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

+90 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)
Nice improvement.  Thanks.  :)
I just spent an hour editing profiles that I've longed to dig into.  They now have sources and look much prettier.  Hooray!
Thank you
The short term (presumably unintentional) consequence will be that profiles with active managers will become open, while the profiles with inactive managers will remain "public".
I have no problem with that. Only - how can I batch open all of those profiles in question?
Thank you for taking so much time and listening to all of the divergent view points before making this change.   Appreciate your letting us know and for explaining the new process.
Thank you so much.  This is going to be great.
Excellent decision! Thank you Chris/
FYI: I updated the Wikipedia article about WikiTree to reflect this new policy as it explicitly mentioned the former 200 year policy. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WikiTree#User_privacy for details.
Excellent. Thank you!

Excellent Marty

When we check the discussion page at Wikipedia about the WikiTree article. The Article is classified as Start class see link on the Wikipedia quality scale

Maybe the article should be extended?!?!

  1. Explain the new quality process with WikiTree+
    1. Checking of dates
    2. Links with other sites
    3. ????
You have to be a bit careful at WIkipedia to write in a very neutral, non-promotional tone with out weasel words. Having said that WIkiTree has made some interesting strides lately to provide tools to enhance accuracy of the global tree. Those are fair game for inclusion here. It would be better of we have independent media coverage of some of this.I'm happy making some additional changes or feel free to yourself.
Thank you! Thank you!  It appears that you put a lot of thought and work into making these decisions.  I appreciate that.  I am so glad for the move especially because I have a "cousin" on here who marks almost all profiles private, and I am constantly having to be asked to be put on a Trusted List in order to add to profiles in my own ancestral lines.
I am sorry to read that you are forcing open ''public profiles'' of persons who have been dead for over 100 years or born before 150 years. I have spent much time and effort to make most of the profiles that i have created to be as accurate and as orderly as possible, given my own limitations. I already spend too much time needlessy correcting the messes that others leave upon some of the ''open'' profiles that i manage. When a profile is ''public'', others can leave their information in the comments, or send that information to the manager, then the manager can incorporate it correctly into the text of the profile. The result of this newest change will be that a manager will be forced to spend double the time correcting all kinds of editing messes in the profiles that he manages. Did anyone think of this before making the change? I'll be sure not to edit further any of the public profiles that i manage which will be affected by the new rule, hoping thereby to keep them ''public'' rather than ''open''. Another effect of this change will be that one will think hard before creating any new profiles of persons who died over 100 years ago.
Thanks so much. This will really help.
@Albertus - interesting comment. Can you provide a link to an example of the kind of unwelcome edit you are referring to?

@Albertus: that's the beauty of a wiki - we all help create. A profile is a joint venture, not a personal possession to be controlled by one person. Your work is very good, and I doubt most people will do a lot of "damage" where you've polished up the profiles. And if they do, there's always the Restore function.

I am generally pretty happy with this decision. I have seen a number of profiles that, when I contacted the manager, were accidentally made private but should have been public. They are equally my ancestors and this enhances the "Our tree" vs "My tree" aspect I like about Wikitrees. I do know it would be difficult, but is there a way to have private notes which are only available to the manager on files? There are a few times I have wanted to add a photo etc which includes the profiled person but also includes a living person and we are not supposed to crop before uploading. It would also permit uploading things which we want to keep linked but still need to research. e.g. if I am away from home and want to add a screen dump of something I find on line and want to be sure it is the correct person. It might also allow notes to be made that affect current living people. e.g. evidence of a NPE or serious legal matters which can have consequences on the children born to those who died 100 years ago.
Of course i can no longer provide examples. I fixed those profiles as soon as i saw the damage. There were in particular two persons who follow certain surnames: they mutilated a set of profiles which i managed, and did so repeatedly. Perhaps they did not act maliciously, but due to mental or physical health problems are not able to act otherwise. I do not here wish to divulge their names. Others now and again add things to profiles without looking where they are adding, so that the proflie ends up not making sense. I have always fixed the profiles immediately. But when this new change will be implemented, the number of profiles that will need fixing will be more than double, as we have many more profiles of persons who died 100 years ago, than who died 200 years ago. Also, merges will now take place without warning. And many of  those merges involve gedcom messes. All this will take even more away from research, and the creation of new files. But, at a certain point,i suppose, one has to admit to a good thing having come to an end,  and go on to other pursuits.
I agree and have had the same problem.

>> Of course i can no longer provide examples

??!?!? we can check in the change log if you give WikiTree profile ID and when it happened. 

Lesson learned is that it's often not so bad when you start looking into an issue see G2G where it was a lot of complaining which was false alarm....


I do not care for the fact that Wiki Tree is changing the rules of the game after people have made the choice on how to manage their profiles. I like the choice of "Public" with only the trusted list able to edit the profile. This was a major reason I joined Wiki Tree and have stopped using Ancestry. I like the idea of the information being free but letting the manger have some control over who can edit the information. I am now rethinking on whether I will continue contributing

@Kim Wolf.

"I do not care for the fact that Wiki Tree is changing the rules of the game..."

It's sad when anyone leaves WikiTree and I hope you decide to stay. However, leaving aside this particular decision, I hope that WikiTree continues to evolve the rules as and when this is needed: the alternative, of a static and inflexible system, unable to change, learn and adapt, would be much worse for the site in the long term.


