Did you see that all profiles of people who were born 150 years ago or who died 100 years ago must now be Open?

+87 votes

Hi WikiTreers,

We've been discussing changing our privacy rules for a long time.

We've now made a decision and are starting the process of implementing an important change.

The new rule: Profiles of people who were born over 150 years ago or who died over 100 years ago must be Open.

As of today, that applies to profiles of people born before 14 April 1867 or who died before 14 April 1917.

Until now the rule was that profiles of people born over 200 years ago must be Open. We aren't changing any other privacy rules. See https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Privacy

Here are some notes on how we will be implementing the change.

Right now help pages and explanations are being updated, and we're changing profiles' Privacy pages and the bulk Privacy Changes tool so that they can't be used to change the privacy level of a 150+ profile to anything but Open. (The tools won't require changing any profile's privacy level. This is just to prevent changing them from Open to something else.)

Next we will update the code that sets the default privacy level for new profiles.

Soon we will make it so that any time a 150/100+ profile is edited it will be changed to Open if it isn't already. The member will see an alert stating this.

A little later we will change all existing 150/100+ profiles that are currently Public to Open. This won't require special communication with Profile Managers because it's a policy change, not a privacy change. No information that is currently private will become public.

The hardest part will be addressing existing 150/100+ profiles that are currently Private. We will wait before addressing these so that Profile Managers have plenty of time to do it themselves.

The team can't just Open these profiles because there's a chance that there is something private in a biography, memory, or photo. This might seem unlikely, but it's not. For example, a 75+ year old living person could easily appear as a child in a photo of a great-grandparent who was 75+ at the time, and not want this photo public.

If there's a chance that private information would be exposed by making a profile Open, the team will attempt to work with the Profile Manager to delete it before the privacy level is changed. In some cases, we'll end up having to completely delete photos and profiles, despite the damage that deletion does and the risk of losing somebody's valuable family history.

If you have any questions about the implementation, please ask them here.

If you don't like the new rule, you're welcome to post your concerns. However, please read the previous discussions first. It's likely that others had similar concerns and that they were discussed and considered. We have not made this decision lightly or quickly, and we don't expect to be reopening it any time soon. No rule will perfectly fit all situations or please everyone. 

Onward and upward,


asked in The Tree House by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)

@Lindy Jones I think Wikitree should have a special discussion/talk tab on all profiles ==> no one gets problem....

As you can read from Nicky she got stressed when I helped her... and i got a little bit frustrated because it was complex "helping" her.... when it doesn't makes fun for me I do something else... 

Last week I helped with profile Elg-19#Sources just to check the possibility ==> some hours research 

  1. we had +30 sources
  2. 12 uploaded pictures
  3. Created a check what gaps we still have 
  4. We created a special Space page for the Profile Manager to ask question on Space:Wetterskog_Dalarna_Sweden_Research_page 
  5. I did videos
    1. How to Find the Estate and Inventory
    2. Another video explaining the resources available
    3. Yesterday a video how i missed to find a Churchbook record
      1. After some more thinking I added a section in Research Notes and found the missing record

As said it earlier fix another tab Research Notes that is open for everyone... If you send 30 emails with 30 resources I guess a rookie on Swedish Genealogy will just be confused...  and if you read Nicky comment "had me in tears"  and I felt nothing happened.... its complex enough to do Swedish Genealogy then wait that someone should learn all the basics feels not an option...

My comment to Nicky was just so that she got perspective on her comment how negative it is to open profiles.... with more open profiles she would have got more help from me.....

As genealogy is complex I guess it fast gets so complex that the profile manager who is blood related doesn't follow what has been done... is that good or bad?!?!?

I am related to Eva who is much more skilled than me in Swedish genealogy we are 7th cousins once removed as I can't read documents dated 
1758 I have to trust her skills reading an estate and inventory like below ce la vie... and this are the easy documents....

