Is raw GEDCOM in the biography the best way to add extra data fields?

+2 votes

The problem with WikiTree as a repository for maintaining research aimed at publication in South Africa (GISA, Familia, Capensis, etc) is its bare-bones selection of fields in the database. There are good reasons for that and I do not wish to push for including more. But we need that data maybe a little more badly than WikiTreers elsewhere.

For a long time, church records and gravestones were our only reliable genealogical sources. Giving a baptism date in a South African publication is still tantamount to asserting that a church register is one's primary source for important genealogical data like LNAB, birth date and identity of parents. Omitting it is tantamount to admitting that such a source was not available.

We must have a way of including this information in a way that WikiTree GEDCOMs will export it and report generators can easily retrieve it.

I was justifiably shot down recently on G2G for trying to smuggle baptism data into the place-of-birth field. The snipers did not even need the argument that it would solve only one problem. What's next? Burial?

The only solution that I can think of that solves all such problems in one go, is including GEDCOM-formatted data in a labelled section at the end of the biography. If members of the South African Roots project like this idea, we should agree on a standard label like "Extra Fields" that we all use. There is an example on [[Laurie-474|my profile]].



in Policy and Style by Dirk Laurie G2G6 Mach 3 (35.4k points)
Dirk, I believe the current gedcom import process accomplishes more or less what you're seeking but without an "Extra fields" sub header. It has bold headings for each fact that it converted from a gedcom fact or event data item.

Can someone please point to a recent example?
This isn't a great example because it's not sourced but does show how the other fact fields were incorporated into the biography from the gedcom import:
My issue is not with imported GEDCOMs, but with exported GEDCOMs. Does GEDCOM export recreate GEDCOM fields from the biographies generated by GEDCOM import? If not, I see no merit in imitating their style.
Wikitree's export GEDCOM feature is not very strong; it does not convert text in narrative back into the data fields from which they initially came.

I will say that I have never considered wikitree as equivalent to genealogy software. I keep my own genealogy file in my own offline family tree software (I use Reunion on a Mac). I simply cannot get what I need from wikitree's technology to rely on it as the only place I manage my information.

Yep, that requires maintaining parallel systems for my own family's information, but that's what I have to do.
How do you sync? Import a GEDCOM every now and then and let WikiTree sort out the matching?
I don't go near GEDCOM importing or exporting.

I update wikitree profiles/my offline file manually. Allows me greater control.

3 Answers

+2 votes
Best answer
Hi Dirk,

WikiTree is a fantastic free site with great features, but the proper way to do it is that WikiTree should get up to standard with other Genealogy software and sites and should add the needed fields. No number of workarounds is going to last.

In comparison to the world population and potential size of The One Tree, the database is but a fraction of its potential size at the moment.

There should be separate fields for baptism and birth. For the biggest part the only records before 1850 were church baptism records. In the same way you should be able to distinguish between married and unmarried people on the same profile who had children.  Children should be listed with the right spouse/partner and not in one group.

Then there is the fiasco with married names which go to the unsearchable aka field.

I suggest an upgrade to WikiTree as the only viable long term solution before the concept gets jacked by another entrepreneur and you get an exodus of members and potential data.
by Louis Heyman G2G6 Mach 5 (59.6k points)
selected by Dirk Laurie
I did not want to say this out loud but now that the Project Leader has done so, all I can do is applaud and star it as best answer.
Well, I did not know this was going to happen (i.e. that if I star an answer, all other discussion stops). So much for my G2G6 badge :-(! But now that it has, it is maybe a good thing after all, otherwise we snipe at straw targets and wander off the point.

I agree with Louis that in the long run WikiTree just has to adapt or die, but I am over 70 and do not expect that to happen in my lifetime. In the meantime, I need a workaround that will allow me to export non-database information from WikiTree and produce a computer-generated report in a format of my choosing.

I hereby abandon the misguided notion of getting people to agree on a standard of how to do this. All I ask is that, if at the bottom of the biography in a profile that I edited, you see some lines that look like gibberish, lots of single-digit numbers and weird abbreviations all in capitals, please do not in an excess of zeal remove it.