As per Magnus, if you provide the Profile ID then I can look at the changes log and understand what you are referring to.

It's difficult to put much weight on your argument without such evidence.
I have made corrections to the profiles in question, it was some time ago and as a result I changed some of my privacy levels from open to public.

In my experience with serious genealogists they would not consider it an incomvenience to be courteous and respect anothers work and would never presume to edit the work of another without first contacting them and discussing it.

I am not a control freak and I do not have my profiles privacy settings on public for that reason, I manage  many open profiles. I only want to avoid the problems an open profile may cause.  For example look at all the merged profiles that then have to be unmerged. It creates a lot of extra work for profile managers having to constantly check a profile to see what if any changes have been made.

It creates a lot of extra work for profile managers having to constantly check a profile to see what if any changes have been made.

Do you have found no positive side of working together with some other people inside WikiTree?!?!? 

I met for the first time last week a "cousin" and had a really fine day trying to locate a house Space:Kvistofta_Nr4 from where we had roots in the early 1840

Kvistofta Nr 4 at 
 55.958583, 12.832209 

And now we will try to find more local sources... 

I live 800 km from the place and she 10 km so she has the knowledge of the local people that is impossible for me to have....

Albertus, where do you find in the announcement that "merges will now take place without warning?"
There have been many merges on open profiles that have had to be reversed shown on my wiki feed.

I have encountered many positive sides of working with others and always contacted each other before making any changes to a profile managed by the other. To me this is simple "genealogy manners"
@Anonymous its easier if you give examples of profiles and changes

I guess for me doing genealogy in Sweden its about less than 30 active people on WIkiTree. For Aleś doing genealogy in Serbia its maybe 2 and in the USA you have 390 000 passive user and maybe 1000 active....

Its difficult to understand what happen without examples....

I have e.g. merged 5 times profiles I guess that I have created in a year....

To satisfy your curiosity, here is one such profile: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Perkins-6783 But, unless you are one of the bosses of WikiTree, and can undo the recent policy change, i do not see the point in my becoming involved in a never-ending discussion regarding this subject. Thus this will be my last comment. To put things in perspective, my paternal aunt and uncle were born in 1903 and 1905: 100 years is a short time in genealogy! When i created these and other profiles i believed that they would remain ''public'' (and not become ''open'') till after my death, and the death of those who knew them. I merely wish to express my dissapointment, and explain why i am considering not creating any new profiles. Thank you, and good luck in your own reseach.        


I agree really odd changes. I have a theory that the reason that Wikitree has +400 000 registered users but maybe just 2% active is the user interface. 

Met this weekend a +75 years old women really good on genealogy but have given up WikiTree because she dont like the user interface

The changes I found on the profile Perkins-6783 

  1. Change 19:02, 2 January 2016.
    1. Added text ==bIOGRAPHY== 
  2. Change 19:05, 2 January 2016.
    1. added  [[Category:Railroad Laborers]]

Maybe WIkitree should have better feedback to a person doing not good changes that this is not ok.....

Changing == Biography == to ==bIOGRAPHY==  feels more like vandalism


Thanks for sharing

Thank you!!! Now how to request a profile be opened that you are not a manager of, but need to correct, but current PM not cooperative?  LNAB is incorrect. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Ingram-1215   Is Ingraham.
I want all my information deleted from the site.

You did an end-run around your promises by changing the rules.  You promised that we would have certain level of privacy and control, and you changed the controls on data we entered under those rules.

What's to stop you from doing that for my recently deceased mother?  Or someone still living?  You obviously do not feel bound by existing promises.  Hopefully the complaint I filed with the state attorney general will spur some action.
I totally agree. Will they make our DNA open to any and all? I think they should have sent an e-mail to all to get feed back before they made the changes. I only heard after the fact.
Kim, Wikitree does not have your raw DNA file, so they can't possibly release it. The only change that was made was profiles was 200 years to 150 years. There have been discussion on the G2G forum about this for months and in some cases years, just look at the history on the G2G.
The data shared on Wikitree isn't generally private information to begin with. If someone has been deceased for over 100 years, their records are already public information. As with anything on the internet, you wouldn't post information that you want to be secret anyway, would you?
not true in my grandfathers case, he died less than 100 years ago and wikitree changed the privacy to open. I took out his birthdate in order to return it to the privacy level I wanted.
If that is true, why was there a private option to begin with? I have put information that I want to share with direct descendants not the general public.

No need to be snide in your comments
There may have been discussions, but only a few made the decision and changed the rules in the middle of the game
Kim, There are several levels of privacy. You can check out the levels at this link https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Privacy  Hope this explains it. If your grandfather passed away less than 100 years ago, and you can't change his privacy level any other way than to remove his dates, you should contact Aleš and have him take a look to make sure there is not a bug in the system.

Wikitree is a site that is trying to make a One World Tree by connecting everyone together. that is why we collaborate, this link maybe helpful in explaining this https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Collaboration

The more you get involved with projects, hopefully you will find this to be a very friendly and helpful group. Don't give up your passion for genealogy.

I have received more help in verifying my lines on Wikitree than any other site on the web.

I'm sorry you read my comment to be snide, it certainly wasn't meant that way. If the profile you're talking about had a birthdate of more that 150 years ago, then, yes it would be open. And again, the information is in the public records. If you add information that isn't publicly available, and don't want it to be, then I just wonder why you would put it on the internet at all. 