Big pic Estate and inventory after farmer 
Lars Eriksson (abt. 1710 - 1758)

What can be done
My feeling today that WikiTree needs to be better how we should work together and how to transfer knowledge. One step is open profiles but better tools are needed and also attract people interested in Genealogy today in Sweden the best people don't use Wikitree which is sad...

I have said it before and I will say it again but this time with a Texas twist.

This change has been discussed in detail for over 2 years. A lot of pros and cons were laid out and picked apart for a very long time. Notifications were sent to every member via the Wiki Genealogy Feed.

Lindy you should have voiced your opinion back then, not now. Chris made the decision and I believe it was the appropriate thing to do.

I for one am tired of getting notices because those who didn't voice their opinions earlier are doing so now. 

It is what it is.
Get over it!
Suck it up, Buttercup.
Move forward.
Be an adult and stop acting like a spoiled brat.

Let's all move on and continue to make WikiTree the Very Best It Can Be.

Okay guys, if you want to discuss the policies that's great, but please let's keep it from going into personal attacks at each other. Thanks!
Nicky, I just read your comment on the privacy changes. Very succinct and I agree wholeheartedly.
Why do you people keep discussing something that has been discussed for at least two years; where were you then?

Two + years of discussions, you all had a chance to voice an opinion back then before the rules were changed. Please, for the sake of my email inbox, stop complaining about it.

Accept the change and move forward! Or pay Ancestry which is full of misinformation but one can set it to PRIVATE. I much prefer WikiTree over anything else on the web.

Thanks go out to Chris for making the right decision.

This is not personal, just documented facts.

Please close the discussion.

@Loretta relax

feels like you would like to have open profiles and closed discussion ;-)

Changes take time

Magnus: I've seen you mention the discussion tab in other threads, and I concur. We need the ability to discuss profiles more indepth and directly; public comments and G2G are too limited in what they can accomplish for true collaboration.

Loretta: Not everyone who is concerned by this change was a member 2 years ago; with WikiTree's steep learning curve (my opinion), I don't know how newer members could have found the older discussions without following the specific G2G tags. I see nothing in my Wiki Genealogy Feed related to G2G posts; I do follow the Announcements tag and see related posts in the G2G Discussion Feed (perhaps you consider those as a single feed?).

I voiced my opinion in the discussions held in March; I just believe that the vast majority of members didn't, and mainly because the discussions weren't properly publicized to our full membership.I don't believe that expressing my opinion is being a brat; we are all free to do so here in G2G, unless I am mistaken. If some of us want to express our displeasure with this new guideline, we are free to do so until Chris closes this thread!

Eowyn: For the record, let it be known that I did not attack anyone personally with my opinions. I sometimes direct my replies to another member's comments by leading with his/her name. If anyone viewed that as a personal attack, you were mistaken! And if anyone was personally attacking me, I could not care less!!

Magnus, you were on the trusted list of some of the Swedish profiles I manage as you requested to be and as I was more than happy to make you, until you asked to be removed because "I have too many profiles on my watch-list". I still have the email. FTR, I am not into ownership, and I am very much so into collaboration. Not one of my profiles was set higher than green - so, totally public, but with the added security that I could protect the integrity of them. I had a very good reason for feeling the need to appropriate the green privacy control to the Andersson profiles, and I make no apology for that. I was operating within the boundaries of this site, in the spirit of this site, and with all good intention. Anyone who chooses to believe because of my views voiced here and in the prior threads on this subject that I am into ownership and anti collaborative is of no concern to me, I could care less. And all I have to say to any member who decides I am not worthy of their "help" because of my views or my past choice to have some profiles green is that it says way more about your need to control and not have to communicate than it does about me.  

That said, I agree, it is time to move on and lump it. For my part I will be doing so solely as a manager of the profiles I've created. My passion for this site is gone. When it became clear to me in March that the site and the profiles I had created were going to be forced open I locked my personal profile down to red, made all living people unlisted, and removed all my dna information. I have lost faith in the integrity of wikitree. I am very upset that two of my living mother's grandparents profiles have been forced open and that within three years a third will be. I have worked very hard on all of the profiles to make them accurate, beautiful, and informative for their descendants, and to aid credibility to wikitree. Not one of the over 800 profiles I manage is unsourced, or untidy. Now, any Joe Bloggs may rock on in and make changes without so much as saying Hi to me, or merge with the like of ancestry gedcoms - have no doubt this will happen. I am not sorry for feeling that this is totally disrespectful to not only the work I have put into this site, but also to me personally and to my living mother. 100 years is not allot of time at all in genealogical terms.

