Now if the definition of inactive was the person hasn't made any contributions to any profile for two years then I would agree with the concept but with one email covering all the profiles they are PM or on the trusted list.

Under Jack's proposal, if a PM is removed what happens to the profile a) if there is no one on the trusted list? b) if there is/are active member(s) on the trusted list who would might be interested in becoming the PM.

Certainly we don't need any more orphaned or WikiAdmin run profiles.
What's wrong with orphans?

Not a bad guess, Dave. I was curious as to what proportion of people in history have been documented on WikiTree, so I did some number crunching in April:

First, I needed an estimate of the people in the target range. I found a page on the Population Reference Bureau site called "How Many People Have Ever Lived On Earth?" From that, I extracted an estimate of 60,439,585,668 people who have been born since 1 AD. As of a few minutes ago, there were 11,200,619 profiles on WikiTree. That means that, currently, there are WikiTree profiles for approximately 0.02% (0.185319255%, as long as I didn't forget to carry a 2 or anything...) of the people in the target range. Or, to put it another way, there is one WikiTree profile for every 5,000+ people in the target range (5,396).


+11 votes

We currently have a system for managing the issue of unresponsive profile managers. You can read about it on the help page here:

by Paula J G2G6 Pilot (256k points)
True, but its tedious and difficult to work with.

Jack's proposal, aside from the as yet and many undefined details, would be one way of automating that very same process.

In other words, why should I send a bunch of emails and have to keep track of who I sent them to and whether or not I got a response, when an automated system can do the same thing with ease?
Sorry, I do not find the Unresponsive profile manager process cumbersome.   I know the process and so I make sure to do the steps needed in the process.
The Unresponsive Profile Manager process is not working, I've put through 3 complaints this year about a profile manager who refuses to merge and nothing has been done. This situation has been a problem for almost 2 years now.
Yes, a system exists. No it is not generally effective. Inactive users and profile managers is a much larger problem and should not be the responsibility of members in isolation. It effects the whole community and adds an undue overhead to appease largely inactive members or members who have effectively abandoned the WikiTree project.

Look at it like this. We are rapidly reaching a point in the history of social media where the number of dead users and their profiles will outnumber the number of living and active users and their profiles. WikiTree will have that problem even if it doesn't presently.
+11 votes

I have run into the problem with unresponsive profile managers in the past and I understand the frustration some people can feel. However, wholesale orphaning of profiles is not going to solve that problem and may create other problems. It is too easy for a vandal to come in or just  someone unfamiliar with the families and make totally erroneous and damaging merges. This is happened in the past and took a great deal of work to correct the problems that were created.

Profile managers have responsibilities and serve a function. Who will perform those functions if thousands of profiles are orphaned on a regular basis?

Profile Managers:

  1. Receive merge proposals via e-mail.
  2. Receive Trusted List requests via e-mail.
  3. Receive notices about comments posted on the profile via e-mail.
  4. Can delete inappropriate comments and memories.
  5. Can adjust the Privacy Level.
  6. Can add and remove other managers.
  7. For Project-Protected Profiles, the manager can edit parents, along with Project Coordinators and Leaders.
If you are interested enough in a particular profile to want to work on it, then you should be interested enough to be willing to take the responsibility of becoming a profile manager by going through the Unresponsive Profile Manager process. It is not that difficult. It does take a little time, but if you really want to take responsibility for that profile it is worth it.


by Shirley Dalton G2G6 Pilot (500k points)

I sense conflicting goals here.

I've read that many prefer to leave orphaned profiles. That allows others who have signed the Honor Code (so they wouldn't intentionally be vandals), the ability to adopt and make necessary edits.

Apparently others think there shouldn't be any orphaned profiles.

I see pro and cons for each... but its a different topic (though somewhat related) from the current thread.

I don't feel that there should be no orphaned profiles. I have orphaned quite a few myself. But that is after I have added what sources and information I have found for that profile. I think you will find that many profiles of Unresponsive Profile Managers have little or no information and are the product of gedcoms that were uploaded and then abandoned

I do feel that profiles should have as much information as can be found added to them before they are orphaned. I don't think this would be accomplished by wholesale orphaning of profiles as has been suggested and talked about here.
This assumes that the majority of profile manangers will effectively elect to orphan profiles. This system proposal won't much effect the subscriptions of ACTIVE profile manangers because they will be and are reponsive to changes in the WikiTree system and to their profiles.

The only advantage to the way things are done now is that inactive profile managers effectively lock out certain kinds of edits to the profiles that are managed under their permissions. So what you're talking about isn't actually about active managers but about passive edit locks. IF that is actually what is at issue for you then why don't we make a proposal that ALL profiles default to the passive edit lock status? Would that be better?
+11 votes
Ah, what a wonderful response to this note while I was taking a bumpy ride from Baltimore to Denver on Southwest!  Of them all, the calculation that Robin, with 5000 profiles, would get 7 emails a day for the rest of her life, was the most persuasive to me in seeing flaws in the original proposal!  

The essence of what I was trying to get at is that yes, right now we have an "active" process regarding inactive profile managers -- active in the sense that somebody who needs a merge or to edit/link to a file less than 200 years old must actively do something to remove the roadblock that an inactive manager is, and it consumes our time right in the middle of genealogical work we're trying to do.  What I'm seeking is a "passive" process where if the inactive manager doesn't respond to something generated by a computer, their profile management status stops.  

It doesn't have to be 7 emails a day.  Someone suggested linking this to the watchlist, which is a great idea.  So maybe once a year you get one automatically generated email that says, "Hi, here is the list of 5000 profiles you manage.  Please either  (a) check "retain all",  (b) retain me as profile manager on only those that are checked (c)  or  retain all EXCEPT those that I have checked, I no longer wish to manage those.   If you don't respond to this email AND have not engaged in any activity on WikiTree for the last year (or six month, or three months), we will accept that as your message that you no longer wish to manage any profiles."  

So my intent is not really to get active members to reduce the number of profiles you manage -- that's an individual choice within your ability to respond reasonably to merge and trusted list requests.  My intent is to have some automatic process to get inactive people out of the way of active managers who find themselves stymied by an inactive manager and really don't have the time to go through the process that we currently have.  

Some else has said that it's bad to have "orphaned" profiles that nobody manages.  That's a good separate topic, but here the issue would be, "which is worse, an orphaned profile that anybody can claim, or a profile 'managed' by someone who hasn't been on WikiTree since 2014 and whose presence on the profile wastes time that we wish we could spend improving it?
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (385k points)
edited by Jack Day
+8 votes
I think that the basic idea is fine, except that it really would be too unweildy in implementation. There are enough people dropping out from the site, for various reasons, without adding another.

Rather than look at profiles, just concentrate on profile managers. On a pay site, you are contacted every year (or 6 months) to basically pay up, or leave. OK wikitree isnt pay, but why not send the same sort of email every year (on account anniversary) with a link that jumps them straight into their own profile, that they then have to accept, to continue on for another year.( Maybe sign the honour code again, or re-new the honour code)  Failure to do this within say 30 day, will mean something like account suspension, until re-apply, or something like that.
by Dave Welburn G2G6 Pilot (131k points)

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