Thank you. My question is why is it that only the birth date is considered, and why isn't a death date less than 150 years ago also considered? My grandfathers death date is less than 100 years and was automatically changed to an open profile. I feel death dates less than 100 years should have a privacy option.

Not all of the information I have is in the public records, they are from personal diaries and letters of the individual. I do not mind sharing that information, but I do want to be able to manage who can edit that information.

>> My question is why is it that only the birth date is considered, and why isn't a death date less than 150 years ago also considered? 

Why? isnt that just playing with numbers.... one rule makes it more simple. I guess more profiles lacks a death date.....

If you say Birth date > 250 years then you get nearly the same effect.....

  • Birthdate > 150 years ago ==> 
  • Death date will in 99,99% of the cases > 50 years ago

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


Thank you Loretta for your comment, it has been the most helpful by far.

I too have made many contacts through WikiTree and have found it invaluable. I just do not like the rules being changed in the middle of the game and I am less inclined to take the time to add biographies to my profiles. I know there is an honor code and that changes are not being made maliciously, but the extra time it takes to monitor changes, verify those changes and make correcttions  takes away from the time I would spend adding more profiles.  As I enter my profiles and clean them up I usually change the privacy to "open". I prefer to call it  a management (no not control) option and not a privacy option.
Can anyone tell me why living descendants that are marked private are shown when you click on the new descenants button?
Please give example profile

Have you tried it as not being logged in?
No, but I did try it in the public view tab. Should this tab not show what the public sees?

>> Should this tab not show what the public sees?

As I am not part of the design of Wikitree its just a guess that the Public View you get is just the Public view of the profile you look at..... 

History has learned us that Wikitree is inconsistent e.g. Bush-7 dont display a wife but if you click on a child Bush-4 you can see the mother Pierce-4 that is the wife of Bush-7

For me this is a bug.... some people has tried to explain why it is like that...

Wikitree/Chris ... will you now finally "please" create a "printer friendly version" for profiles, much like wikipedia has done. I would like to be able to print off the profiles I have worked so very very hard on for my own records, and even more so now that they are open for anyone at all to come along and change at will. The technology is out there, so why haven't you done this yet for your members, many who have asked for this function multiple times? 

It's not allot to ask!

I'm just going to reply here so that if new people stop by, they don't think that Nicky's representation of how we do business is accurate.

WikiTree is a free website and will always be free. We don't sell information about people. You can read more about that here: The Free Family Tree

The change in privacy levels was instituted after lengthy discussions with the community and several iterations of the proposal. The one that was decided upon allows for easier collaboration among WikiTree members. Just to summarize: If a person's birthday is > 150 years ago, or if they died > 100 years ago, their profile is set to open and any member who has signed the Honor Code is able to edit it. These date ranges are in line with the availability of public records available online, and are even more conservative in that regard.

Because this is an open, public website, it's important not to share sensitive information about your family that you don't want to be public. I would hope that anyone who spends any time on the Internet would be cautious about what they share.

Additionally, any changes made to profiles are documented in the Change history on each profile. People make mistakes. It's inevitable. Sometimes people with less than honorable intentions will make changes, too, and the Change log helps us to recover from that. We have a process that can help you if you have difficulty working with someone here on WikiTree. We don't ever want anyone to feel that they have to deal with difficult issues alone. So, if you ever do encounter a situation where someone is making mistakes -- whether innocently or intentionally -- you can always walk through the Problems with Members process. It can also be found on the Help menu.

In regard to the Honor Code: We take it very seriously. To make it easy to access, you can get to it here: Honor Code (it's also on the Help menu)

WikiTree is a vibrant community full of people who are passionate about genealogy. They freely help each other. It's weird, isn't it? It's not often that you get something for nothing in this world, but altruism is alive and well on WikiTree. 


Well said, Julie.

Well explained, Julie! Thanks for putting it into a well-worded rebuttal. What we participate in is a Wiki, which, by definition is a website that allows for (demands!) collaboration. It is not a personal storage area, and is designed for all to use & edit. I think some users see it as their own personal site, and the profiles are their personal possessions, instead of biographies of our shared ancestors. If they don't want others to edit, then they should have their own personal site. I do think it's pertinent to remind users that the basic data & information is publicly available anyway, and that changes to the guidelines were made with Wikitree-user input from the start. 

Actually, what this change has done is encourage and pave the way for less collaboration.

I personally signed up because I loved the way wikitree was and what it promised me it would continue to be. Absolutely that included the parameters in place. Those privacy levels gave me confidence in the tree and that my contributions to it, given the acuracy of my work versus what I found all over the internet with regards to many of my ancestors, would be safe. I saw this as the perfect place to get the truth out there, backed up with sources, and for anyone in the world to find. And so I spent many many moons making contributions because I believed what I was told was the way of it. 

Apart from passionate discussions here in g2g which not everyone who participates in wikitree participated in, there was no email to members about this major change, no oportunity given for all who have contributed and contribute to vote on this change. It was just made - like it or lump it! 

And as for the future of all the information on wikitree, who will end up owning it, here's an interesting thread https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/391715/new-to-the-site-a-small-concern-about-ownership?show=391715#q391715 ~ food for thought. 