The issue was always UPMs, and as I've said in the past, making this change, imho, was never going to be the solution to that problem. 

WikiTree sends us a Family Feed each Wednesday, I always check my feed to see if anything has been changed or added to my profiles, NOT ONCE has anything been added that was incorrect, I am thankful for the help I received from other WikiTreers!
that is good for many reason, I could go on and on, but it is not needed. but I do want to say this, one area where wiki is start to catch up with other sites.

12 Answers

+28 votes
I don't think this will affect any profile I'm the manager of, and I'm not even sure if it will affect an profile I'm interested in having open, but I like the change and the protections being put in place to make sure nobody's privacy is being violated.  I hope this won't be a game changer for any of our currently active genealogists.
answered by Dave Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (367k points)
I set Alexander Milton Ross to "open". The rest of my green locks are recently deceased.
I had my grandfather's profile set as open and it has automatically been changed to open with no option for any other privacy setting. He died in 1953 clearly not 100 year's. I am very unhappy with what WikiTree has done.  How do I change the privacy level back to public. This is a game changer for me.
First you need to log in. Then, on his profile, click on the privacy tab, arrow down to the green lock, click on the little circle to the left of the lock. Then go down to SAVE and click.
I did that and it is not giving me the option to change the privacy setting.
It's a game changer for me! And I know I am far from alone.
+27 votes

"any time a 150/100+ profile is edited it will be changed to Open if it isn't already. "

This by itself is worth the price of admission. 

Many thanks for both the change in policy and this software tweak. 

answered by Tom Bredehoft G2G6 Pilot (187k points)
+20 votes
This is wonderful news! Thank you so much!
answered by J Steinbach G2G6 Mach 3 (33k points)
+19 votes
I just opened a bunch of profiles that were green on my watchlist that fit this criteria.  Hopefully it will be helpful to someone.  I will be looking specifically for more Merritt profiles to be opened.
answered by Kristin Merritt G2G6 Mach 1 (14.9k points)
+8 votes
Could we have a database error that show's us which of our profiles are green locked or higher but meet this criteria so that is easier to work out which ones need to be reviewed?
answered by Paula Dea G2G6 Mach 5 (52k points)
You can sort your watchlist by privacy level. That's any efficient way to see what you are looking for.

Click on the lock icon on the upper right to sort the list by privacy. It will show Open profiles on top. Then a little arrow (actually, it's just a triangle) will appear next to the lock icon. Click on that to put the most private profiles on top.
Error is already prepared and will be published next week after CAT. There is cca 25K private profiles, that need to be opened and 640K public profiles to open. Public will not be an error, since we will probably open them in a batch.
+5 votes
I am very disappointed with the decision to Open profiles before 1868. I have many early profiles I have worked very had on and wrote long biographies for. I am hoping that they will not be edited in any careless manner. I am hoping no one will try to merge Ancestry dot com gedcoms with them. I would rather be contacted by anyone who wants to edit my detailed biographies so we can collaborate. I have no idea if any of them should be Project Protected even tho i am involved in many projects and name studies. And what good are their trusted lists now?
answered by Sharon Centanne G2G6 Pilot (139k points)
Sharon, if you monitor your 'Family Activity Feed' you will be able to see if anyone has made a change to any of the biographies for people on your watchlist, and will be able to contact anyone else who has worked on them so you can discuss what should or shouldn't be in their biography.
Kay, Just in the last 2 days I have encountered several changes made to Open profiles where the other member removed things that are recommended by the Style Guide. There are a lot of new members who want to jump in and do things quickly and have not taken the time to learn how things are done here so this change will be making a lot of extra work for all of us. Yes there are a lot of members who do good work, but removing headers and other recommended biography items takes no research but earns the same contribution points ans a well researched source does.