I wonder if instead of placing the gibberish at the bottom of the profile *visibly*, where it IS likely to get removed, you could use wiki code to "hide" it. It would still be there in the Edit view, but not visibly when someone is looking at the profile itself. You can hide text on a profile by wrapping it in the following code:

<!-- gibberish goes here -->
If it were possible to upvote a comment, I would do so. This is a great idea. Ars est celare artem.
+2 votes

Dirk, I am not sure I understand your whole concept about GEDCOM imports & exports, but I do not like the idea of including a heading "Extra Fields" in a biography.

Why not just call the information by is correct description, as in your case "Christening"

If you look at, I called it "Baptism" and added the date, place and source.

I do not agree that it should be set as as standard in the South African Roots Project. I would rather see it in the same format as the  Dutch Cape colony Project.

by Esmé van der Westhuizen G2G6 Pilot (115k points)
edited by Carole Partridge
You are right, I don't need a special field name for my purpose.

Perhaps I should explain what that is. I want to be able to create a rich, well-stocked GEDCOM from the spartan one that WikiTree puts out without human intervention. The only way I can see to do that is to put actual GEDCOM code in the biography. This gets exported as e.g.

2 CONT 2 PLAC NG Kerk Tafelberg
2 CONT 2 DATE 1946-02-04
2 CONT 2 _BY Ds D P Laurie

A one-line Perl script can do the job of stripping off the "2 CONT " giving valid GEDCOM as long as these lines appear at the very end of the biography. No need for a special heading.
Now I understand what your require. I have tried a download a long time ago and it was not very successful. I am not sure how many people make use of the function.

I have now requested another one and got a message saying that it might take up to an hour before I get it. Will check in the morning to see what it looks like.

I'm VERY curious about your experiment, Dirk. Do let us know if it works.

AND if you can "hide" it as I suggested above, and still have it work. Say:

<!-- Please do not delete the following lines:

2 CONT 2 PLAC NG Kerk Tafelberg
2 CONT 2 DATE 1946-02-04
2 CONT 2 _BY Ds D P Laurie



+2 votes
Dirk, The set fields are there as common to most profiles. They are the basic identifiers for a profile. i.e. Name, Name at birth, Date of Birth, Date of death, Gender etc.

Any other data such as Baptism date, Headstone data, Census data, can be entered into the Biography section.

When you import a GedCom file, the basics (name. d.o.b etc) are entered into their correct fields, whilst any other information automatically goes into the biography section, for you to format or edit.

The 'extra data' field that you ask for is already there.... it is named 'Biography'
by Dave Welburn G2G6 Pilot (107k points)

Hi Dirk

We are Wiki and your profile and the way you want to submit narrative that appears below the vital statistics (name, birth, marriage, death, etc.) on the profile page is only ruled by style rules. See Styles and Standards and you are free to create your narratives within these style rules. 

Within a project we keep to these rules and adhere to the style agreed upon by others who had a long walk with WikiTree and a project at large.

The COGH and South African Roots projects had many discussions about the basic Biography and adding Birth / Baptism / Marriage / Death information under there own little headings works best for first glance information and finding mistakes See [[Ockerse-140 |Sara Bekker]]  with the exception that we (South African Roots) will not keep data that does not add information about, or specific context to, the profiled individual, such as program specific information generated by an uploaded GEDCOM. See GEDCOM-created biographies.  

Using these headings, imported data can be moved and your entry would look like this;


Datum: Year-month -date

Plek: NG Kerk Tafelberg 

Deur: Ds D P Laurie

You can then also add the name of the infant and the names of the parents for more detail. 

The above also provide the opportunity to add a source other than the GEDCOM :-))  

You can also include a heading for events. This is your opportunity to put flesh on the bones of ancestors and invite collaboration from members of the WikiTree community who share your interest in or relationship to the person. See [[Burn-129|Thomas Reuben Whitfield Burn]] 

Hope this explain the view of the South African Roots project  to your enquiry "should the South African Roots project agreed to a standard label." 

Have a nice day.










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