As with many things that start out well and as a result get big and successful, this site/dream too has the potential for corruption. So I make no apology for wanting management of the profiles of my great great grandparents, and to be able to oversee changes made on them - why should I feel like I'm being non collaborative just because I feel that way!? I have been far from non-collaborative, a wikitree term bandied about more and more as some kind of badge of shame. And if I wanted to "own" profiles I would never have joined this site! 

With the current rules my great grandfather's profile will be opened in less than three years as he was a victim of the Spanish Flu. Was this man your great grandfather too? Did you know his wife, my great grandmother, as intimately as I did? Why should I be made to feel like a selfish control freak simply because I don't want the oportunity to exist that his profile may be randomly edited during my and/or my mother's (his granddaughter) lifetimes? A death 100 years ago therefore deeming a profile must be fully open is extremely disrespectful to the living as well as to those passed.

The truth is, this change is NOT what we signed up for, simple. We signed up believing that when it came to our ancestors of the last 200 years we could allocate the settings we were comfortable with in order that we were comfortable creating profiles for them in the first place. I found that respectful and moral. This change is neither, and the way it has been implimented is neither. 

Sure there are many who disagree, who would like to write my views off as non-collaborative, or wanting ownership, whatever they need to tell themselves is not my problem. 

Frankly, I feel railroaded with this change, and I am far from alone in that. Like or not, doesn't change the fact.

I will stay at wikitree and I'll be monitoring the profiles I manage. Afterall I have put one hell of allot of time and energy and goodwill into all I have given to the tree to walk away. But that will be where my participation begins and ends henceforth. 

So, if this is how you want even some of your members to feel ... carry on making big changes like this without across the board consultation. If not, I suggest in future, out of respect for all who have contributed to this site and it's success, you put your proposals to everybody. There is no excuse not to with todays technology, unless at the end of the day you simply don't care. 

The ball in in your court wikitree. 





Nicky Blacklock just FYI I gave up researching your Swedish roots because the profiles were too protected....


That's all you can do, Magnus.

I, for one, am very happy that I was so "disrespectful" to my grandparents that I set their profiles as Open.  Another member found their marriage record, which I had never been able to find.  I do hope the grandparents will forgive me. ;-)

And, do you know what?  None of my ancestors' profiles have been vandalized in any way, shape or form.  (If they ever are, there's that handy "restore" function!) The "worst" that's happened is that duplicate profiles have been created.  Which, by the way,  would not have been prevented by locking them up.

Magnus, my privacy settings were within the boundaries I agreed to and felt comfortable with when joining wikitree, so if you felt I deserved to be denied your help/collaboration as a result of them all I can say about that is that I find it interesting. Your past collaboration with me was fun, extremely appreciated, acknowledged by way of many thank yous, and as well, publicly here in g2g. https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/261391/shout-wikitree-need-more-colours-generous-genealogist-badge?show=261391#q261391 

I must say though that at times I found it really hard to follow and keep up with changes you were making without communication, and that I did feel allot of pressure from you to do things I did not even understand what you were talking about. Once or twice those expectations actually had me in tears.

Thank you for your past generosity with regards to the genealogy of the thousands of descendants of those old Swedish folk. I envisage many will get allot of joy when they stumble across these ancestors profiles in the future.  



I'm driven to make a point about the statement Apart from passionate discussions here in g2g which not everyone who participates in wikitree participated in, there was no email to members about this major change, no oportunity given for all who have contributed and contribute to vote on this change.

We receive daily emails entitled "Wiki Genealogy Feed". Those contained all the activity and discussion on this subject. If you chose not to participate, that was your choice. 

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.

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

Let's all move on and continue to make WikiTree the Very Best It Can Be.
I just presented WikiTree to 30+ member of a local genealogy group (CAGGNI) here in Chicago area yesterday. Many questions on privacy came up. We discussed the multiple privacy settings and I was left with the reminder by the group that most other genealogical systems/sites/programs/export tools tend to have a very binary view of privacy: living or not living - that's it. WikiTree seems to allow much more nuanced options for managing privacy that allow much more privacy if desired.

The second observation I was left with the intersection of privacy concerns and collaboration efforts. As soon as the discussion wanders into comments on G2G about changing "my" relatives, these are often (but not always) are followed by non-collaboration arguments, not privacy arguments. I have tried to never use privacy as a way to prevent collaboration.

I am reminded of the first two words of the Honor Code:"We Collaborate". They could easily be followed "Collaboration can be hard ...sometimes'' .I've had a few instances where a member has mad bone-headed but well-intended changes. I also found myself using a fake genealogy source - by mistake. I follow the Stop, Drop, and Roll Guidelines and things have always turned out ok here for me.

>> I must say though that at times I found it really hard to follow and keep up with changes you were making without communication, and that I did feel allot of pressure from you to do things I did not even understand what you were talking about. Once or twice those expectations actually had me in tears.

Sorry Nicky Blacklock but why is it so important to have control over material in a Wiki..... yes you are blood related but genealogy is difficult and it takes time to learn.

Finding local sources and not spending time in Sweden I guess its nearly impossible and even more difficult when you can't understand the language... to do some good research...

I am getting more and more convinced that a Wiki for genealogy is best when people can get help from local experts.   

I spent time in the archives of Serbia to research Petrović-44 and even when I had the documents in my hand I need people to translate them see video 

Birth record
Petrović-44 that is impossible for me to understand without help

If you would like to have control a Wiki is not the best place....