>> but earns the same contribution points and a well researched source does.

contribution points just tell that you saved often ;-) it says nothing about genealogy. 

2000 unsourced important profiles is 2000 point ==> higher number maybe is more less research done per point...

Today I travelled +1200 km so that I could together with Bildtse-2 during 4 hours locate the house of Ericsson_Bildt-1 at Kvistofta nr4 ==> 1 contribution point

Above the picture we had of the house that was found at location 
55.958583, 12.832209



Dale you started to speak about contribution points when the subject was about protecting the quality of profiles..... 

With your logic if Wikitree stop measuring number of edits that would make the overall quality better because people chasing high contribution numbers will get less motivated to edit and maybe those people do less good edits....

The said thing is that maybe you have a point.... 

My point has always been if you would like to get quality inside WIkiTree start measure quality and instead of number of saves...


I too am very disappointed in this decision. My experience in the past with the open profiles that i manage has not been positive. Many carelessly add and delete information, without understanding how WikiTree editing is done. The result: a once orderly, accurate profile is turned into a mangled, defective, unreadable profile. Dates of birth and death are somehow switched, names deleted, truncated or meaningless sources are added - and in the wrong place! Also, some persons do not like biographies, and go about deleting them in open profiles, preferring a list of dates instead. So this newest change to WikiTree is not welcome to me. It will make it very hard - if not impossible - to follow and correct the mutiliations done to the profiles that we manage. To spare myself this grief, I am considering no longer creating profiles of persons who died over 100 years ago. :(
I agree with quality instead of the number of saves. I have had problem with a contributor copying an entire "genealogy book" into my line without checking for sources.  What a mess!

>> I agree with quality instead of the number of saves.

See quality-scale suggestion and Space:Quality_Scale

+17 votes
Thanks for making this change. What is the proposal for the large number of undated profiles which are locked by non responsive managers that would fall into this category?
answered by Fiona Gilliver G2G6 Mach 7 (71.6k points)
On an individual profile I would expect that we'll be able to do an Open Profile Request in the same way that we previously could with undated profiles of people born 200 years ago.

I don't think you could write a bulk script that would open *all* of them, but I wonder if there's a way to do something like "open all public ancestors of people born in 1878 and earlier even if they're undated, because those people were almost certainly born before 1868".
That is a problem! The "unresponsive manager" process works, but it's slow and cumbersome, completed one profile at a time. Sounds like those will be handled in due course by the various phases of implementation. I see this as a move to help with that problem.

From what I've seen, many of the problem profiles you describe came in via GEDCOM, which set the privacy level by default. Many of those profiles are not even looked at again after being uploaded, much less cleaned up. One of their shared traits is that when there's a middle name, it's entered with the given name, and generates up an error message. I wouldn't be surprised if some/many of those GEDCOM uploaders didn't stick around long enough to learn about what privacy levels are, how to set them.

I applaud this change, which will reduce the size of this problem.
+2 votes

I don't understand this statement:

"A little later we will change all existing 150/100+ profiles that are currently Public to Open. This won't require special communication with Profile Managers because it's a policy change, not a privacy change. No information that is currently private will become public."

How can an open profile still be private?

answered by Emma MacBeath G2G6 Pilot (521k points)
All Public (Green) profiles have all of their information available to be viewed by any visitor. There is nothing viewable on a Public profile that is hidden from an Open profile.

The only difference is that one must be the profile manager or on the trusted list in order to edit a Public profile.

"No information that is currently private will become public" 

 because I know there is no private information on a public profile.  It may have just been the way it was worded that threw me.