  • A Wiki is for collaboration
  • What is most important get more knowledge or control?
    • Good example what I did for you was 
      • I asked in Anbytarforum if someone had more clues about emigration
        • Answer was an article in a paper I also had published articles in that I translated to you
        • I contacted the author
        • Last week I was down in this part of Sweden and passed by Slättelynga the birth place of Andersson-3101 and could have taken some more minutes and stopped by and done a small movie.... or spoke with local people...

​​Compare the research done for other people with Swedish roots I feel we could have added much more sources to "your" Swedish roots ...

  • for Julie and her Swedish Roots
    • We found an absent Swedish father and got a picture from what is believed to be him
  • for Joe Cochoit
    • Eva connected him and her as 10th cousins
      • Eva is doing research in books older than the church books which I cant read and follow and think this is WikiTree when it as best... I would like see more people like Eva on WikiTree who can learn me more...

        Example of document from 1678 used in the research
    • I spent some hours with Joe's profile Elg-19 Catharina Elg (1798 - 1875)
      to show him the possibilities with Swedish Genealogy and in some hours we had 30+ sources just from Swedish Church books  

And then I feel the key questions are?

  1. Is the person who is blood related the person that always should own a profile? 
    1. And beeing the person doing the Genealogy Research plans?
  2. What is most important that we learn more or have control?
  3. Do we trust other people or not?   
  4. Should WikiTree change structure so someone like me who feel I can add value can add that value on a special Research tab and the person who wants "owning" the profile could add parts they feel confident with... compare Wikipedia Talk tab 
I agree with Magnus that collaborating with people who are native to the areas our ancestors lived in is far superior to doing research even by yourself in those areas.   I have Scottish, French, German and Swiss ancestry.   Scotland has a lot of English language records but what I lack is a native understanding of locations and culture and there are nuances that can make a huge difference in genealogical research.  I read French and Latin but I still find collaborating with my relatives who live in the area is invaluable to working through the multiple people from the same families who have the same names where you have many cousins being named for the same grandparent or great grandparent.  I welcome collaboration and have worked with large groups all over the world with many of my lines and it is a very rewarding experience.  Locking down a profile does not protect it as much as it stops someone who lives in a different time zone from making updates that make the profiles more complete.  If we have a disagreement that is not a big deal in WikiTree like it is in some other sites.  Besides generally the disagreements should be cited because generally they are based on unresolved conflicts coming from primary data sources.
Why is there so much issue with this change? When I signed up 2 years ago, I did so because it was collaborative and it was free. My understanding then was that Privacy protocols could change with community expectations and legislation changed. Living people are still protected. Yes I have had profiles "Vandalized": extra references have been added, spelling errors corrected, tweaks to the format so it reads better. How terrible! I truly appreciate the ability to add details, comments and referenced data which you simply don't get on other sites where so much BS is published. If someone really did a major muck up, it is reversible - no drama.
I would be interested to know if the "Vandalism" is sourced facts which are unwelcome, details impossible given your sourced data or genuine errors because your person profiles have a list of "facts" with no referencing to back it up? From what I can see of other sites, those keeping the tightest rein on their data are those who are creating their ideal family trees without interference from fact. They hate finding out about the NPE's and desperately want their relative to be the titled person of the same name, sometimes even though they come from a different country.

Might I suggest that a way to clear up some of the allegations of vandalism would be to make the "Reasons for change" comment compulsory. I have been guilty of hitting the save button before entering this detail but usually on profiles I am admin over. Making it compulsory could improve the habits for all of us.
For those who have issues with other people accessing and amending records for those dead over 100 years; collaborative means multiple people accessing and amending. I have helped work on "Unsourced profile" projects and it is a total pain in the butt to find some good juicy sources and THEN find that the profiles were added under Yellow lock or higher and that the administrator has ignored them ever since. I have added the data to messages to the person's admin but they seldom bother to update it. Mostly any response is "Whoops, I didn't realise I left it locked. It is now open, do what you want".
In short, the change has been made in consultation and the majority of members seem happy and to feel it is am improvement. This is a collaborative site and our ancestors usually have other descendants, not just you. Once dead, their data belongs to ALL of their descendants. If you want to keep things locked for an extra 50 years, are YOU going to still be administering the profile?? One thing which becomes very obvious to family historians is that people die (young and old) and IF your turn is next, those collaborative profiles you have locked tight can become very difficult to get opened for the next keeper of your family data. By being over protective, you may be killing the zeal of the next generation, your great niece from another country or 2nd cousin you didn't know about, may be desperate to honour YOUR work by continuing it and you are shutting them out and closing their access down - and guess what? they will "OWN" you and your data just as much as you "OWN" the profiles of your great aunt etc.

Magnus, regarding your response to Nicky:

Sorry Nicky Blacklock but why is it so important to have control over material in a Wiki..... yes you are blood related but genealogy is difficult and it takes time to learn. 

Nicky is not concerned with control of profiles, but with the integrity of the profiles. Like Nicky, I feel we have opened too many profiles to potential editing battles. With public profiles, collaboration is required to some extent: expecting - even demanding - requests for trusted list access is our front in keeping battles to a minimum.

With open profiles, any WikiTree member can edit at will AND without collaboration, including re-editing after a profile manager reverses an unwelcome edit. In essence, all open profiles are potential targets for wanton and completely unnecessary and avoidable vandalism.