+7 votes
answered by Eunice Pender G2G4 (4.5k points)
+4 votes
Is there a way to protect the change log covering the timespan before the profile was opened? Otherwise not only can anyone still see what was on it before, but the edited-out sensitive parts will be easy to find, neatly collected just before the profile was opened.
answered by Dirk Laurie G2G6 Mach 3 (33k points)
Yes. That's why I always prefer the following editing references "who, what, where, when, why [how]" in the basic body of the bio. It is not feasible to always use the changes tab. Not all changes are also shown by the changes tab (such as disconnection of children).
It's not just the changes tab. You can click on "edited the biography" and see exactly what was there before.
+4 votes

For the most part the new policy is OK. However, public records are not always accurate and well-meaning people can change correct and accurate data to the inaccurate public records. To protect the data which applies to many profiles put it in a free-space page and then reference it on the profiles where applicable.

I've started making public free-space pages which refer to many profiles and using it as a source in those profiles. It protects my work and interested people can be added to the trusted list. Another plus is that details that apply to many profiles are listed only once in WikiTree and "teaser" portions with links to free-space page are posted on individual profiles. Here's an example: Frank (Gren) Grant. (Linked to free space page)  Family of Adam Gren Come to USA

answered by Pat Credit G2G6 Mach 5 (54.7k points)
edited by Pat Credit
That's a good idea!


Includes the Free spage page in the profiles


If you just would like include different parts then you can use 

  • <includeonly> text </includeonly>
    • text will just be shown on pages that includes this Free space page 
  • <noinclude> text </noinclude>
    • text will just be seen when you access the page directly


creates a link 


I normally add at the bottom of a Free space page an URL to see who use the page inside the tag <noinclude>

e.g. Special:Whatlinkshere/Space:Family_of_Adam_Gren_Come_to_USA 


I normally add: Special:Whatlinkshere...  to most of my free-space pages ... just missed that one!

I'll have to give your other suggestion some thought!

The bad thing with this include stuff is it makes writing a page more difficult the good thing its excellent for genealogy

Most things in genealogy are shared stuff and should be written once and used many

  • Documenting a house
    • applies to all people in the house
  • Documenting how emigration between Sweden and Australia in 1880
    • applies to all people doing this emigration
  • Documenting a village
    • applies to all people in the villiage
  • Documenting a grave 
    • applies to all people in the grave
  • Documenting a thing like the Starvation in Sweden 1866
    • applies to most 1 million Swedish people emigrating 
  • Good sources about a regemente 
    • applies to all people part of that regemente
You can link but its easier for the reader to have everything on one page. And a Wiki is an excellent tool to do this... 
Also, the transclusion option is not supported or recommended. Just so you know. :-)

@Julie Transclusions for genealogy: I read that it's super easy to use for changes and got inspired ;-) see G2G 

The main reason I find transclusion useful, though, is that it's super easy to make a change in one place and have it automatically propagate to the pages using it.

I couldn't agree more, but since it's not recommended, I no longer use it. ;-)
Julie, Thanks for the heads up. I won't have to spend any time trying to learn a new trick!

Julie if I look in your family tree I see that "recommendations from conservatives" has not stopped your family like emigrating to North America so follow your family traditions and do what is best for doing good genealogy ;-)

"alarming both conservative Swedes: who saw emigration as a challenge to national solidarity, and liberals, who feared the disappearance of the labor force necessary for economic development. " 

+20 votes
I have a couple of observations and a suggestion:

This decision took over a month of input on multiple threads.it did not come out of nowhere and many people expressed opinions on both sides.  I think the staff looked at all of the opinions and tried to do something that benefits the majority of the users.   

WikiTree is based on the concept of collaboration  When you lock a profile just to protect it the way you want it that stops collaboration and is not what the privacy levels were meant to be used for.  That was made clear in several postings from Chris and other members of his staff.

 If you have a specific profile with sensitive data why not contact the staff and ask for some kind of special protection for that profile.  There are some protections in place now for project protected profiles and for pre-1700 and pre-1500 profiles.  

We are talking about basically 50 years of change here not the world.  It makes sense to follow the wishes of the majority which in all of the prior threads and this one were solidly in favor of making a change.  The issues with inappropriately locked profiles go back years in the G2G threads.
answered by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (459k points)

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