Just because WikiTree is a wiki-type website is no reason it has to operate just like every other wiki site. I, for one, was led to believe that WikiTree has set higher standards and has the guts to work to maintain them!

@Lindy please read this comment I had problem helping....

Its the other way around with too much control you don't use the skills of the WikiTree community in a good way... is my experience ==> the end result will suffer...

less controlled profiles ==> we will learn more from each other


When I joined WikiTree (January 2016), my understanding was that profile managers had the flexibility to choose tighter privacy levels for their closer relatives. To me, my closer relatives are the 4 ancestral levels (and their descendants) I see when I click the Family Tree & Tools tab on my profile. Although I had no expectations regarding any changes to the privacy policy, I fully understood that eventually those profiles would be opened. I felt that the 200-year buffer was well balanced to provide the privacy I preferred for now, while allowing these profiles to be opened as their profiled individuals  approached 200 years since birth.

Yes, we can remove any incorrect  information that is unintentionally added, as well as repair deliberate vandalism that occurs; we can even block repeat offenders. But why do we go out of our way to encourage bad data, rather that discourage it? The flexible use of privacy levels should be used to discourage editing profiles without first contacting the profile manager.

Collaboration means "working together." My view is that collaborating the WikiTree way also requires REAL communication. For open profiles that others manage, we should at least leave the reason for change, as you suggest. But for public and above profiles, either request trusted-list access, leave a public comment, or send a private message - and expect to wait, at least a bit. Don't presume that your time is more important than the other manager's time; don't expect the other manager to drop his/her work to answer immediately; and don't always expect a positive response. If the other manager is not open to collaboration on that particular profile, if no response is received in after a reasonable wait period, or if the profile manager hasn't been active for a reasonable period of time; then follow WikiTree procedures by submitting the UPM/Unresponsive Profile Manager form.

If you are working on a profile that another member manages, your first step should be to look at that profile and at the manager's profile! Then you will know if the profile is locked and can determine if the manager is active BEFORE you spend your looking for sources. The added benefit is if you contact the manager ahead of sourcing, you will have a better idea where you stand; for example, you can better gauge the manager's willingness to collaborate on this profile and on other profiles; conversely, you may decide that this profile can just wait. That's how I do it; sure saves me a lot of time and aggravation! We should all be willing to walk away sometimes, rather than push our own wills on others.

The changes were made (for the most part, in my opinion) after a series of lively G2G debates in March. I doubt that more than 200-300 (probably a gross overestimate!) members voiced an opinion.

WikiTree already has a couple of preferred methods for opening locked profiles: the first is communication between and among profile managers who respect each other's time and efforts; the second is the UPM request form. If I am no longer around to manage the profiles on my watchlist, feel free to submit UPMs for them!

Magnus, regarding your reply to my comment:

@Lindy please read this comment I had problem helping....

Its the other way around with too much control you don't use the skills of the WikiTree community in a good way... is my experience ==> the end result will suffer...

less controlled profiles ==> we will learn more from each other


Couldn't you just send a private message with the information and links; or post a public comment? Those are also good methods of collaboration Unfortunately, now it's the non-manager collaborator who wants to control the profile.

I disagree that less control = we learn more. To me, it's about a balance between control and privacy. We should respect the judgment of our fellow managers and defer to them for the profiles they manage.

I say more collaboration + better communication + balanced control/privacy + respect = better profiles!

Lindy,  I think you are assuming some things...

1.  That these other managers are active and care about these opened profiles.  I bet you that over 75% or more are not...  Why?  Because I have seen this over and over again in working the error reports.  I think managers like you are unfortunately in the minority.  And that the majority situation was affecting WikiTree in very negative ways including a lot of inaccuracies we could not get into to fix.  Some of which make WikiTree look very bad because they are glaring mistakes on famous people like Henry the VIII having 7 wives instead of 6.  

2.  That people are not going to contact you just because a profile is open.  Even if it is open I try to contact a PM of record if there is one.  I bet a lot of these profiles were orphaned.  And I bet most folks are still going to follow the guidelines of contacting a PM of record.  Why because we want to collaborate not take over profiles.  

I believe some statistics were run to look at these issues before any decisions were made.  The voting was overwhelmingly in favor of opening these profiles.  There were a few people who objected but the majority of even active managers voted to open them.  

Personally I would rather be able to work on profiles that have been orphaned or have unresponsive profile managers than have them caught in a bottleneck to get them opened.  Also, the privacy levels I think were misunderstood by some who used them as a point of control rather than reading how they were supposed to be used.  This is the current write up for the privacy levels  https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Privacy   There are still a lot of options here for protecting the information of living people and a generation or 2 above us.  

I understand that change is hard and sometimes we don't like the change for our own reasons.  But in a community rules have to work for the majority of the people and when they don't they need to be reviewed (which this was for years and in many many threads) and then studied and evaluated (which this was again in a very public G2G thread  https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/360442/privacy-controls-allowed-profiles-people-without-connection?show=360442#q360442 and thread https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/365669/should-all-profiles-people-born-150-died-100-years-ago-be-open   and thread  https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/357224/should-we-eliminate-the-public-privacy-level)  Ample time and consideration were given to let everyone air their views.  No one was cut out of the process as all of these threads were included in weekly feeds.  

I think this is time to move on to working with the new situation and not keep rehashing what has been debated and voted on more than once with the majority of users voting for the change.
No, Laura, I never assume!

1. I always check the manager's activity level before I attempting collaboration. And, as you suggest, the problem that led to the privacy changes was partly caused the large number of locked profiles that had either inattentive/uncooperative or long-term absentee managers. But the other part (in my opinion) was the (seemingly) increasing number of complaints by one-way collaborators, those managers who felt they shouldn't have to follow the established UPM policies. Dumbing down our privacy levels does not address that problem. Even glaring mistakes are fixable within the UPM and other policies.

2. Again, not assuming, just being realistic. If the other manager wouldn't contact me while the profile was locked, why would he/she contact me after it's been opened?

True, the voting, by those (few, compared to total WikiTree membership; even of active membership) of us who participated in the debates, was in favor of opening more profiles. But no real consensus (again, my opinion) was reached on which method to use.

The potential bottleneck was probably the deciding factor (I am so opinionated!), since we only have 1 member dedicated to opening profiles. I don't see the current policy guidelines as any easier to understand than the previous guidelines; in fact, I feel that adding the 100-year-since-death rule has made them more complicated, not less.

Change happens constantly, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse; personally, I just go with the flow (but I did enjoy debating against the crowd and getting some otherwise unheard/misunderstood voices heard and their concerns clarified!). However, I don't feel that the majority of membership did have knowledge of the debates. I'm not sure the G2G posts are included in one's weekly feeds if one is not following the related tabs (please correct me if I am in error here).

I am just commenting on other members lingering concerns that have been posted. Just because the issue has been addressed by "majority rule" changes, doesn't mean it is, or has to be, settled. We still have an equal right to voice our opinions and concerns on this and any other WikiTree matter.
I see threads on the weekly feed that are not items I have posted on or have tags I am following...  Not sure how what is in those feeds is selected but if you go back and look at the shear number of threads that touched on the same issue for many years... it was obvious this was something that had been plaguing WikiTree for a long time.  

If a manager is active but does not participate in G2G or subscribe to the feeds, then that person has made a personal choice not to be informed.

Once again silence is a vote of either tacit approval or I really don't care.

Since the policy has been instituted I have not seen a rash of posting from people who did not post in the original discussions decrying the decision.

@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.
I was no that concerned about his until someone with an ancestry account went in and edited everyone in my tree changing my years of research on original census records (available thru Gov of Canada data collections) with the terribly erroneous transcripts at Ancestry and changed the url links to inaccessible ancestry data.  Not only that but they changed the biographies I had taken time to write adding their own comments about religion etc.  I am so upset I will be removing all of my records from wikitree and finding a more suitable location where collaboration comes with respect.
I understand how you feel. It is very frustrating when that happens, especially when it is a "data doctor" that knows nothing about that person.  I have stopped doing at length biographies for that reason and only attach url links to free websites. What I have found so helpful even with the minimum of information I am entering, is the contacts I have received. I was then able to then collaborate with them through personal e-mail. I have received invaluable information and copies of pictures and documents I might otherwise not have had access to.

Something to think about

someone with an ancestry account went in and edited everyone in my tree changing my years of research on original census records (available thru Gov of Canada data collections) with the terribly erroneous transcripts at Ancestry and changed the url links to inaccessible ancestry data.  Not only that but they changed the biographies I had taken time to write adding their own comments about religion etc.  I am so upset I will be removing all of my records from wikitree and finding a more suitable location where collaboration comes with resp.ect.


If you have a problem with another member, you can request a Mentor (something I would advise).

If someone has made bad changes to profiles, you can change it back.  Please don't "pack up and leave" because of one or two people.  First see if things can be worked out.  The majority of Wikitreers are "good folks".

Opening up profiles may be ''wonderful news'' to those who like to play with profiles created by others, but it is not such good news for those of us who create and manage many profiles. Since so many of the profiles that i have created and manage have been opened, instead of leaving information or links in the Comments section, people take it upon themselves to rewrite or reformat the biography, which i always take time to write properly, to change correct information to incorrect information, and to add ''sources'' and links at various places in the profile where they donot belong. As a result i spend much time montoring the profiles, correcting them, trying to place the newly added information (if useful) in the proper place, and in extreme cases undoing the whole set of changes by going back to how the profile looked before the changes. Sometimes i just keep the formatting changes out of tiredness, but errors and misplaced comments and sources i always adjust. Cleaning up needless messes is time wasted. Before totally rewriting or reformatting an already correctly-written biography permission should be asked of the manager. New information should be placed in the comment section, unless the person doing it actually knows how to format sources and where to place them!

G Dalton, I took a hard look at your ancestry profiles to see what had happened, and I really believe you have overreacted.  Whereas you said someone "edited everyone in my tree", almost all of the profiles you manage have never been touched by anyone but you.  I found a few with small corrections (fixing refs and missing headings), but it was awhile before I found any damage.  What troubles me though is the damaged ones were damaged by you, intentionally, not at all consistent with the Honor Code.  Profiles that you manage you are responsible for, to protect from damage.  You have been changing names to single letters, removing your photos, removing or replacing relationships, and in at least one case deleting the bio.

I found the one record that had Ancestry info added, but while there are Ancestry derived sources, there are no Ancestry links.  His links worked and were very readable versions of yours.  You replaced them with your pictures of the Canadian originals, which is fine, both would be better though as his are much more readable.  But more importantly, he did NOT replace your sources, as that record had NO sources before he added some.  Check the Change list for yourself to see.  And as to comments about religion, this record appeared to have the only religion-related terms - he had added extracted info from a source including the comment about the family being "all Catholic Irish Canadians" hardly a comment about religion.  Two of the sources mention they are from both Ancestry and the Mormon Church (its long name which includes the words Jesus Christ) but that's the name of an organization not a comment about religion.

The few changes I saw by others all looked very helpful, very collaborative, nothing at all wrong.  Please stop damaging profiles.  As you know, they are not yours, they belong to all of us, especially the other descendants of those profiles.


The highlighted names are not profiles of mine.  I have been very busy updating profiles mainly those related to the Mayflower.  I have updated some of the original profiles that I did, which were done before I understood how to properly set up a profile.  I just learned how to delete a photo and only removed one from a profile.

I admit in some cases of the Nickerson's where within the same generation there may be four of five men named George so I have opted to add the middle so it reads i.e. George Whitman Nickerson to prevent confusion.  I am not putting up one Initial names.  I am working hard to make my profiles read with more clarity and have as many sources as I can locate.

I apologize for causing such an up roar...I am simply trying to perfect my genealogy skills.


Thanks for the pat on the back! That individual was not my mentor.. I have a wonderful mentor.  I have only been doing this for three years and it takes at least that long to begin to figure out what you are really doing!

I would never pack it up and leave!  My skin it very thick...and I can take a lot!  It is nice to meet you Paul.

Taylor, you have nothing to apologize for, as I was responding to someone else, someone who was deliberately damaging profiles (listed above).  I can't find what you may have posted here, so I don't know why you thought I was reprimanding you - I certainly wasn't!  I'm really sorry if you were upset by this.

I'm sure you're doing a great job, and like me, learning every day how to do it better!  We all have to start somewhere, then later we go back and improve our first efforts.

Sometimes I struggle with trying to change the profile to open.  I know how to do it, but sometimes it just doesn't seem to want to take the change.


13 Answers

+29 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 (373k 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.
+30 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 (188k points)
+22 votes
This is wonderful news! Thank you so much!
answered by J Steinbach G2G6 Mach 3 (33.7k points)
+20 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 (15.7k points)
+10 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 (53k 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 (142k 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 8 (88.2k 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 (534k 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.

+8 votes
answered by Eunice Pender G2G5 (5.2k 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 (33.7k 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 6 (62.1k 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 (505k points)
+5 votes

I have found many wonderful people with whom to collaborate on Wikitree and even the one that got heated resolved itself with time. I am happy to see this change, as I've had some ancestors whose profiles were just GEDcoms dropped and left with no other sources; I wanted to add to them but was prevented because they were locked far after the required years. Sending a request to the PMs got no response whatsoever, even posting onto the actual profile didn't help. I started a folder just for the correspondence I've sent to PMs so I could follow up. 

The main thing to help those who are in a dither about this change is to look at your watchlist. The feed is sent once a week, but that doesn't preclude you from looking at it every day if you're so concerned.

Re. appropriate sources: I was told by one member that "Ancestry" and "My Heritage" were perfectly acceptable sources even if they weren't primary sources. WHAT???? I have also discovered that there are many bad entries on Familysearch that make their way here. Yesterday, I had to correct an entire generation (on FS) that was skipped because the name of father and son were the same. That is not how I'd choose to spend my genealogy time! However, that is the reason I often use Ancestry information, spelled out, and with the appropriate links. If, for instance it's a particular census where the name is spelled differently, even if you put that in, you will not find it on FS. There are also some "sketchy" sources on Ancestry -something I didn't  know until I started working here and someone told me. 

Bottom line is, I am grateful for the change and here's an Idea: If you are terribly concerned like Albertus or some of the others who commented above, Put a LARGE bold notice before the biography -maybe make it an official category? That  states PLEASE contact the profile manager before adding or making any changes to this profile.

It's not that difficult, and I am very grateful that I've found new family members, and become close to some whose names were all I knew previously. Not to mention the wonderful things I've learned from others and the friendliness I've had communicating and collaborating with them. I am grateful for Wikitree, and I thank all of you who make this a great place to create and collaborate.

answered by Lisa Linn G2G6 Mach 2 (26.5k points)

Nice post, Lisa, I agree with all of it, and I especially like your Idea.

I've run across quite a few collections of sources, and I've found they ALL have good info, and they ALL have bad info, so you have to check and try to verify everything.  You can't say a source is from A so it's good, or it's from B so it's bad.  You can find good info in the worst places sometimes, although you will always want corroborating info for it.  Sometimes questionable info is all you have (comment accordingly), you use it until you find better.

About allowing others to modify your precious work - it's a public wiki and this debate has been going on since the beginning of wikis.  Almost always, there are multiple people monitoring for bad changes, and it almost always works out in the end for the best.  You do have to be able to relinquish control, and let your children go free into the world, hoping the essential quality of your work will be preserved, even if a mixed crowd tries to 'improve' it.  And sometimes we have to recognize it's just our ego involved, thinking nobody could improve what we did.  Almost always, the best result comes from multiple talents and sources, working together.

Related questions

+5 votes
2 answers
+62 votes
16 answers
+7 votes
1 answer
+50 votes
7 answers
+5 votes
1 answer
+16 votes
3 answers

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright