Are your profiles Genealogically Defined?

+57 votes

Robert Charles Anderson, FASG, Director of the Great Migration Study Project and author of Elements of Genealogical Analysis says a person is Genealogically Defined when "we have at least one piece of evidence that will lead to the identification of his or her parents, one piece of evidence for each spouse(s), and one piece of evidence for each child."

So, examine your profiles.  Can you check off these as complete?

Put another way.

1. Do you have a source that will identify the PARENTS?

2. Do you have a source for each SPOUSE?

3. Do you have a source for each CHILD?

If so, your profile is Genealogically Defined and has a great start on sourcing.

Notice that each of these sources is reciprocal with the person it connects. You can then put that same source on the connected person's profile and begin the process again.

If every profile had this minimum standard, they become like puzzle pieces and can be linked to other profiles.  Greatly enhancing the usefulness of WikiTree.

Now imagine if every profile on WikiTree had this minimal standard.

Do yours?


in The Tree House by Michael Stills G2G6 Pilot (390k points)
edited by Michael Stills
Mine? No, they do not, but I now have a tool for quick evaluation on what I need to work on.
An remember, we need USEFUL sources.

Start here to learn about sources.
This is fine but what about persons who never married or had children -- apparently they will never be "genealogically defined."
How do you know they never married or had children?  

If you have done a reasonbly exhastive search and can demonstrate with sources that they had no children and no spouse, then you have met the requirment and thus they are "defined."

By the way, I believe Robert Charles Anderson refers to these folks as not being genealogically significant or of no genealogical consequence.
I try to add sources to all my profiles, but had not thought about using the same source to prove the link between family members. I will certainly try to do this in the future.
But, Walter, all people have parents. That should qualify them as being genealogical defined.  And the extended family will further connect them.

14 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer
First of all, thanks to Michael for beginning an extremely useful discussion. Having sources to identify the parents, spouses, and children and their relationships is at once the gold standard and the minimum expectation for good genealogy.  

The discussion has quickly moved to "How do we know we're there?" -- which really has two components -- "How does a reader know"? and "How does a computer know"?  Unfortunately, these are two very different questions.

A major reason I prefer WikiTree as a site is that WikiTree has narrative biographies where other sites have "notes".   What I want to see on a profile is a narrative biography with inline sources that has enough information about a person that I can get some small understanding of who that person was and what they did as well as what their family looked like.  When there is some dispute or controversy, I want the source to contain enough information that I can evaluate its value or reliability compared to some other source.  I think the very things that I value most are the things that are most difficult for a computer to evaluate.  

Because basically the computer is looking for similarities.  If it is programmed to look for xxx and if I have entered xxx twice and xxy once, the computer will respond that I have been correct two times and incorrect once.  This is an extremely valuable ability, and the whole database errors effort is based upon it.  An enormous number of profiles currently have things missing which ought to be there, and the DB errors project lets us know.   The DB errors project can even spot errors in my beloved narratives;  I prefer sub-paragraphs, and DB errors, without evaluating the content of my writing, can spot where I mismatched a heading with ==Before and ===After.  

What troubles me somewhat about this discussion is the thought that we should curtail the styles of narratives and sources in order to make things easier for a computer to spot what is correct or not correct.   A well-written, documented narrative on a profile linked to other profiles is what makes WikiTree stand out from other sites with (1) narratives but no organized system of links, like Wikipedia, and other sites with (2) organized systems of linked names like Geni or My Heritage, where the absence of sources or documentation makes them almost entirely useless from a quality perspective.  We need to expand upon WikiTree's unique features, not diminish them!

We may want to focus some of our quality efforts on a subset of profiles, such as pre-1500.  The Magna Carta project set a standard for well-researched profiles which didn't qualify for a badge until they had been reviewed by a second person.  It would be possible, I'm sure, to add a place for three checkmarks in the Edit frame where a human being could check off whether there are sources for parents, spouses, and children.  If you wanted this checked only by a reviewer, the computer could be programmed that the check marks must be added by someone who had not previously made any changes to the profile.   This could make sense for pre-1500 profiles which have many people working on them -- and for which sourcing is crucially important, but most of us cannot find or credibly interpret the original Latin-language sources.  In theory it would make as much sense for the profile of my grandfather who was born in 1872, but in practice on WikiTree we have much more resistance to inline sourcing for more recent profiles -- witness the G2G conversation where it was proposed that the computer simply check for the presence of a </ref>, the ending of any inline source!
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (325k points)
selected by Michael Stills
Jack, thanks for the vote of confidence.  My hope was to raise awareness of sourcing our profiles and the concept of Genealogically Defined was fairly easy to grasp.  I am amazed how fast it grabbed folks.  

I would caution that we still need a discussion on what is a source.  Robert Anderson accually uses the word evidence and thus when we say source, we are shorthanding the conversation with the assumption that everyone knows what a source is.  Evidence might be a better term in this case.

I am not ready to jump to a fixed system for tracking this yet but your ideas however are closest to what I have been mulling.

The trouble, I think, with a lot of these tech solutions is finding the right balance between a Wiki and a fixed genealogy site and between encouraging new folks to join and grow and following a ridgid genealogical process.
I really like the idea of using the term "evidence"; it's so precise!
Michael, a "source" is simply where we got the information.  That in itself is important, but it begs the much more difficult question of "how good is the source."  <ref> Jack Day's memory </ref> is a good source in Jack Day's own biographical narrative but a terrible source for Charlemagne.  <ref> Cynthia Smith's Family Cookbook </ref> sounds like a terrible source until we actually look at it and discover she's interspersed recipes with solidly documented genealogical narratives of the people who provided them.  <ref> 1920 Census </ref> sounds like a good source, but for John Smith the calculated date of birth is 5 years different than the preceding 3 censuses.  At that point you read about censuses and how often a census taker sitting around the table in a log cabin heard things wrong and wrote them wrong!   So a source is a source, it tells you nothing about quality, but the more you know about a particular source, the more you know how useful or reliable it is.  

There are numerous profiles on WikiTree sourced with <ref> S274653 Gedcom Garbage </ref>  That tells you that the person who uploaded the profile depended on a collection of facts and non-facts put together by one or more outfits whose primary objective was making money and who didn't care about the quality of their work, and that the person who uploaded it hasn't had the time to improve it.  You don't know much about how reliable the facts are, although sometimes buried in the extra letters there is a reference to an actual book and page number.  It does gives you some hints for further research.  John Taylor, born Ipswitch 1619? Google it and maybe you'll find something better.  

It's when you work on profiles in a particular place and time that you learn what good sources are.  I'm working on some medieval profiles right now and for every one I'm getting what information I can from Charles Cawley's Medieval Lands Database, from Douglas Richardson's Royal Ancestry, and from Stewart Baldwin's Henry Project.  I didn't know about any of these until people who had been there before pointed them out to me.  These are the best secondary sources available for the people they cover, but they too make errors, so you still have to use your brain.

In the end, no matter how good a source is, nothing can replace the human brain!.
+22 votes
Excellent starting point for more in depth sourcing.  Thank you so much for providing a clear and concise way to think about sourcing.
by Kathy Zipperer G2G6 Pilot (264k points)
+10 votes
Maybe time to change WikiTree so a check like that can easily be done by Project database Error?

source=United States Census, 1940, database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 May 2017), William H Smith, Clayton, Representative District 1, Kent, Delaware, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 1-1, sheet 4A, line 5, family 62, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 544.}}
by C S G2G6 Pilot (272k points)
edited by C S

I started testing a new concept this week and that is to check if all periods and events that could be found in the church book also has been found in the church books.

Genealogical Proof Standard step Reasonably Exhaustive Search


  1. See Swedish profile 
    1. Elg-19#Checking_gaps_in_church_records ==> 30 records found
    2. Wetterskog-2#Swedish_Record_Survey ==> 18 records found
    3. Svensson-2859#Checking_gaps_in_church_books
Magnus, is that a valid, working template? Bob
+7 votes
I haven't seen that criteria before but it makes some sense.  I have been starting to add children to the parent's profiles, but it could be done with as few as two sources (or even one in some cases). Censuses are the obvious choice (from 1850 to 1940 in the US).  Wills or military pensions may also be helpful.  I think I'll give it a try for a few families and see how it works.  Thanks.
by Dave Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (405k points)
Isnt it better to have a positive template telling this profile has met the GD criteria?!?!? And have a counter on the user profile telling this person is profile manager for 457 GD verified templates...

Using template arguments telling what sources used would be great....
YES! A template could list all source data and the type of source. As more sources are added it could increase the sources and types. Positive, YES. Enough of the negative! People could track their own progress. It would increase awareness of types of sources. The type would have to be carefully thought out. Vital statistics, Find A Grave, family genealogy book or website, Ancestry, family records, each could be listed for each bit of data: birth, death, marriage. It could even have a way of marking agreement or disagreement between sources.
If you had Ancestry as a type you could see those profiles that were only Ancestry. Many regard these as unsourced. This would be a nonjudgemental way of tracking these profiles. The template would indicate that the data is only supported by Ancestry.

My wish but I dont think it will be possible inside WikiTree is

  1. All sources are added using templates
  2. For Swedish church records you also tell
    1. Type of book: e.g. birth record, household record, death record, estate and inventory....
    2. Date from
    3. Date to

Doing this we could create reports and see if a researched profile had gaps e.g. Elg-19#Sources lack

  • Missing moving out record 1819
  • Missing Household record 1840-1851
  • Missing Estate and inventory


If birth for instance has two or three values each could have a source or sources. Birth: May 3, 1778. Vital statistics, 1779 Find A Grave, 1780 Ancestry, 1781 Ancestry, Feb 2, 1742-3 Arnold book.
Maybe the Error report could recognize that birth data is sourced and not consistent. No report generated!
Listing types of records would even be helpful for people to suggest what to look for.


No sorry you need to add structure.... using a template and telling this source is evidence for this activity.....

Aleš had once an idea for an activity template that would make WikiTree a much better place for doing genealogy see G2G 2016 sep 1

Then we could start generate

  • Timelines  Wikitree people on WIkipedia who has died during 2017
Regarding creating a category for "genealogically defined":  you CAN create a category for anything, but you SHOULD only create categories that group people in a way that is helpful to genealogy.  

A category designation on a profile is a link to a site where those profiles are grouped.  A category does its job well when the primary benefit of having the category on the page is that it makes you want to click on the link and see what other profiles are in the group.  If the primary benefit is simply seeing the information on a profile, then you really don't want a category, you want something else on the profile that gives you the information without leading you somewhere else.   

The ideal for WikiTree would be that ALL profiles are genealogically defined.  If you had a category for that, it would lead you to a site where you have all the profiles on WikiTree listed, millions and millions -- which would be useless.  

So I really don't think you want a category.  You want a badge or certification or something like that.

@Jack Day is not useless you can filter...

I see categories as the "poor man's" way of adding structures.... and hope on the next 10 years the WIkiTree platform will develop ==> then you can easy transfer what you have in a Category to something more useful...

The good thing with categories is that you can filter them and show just what's in your watchlist.... 

If the user story is:

"As a person doing genealogy I would like to fast find the genealogical defined profiles I have created and is in my watchlist. That would make it easier for me to......"

Then a category is great... 

+12 votes
On my profiles that are post-1837 I now put sources for the birth reg, christening, a full set of censuses, any marriages and death and burial, where I can find them. I then add the parents and children as new profiles or, if I don't want to give them a new profile each (you have to stop somewhere), I'll mention them all in the bio. I detail every "event" chronologically in the bio, with a short narrative paragraph for each one. It's a work in progress though, not all of them have everything yet and I may take several goes at it. I sometimes find other stuff such as electoral roll, newspapers or prison records and for those alive in 1939, I add the 1939 register. I also mention occupations and street addresses off the censuses. I will also search the GRO for infants who were born and died between censuses, if the family have a gap between childrens' births.
by Gillian Causier G2G6 Pilot (219k points)
+11 votes
I try to provide these things. It would be easier if there were more fields (like baptism), and if we could link facts to different sources like on the FamilySearch Family Tree (and without having to write out biographies). I spend most of my genealogy time with that site these days. It's less frustrating and offers better research options.
by anonymous G2G6 Mach 1 (17k points)
edited by anonymous
I'd like a baptism field too, or a radio button to say whether it is birth date or baptism date.
I still use WikiTree for two primary reasons:

1. It shows up better on Google searches and is more visible than FSFT as cousin bait.

2. I've already invested a lot of time/effort into this site and wish to maintain my work here.
+8 votes
It would be nice to have a category for example profiles. You could then search for profiles that have been completely defined. Some people seem to live in a world where everything was recorded and kept and can be found. It is a little like antiques. They become more precious because so much of the contemporary material has been lost or destroyed over time. These people are the exception, not the rule. If people are near in time maybe records can be found. If people lived in certain towns where records were stored and available maybe the can be found. If people are part of an area that has been much researched like Mayflower or the American Revolution maybe records can be found.

For many people this is an impossible standard. The anonymous wife for instance. Nobody remembers her last name. This is especially a problem with multiple marriages. She might have gone by a previous husbands name.

If some one had a common name they are really hard compared to a more unique name that stands out, even with multiple spellings.

Well to do people have always had better records than poor people. The rich and famous get into the books.

Certainly this is a goal but it is only achievable if the material is accessible. Not all records have been published or online. Not everyone can visit the small towns. The small town records might not even exist. The town might not exist.

People do what the can. Certainly much more can be added, but there are reasons for brick walls and guesses.

Well sourced profiles should be recognized, but these are an ideal not possible for everyone.
by Sue Hall G2G6 Pilot (131k points)
YES! This is what I was talking about. It could be expanded as profiles meet certain standards.

There is a big difference between countries... example of +30 sources found for a profile in Säfnäs, Dalarna, Sweden after just some hours research...

I also think

  • more focus on creating good profiles
  • if Wikitree could connect local "experts" with people having profiles in this area that would be magic....
  • resources don't have to be online if they are its create but I am willing to travel to the archives. The problem is today I have roots in Poland and Serbia and have difficult to take the next step even if I am part of a Polish genealogy society and visited local archives in Serbia....  
What you're saying may be true of some places to certain extents. In those cases, avoid posting things that you can't support with sources.

Also, I think people often DON'T do what they can. They take a cursory look and, when records prove difficult to locate, they stop looking and start guessing. Just because it is not on the internet doesn't mean it can't be found. You might have to make some phone calls or visit libraries. Some people simply won't do this.
+7 votes
Keep in mind what he means by Genealogically Defined is about strict genealogy or proving lineage.  How do we know who the parents are?, how do we know who the spouse is, how do we know who the children are?

If evidence strongly supports a connection then the link is "proven" and the line is established.  This says nothing of fleshing out the profile with details.

"Completely Defined" is not the same as "Genealogically Defined" where we are only establishing the lineage link.

Certainly there is a lot more we can add to make a profile better.
by Michael Stills G2G6 Pilot (390k points)
+9 votes
In the profiles created by me I usually do not list the children in the biography. It seems redundant to me to add as many as sometimes 18 children with sources to both husband and wife when the program already adds them automatically to the profile. I do, however, refer all profiles of children back to their parents in their bio, together with the source for birth/baptism. Strictly speaking, therefore, my profiles don't qualify as "genealogically defined" because my sourcing goes one way back in time. Still, it does not convince me to start adding children to the bio.
by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (509k points)
Helmut, the reason I include a list of children in the bio is to have a place to document the source for their children since wikitree does not associate sources with fields. On a list of children, I can cite the specific sources for each of their baptisms, marriages, deaths.

This is particularly important in those cases where such a list may include children who do not (yet) have profiles on wikitree. For example, some people may not create profiles of children who died young-- or if we follow Michael Stills' interpretation of Anderson, may not create profiles of children who did not themselves marry and/or have children (since they're not "genealogically relevant." ;-)
I guess I would have to say that if I have documentation for children, birth or baptismal record or at least credible secondary literature, I would create a profile for them with the sources on that profile. That's why your scenario did not occur to me.

Agree with @Jillaine this is a shortcoming/wrong design of WikiTree that there are a few structured  fields but no possibility to add sources....

I have created long timelines in text with inline ref to get some structure but its not a good solution.... see Elg-19

My next try is to start use offline software so that I can add more structure/locations to my family tree 

Nice profile, Magnus.
Helmut, when I work on a profile I almost always add a separate section for children, where I can add the documentation for each.  Yes, this can be repeated on the child's own profile.  Better twice sourced than none.  But it is having the child's sourcing on the parent's profile that documents the links to the children.

You get a perspective from the parental information that you don't have when only looking at the child's.  I just worked on a profile where there was a 7 year window between the year of the marriage and the year of one spouse's death.  All the children of that couple had to be born in that window.  There were about 6 children linked to the couple who fell outside that window, in addition to those who fell inside.  The immediately told me more research is needed -- either the window was too small and a marriage date or death date was wrong, or else the child had one but not both parents, or the child didn't belong at all.
I don't think the term "genealogically defined" is directed at the biographies, Helmut. As Michael's post states, it's about having sources for each individual attached to any profile.

For your example, a parent with 18 children linked would need sources that support the existence of the 18 children. As the profile manager, you are free to add each child to the biography, add one or two who may have done something significant, or add none of them.

Another manager of a similar profile is free to do the same, using his/her preferred style (for example, this manager may choose to create a free-space to list the children).

As profile managers, we are free (within flexible style guidelines) to work the profiles we manage in whatever ways work best for each of us. That variety of styles is one of WikiTrees strong points, in my opinion!

>> That variety of styles is one of WikiTrees strong points, in my opinion!

I would say its the weakness of WikiTree that a source citation is just some texts.... Wikitree is more like a blog than a platform supporting good genealogy....  

I hope we get more Users who has a vision of doing more advanced genealogy. The last year I feel Aleš is in the driving seat and not the WikiTree community and or Chris with the WikiTree platform... 

I miss a vision of WikiTree.... If you do genealogy then you should have tools so that it is easy to use and easy to do good genealogy. Saying that its good because you can write whatever you will and in what style you want then its not a genealogy platform....

Why is WikiTree 2017 having problems with simple queries like

  1. find all profiles not genealogy defined
  2. finding the locations of all graves on a churchyard  
    1. not using categories with no coordinates
  3. generate maps of the locations of your family tree and how they moved
  4. creating timelines of your family tree
  5. easy find WikiTree profiles that in Wikidata has a FindAgrave memorial see map
    1. or display all the birth locations of people with a birth location and also on WIkidata (abt. 18000 people slow query)


Good genealogy is much easier done if you add your information in a structured way i.e. you add a source as a source....

Good genealogy is much easier done if you get support from the software I guess we still have some people who think it was better before WikiTree+ and the Database Error report but most people I think like it and dont understand why we didnt have this from day 0... the sad thing is that soon Alesš has done what he can with WikiTree and now WikiTree need to change to support more advanced functions... 


Please give us more vision how WikiTree should develop and to do it a better and more interesting genealogy platform.....

+9 votes
After seeing the answers and comments for this question, I've come to the conclusion that, if we have a template containing a full blown citation, why do we bother with inline sourced biographies? A better way to identify Genealogically Defined profiles would be a GD template with a nice logo. The process for achieving a GD template would be to meet the criteria for a GD profile and adding a GD category to the profile. Then, after being checked by an independent WT'er, the profile would have the cat changed to a template. The independent WT'er would be a Leader or one of a group deemed qualified by the Leaders to award the GD template. The template would not include any source information because all the sources would be included in the biography.
by Bob Keniston G2G6 Pilot (195k points)
I concur (at least I think I'm concurring) that citations belong in the narrative, not in a GD template.

Why involve leader? Good genealogy should be understood by everyone....

If we should have a judge then everyone should upvote it works in G2G... 

As WikiTree is a global family tree we should do genealogy that everyone can follow. If someone has given a source we dont understand tell the persons working with the profile that I dont understand this and then he either explain or change the way he source... in the best of all possible worlds

My guess is that this is a tool for yourself to track that you dont miss any profile.... so no upvote is needed...

>> that citations belong in the narrative

You can have citations in a template in the narrative. Test add the following

{{Space:GD|Reslöv (M) CI:2 (1728-1792) Image 1020 / page 95 (AID: v106708a.b1020.s95, NAD: SE/LLA/13309)}}


yada yada<ref>{{Space:GD|"California Birth Index, 1905-1995," database, FamilySearch ( : 27 November 2014), Haakon R Nielsen, 16 Apr 1917; citing Alameda, California, United States, Department of Health Services, Vital Statistics Department, Sacramento.}}</ref> yada yada yada<ref>{{Space:GD|Reslöv (M) CI:2 (1728-1792) Image 1020 / page 95 (AID: v106708a.b1020.s95, NAD: SE/LLA/13309)}}</ref>

Space:GD is a template I did now as test used on


Bob, I think this would be good for pre-1500 profiles, in which the aspiration would be that eventually all of them would be up to the standards of the Magna Carta project, including certification by a reviewer.  

I don't think this would be either necessary or feasible for post-1850 profiles which are primarily of interest to a much smaller group of descendants.
Magnus, the problem with any template, say for a census, is that ideally, when I cite a census with a link, I don't just want the link to go back to the overall census, I want the link to go back to the page of the census with that particular individual's data.  

I pay for an Ancestry account, and even with Ancestry, the process of finding an individual's record in a particular census is hit or miss, therefore once I've found it, I want to capture that link.  

Now, if you had a template where, if I attached it to the profile of John Doe, Birmingham, Alabama,  (1873-1953), it would automatically find, link to, and display every census he appears in from 1880 to 1940, THAT would be an asset!

@Jack Day

A template is just a substitution of text so it will never do any magic in itself but it will add structure something we dont have in WikiTree when we add all information just as text

>> I want to capture that link

I would say you would like to cite this in a way so other people doing genealogy will find the same source and can compare. Better than a link is a persistent identifier that will also survive when Ancestry has given up....

In Sweden we use unique names of the books defined by the Swedish National Archive and then we also use the physical page 

>> it would automatically find, link to

but that it was Ancestry are trying to do.... and nothing a Wiki Template will do. A Wikitemplate will add structure,,,,,

  • Unique name of source
  • What type of event - birth marriage, household record
  • When the event happened...
  • Location of the event
    • using name
    • historical correct name
    • GPS coordinates
      • maybe GPS coordinates a grave or a house
  • maybe
    • if we trust the source
    • quality of source
    • primary/secondary....
Magnus, because most of us don't understand the mechanics of something like this -- and probably none of us understand all of its implications -- I think it could be useful for you to create a template which could accomplish some of the purposes you describe and then publicize its availability for people to try on an optional basis.  

The way people could see how it works in practice, and we could see how much it improves profiles on which it is used and whether it achieves the purpose or is too much trouble, or has bad side effects, but any down side to it would be minimized.

@Jack Day 
See Aleš suggestion in G2G sep 2016


  1. You can generate timeline of events in one persons life
  2. You can generate maps with locations they have moved
  3. You could start see how many events are sourced ==> reports like  Genealogically Defined 
+4 votes
I can see BIG post-1837 problems here in the UK.

Birth linking to parents: birth certificates have to be bought (and I don't know about you, but I don't have the spare change to buy even one certificate, let alone the thousands on my Watchlist).  The mother's maiden name can be discovered (but not her first name), but no amount of staring at a reference will bring the father's name.

Marriage: OK

Children: does a census count as a source? because if it's post-1837, you're back to buying the birth certificate again.

Death: another you-must-buy a certificate.  If you're lucky, the informant will be 'widow of the deceased'.  If the person was too poor to leave a Will (most of mine were), you won't be able to link relationships.
by R H G2G Astronaut (1m points)
+4 votes
I *REALLY* like this a whole lot!  ... BUT there's a problem.

In many bios that I have written, the sources that I have used to document statements that I made about parent, spouse, and children births/deaths are at Find a Grave (if I have a better source, of course I will use it, but in the absence of a better one, this is sometimes the best I have).

These are now labeled as db errors because they are not the Find a Grave memorials for the subject of the profile, but that is only the cause of the real problem:  we have people anointed as "data doctors" who are hell bent on amassing points by running around and removing these sources from profiles.

I have worked very hard to produce biographies that are coherent, as complete as possible, and well formatted with footnoted citations that are displayed in the Sources section, but now sometimes the superscript link to the footnote is not there leaving an unsourced statement in the bio, while other times the link is still there but there is no footnote corresponding to it.  

The only word I can think of for the result of these efforts is "vandalism" and I have begun to wonder why I go to the trouble of doing all this work only to have other members encouraged to destroy it.
by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (769k points)
+3 votes

While you are allowed to have your opinion in G2G, you are NOT encouraged to call people names and hurl abuse at what they are doing.  Ever heard of the Honor Code? assuming that mistakes are unintentional? being courteous?

Words such as 'vandalism', phrases such as 'hell bent on amassing points' are extremely hurtful to those of us who are trying our best, following the Style Guide, etc.
by R H G2G Astronaut (1m points)
I don't see why Gaile should be discouraged from expressing her true feelings about what she experiences at WikiTree, Ros. If her feelings are that strong, then she should express them strongly. The vandalism comment may be extreme, without evidence of clear intent; however, I often read comments in G2G in which some members comment (even complain) about losing points while others express concern that fellow members needlessly edit to accumulate points (no evidence of intent presented, though).

There are many other members (including me) who have mentioned similar experiences; and still more who probably don't express their full opinions for fear of being branded as troublemakers.

If we oppress our full and true feelings or allow our fellow members to oppress us, we end up hiding problems instead of fixing them. These problems then fester and create even more problems and bad blood among members.

Of course, we should all try to communicate in a civil manner, but not at the expense of watering down our messages.

Thank you for your support, Lindy.

Ros, I have said nothing that is discourteous, nor have I called anyone any name other than the one by which they identify themselves here, nor have I expressed anything that should be perceived as hurtful by those who are not engaging in the activity of making changes to things labeled as "errors" on a report without taking the time or trouble to see if they are really errors.

As to my use of the word "vandalism" to describe the damage done to some profiles in the name of "error correction", Aaron Adelson's is a very clear illustration if you look at the change pages and observe the three changes and two messages that were posted there within a 10 minute period on May 5, 2017.  These changes and their effects are:

  1. The entire citation for the Find a Grave record of Aaron's mother was replaced by a blank line, with the explanation "See profile note".  The result of this change is:
    1. There are two superscript links "[2]" in the biography to a citation under the Source heading that has only the number 2 (the citation that used to be there is now missing).
    2. The statement in the biography that identifies Aaron's parents is no longer supported by a source.
    3. The statement in the biography about the death of Aaron's mother prior to his father's remarriage is no longer supported by a source. 
    4. The line listing all source numbers that appears immediately under the Sources heading is now discontinuous - it is missing the number "2" and has a line skip in the middle of it.
  2. The comment posted on the profile identifies a WikiTree error number and the Find a Grave memorial number, plus the following explanation:  "Removed FindAGrave Link from profile as it does not match wikitree profile. However may be a family member".
    • The citation included not only the Find A Grave link, but also identification of it as the memorial for Aaron's mother, so the "may be a family member" part of the comment pretty clearly indicates to me that the person did not even read what he deleted.  This is beyond the fact that this citation was not used as a source for Aaron's death.  In addition, I have never before seen changes "justified" in comments instead of the explanation field of the change itself.
  3. A second comment posted on the profile provides a different citation for the same SSDI record already cited and linked in the Sources section​ and also includes the data in the record.
    • ​​This is superfluous and redundant.
  4. The birth and death dates, previously missing in the data, were added with an appropriate change explanation.
    • ​​This corrects my error of forgetting to add this data when I found the source records.  Both dates were also marked as certain, while the birth date should be uncertain, since a death record is not a primary source for birth information.
  5. ​The last change was to correct the approximate birth year previously in the biography to the precise date in the SSDI.
    • ​​Again, this corrects my error.

​The addition of birth and death dates to data and addition of precise date to biography are very welcome changes which I greatly appreciate.  The deletion of a source citation with total disregard of the effect on both statements that are attributed to it and the formatting of the page is what I consider vandalism, regardless of anyone's opinion about the strength of the word - pure and simply, academic content and page appearance were both adversely impacted, and the two unnecessary and redundant comments further negatively impact the page appearance - I cannot think of a more accurate term to describe that kind of change. 

Making 5 changes to accomplish two things - the excellent example of what collaboration should be and the vandalism - has the appearance of point chasing.  It is too much to ask me to allow for the "mistake" of deleting a source citation even remotely possible of being unintentional; the comment certainly precludes it having been anything other than a deliberate action.

Finally, I have an issue with your saying that the words I used are "hurtful to those of us who are trying our best, following the Style Guide, etc.".   Those are NOT the people who make changes to profiles without considering whether the change is needed in the first place, whether other things in the profile will be affected by the change and therefore need to be addressed, and - the biggest - without first attempting to contact a very active profile manager. 


+4 votes
Thank you Michael. Biography Builders is now incorporating Genealogically Defined into the challenge. If the bio is defined, DEFINED is being added after the name, and the profile has Genealogically Defined added, which links to an FSP. Hopefully, the concept will catch on.
by Bob Keniston G2G6 Pilot (195k points)
Bob, I am flattered that you have taken such steps, it will be interesting to see how this is recieved and used.  See my note of caution above about assumptions on what a source is verses evidence.  I wrote a note to Robert Anderson expressing my support for his long held concept and was amazed that one does not see this refered to often in the professional genealogical word.  Everyone is all-a-twitter with Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills and the Board for Certification of Genealogists' Proof Standards.  Very valuable stuff but GD, I think, is a simple concept to get new folks moving in the right direction on WikiTree.

Please do credit Robert Charles Anderson on your pages.  Maybe provide links to his Genealogical Analysis as well. (linked to in the original question).

I think I might have to do another Biography Builder as I enjoyed my first one very much.

Nice work Space:Genealogically_Defined I like the concept of having a checklist

I have thought before of having a special tab Research Plans and it would be great to have predefined checklist that you could tick saying this 5 things has been done.... and then get reports of profiles with checklist that you need to work with.... 

I saw an early prototype some months ago from Aleš about finding profiles that needs more work and if we move in that direction checklist is one way of easier track progress on profiles and easier find profiles that needs more care....

I like Family Search approach with Research Strategies

I also hope WikiTree is redesigned so we can easy measure Genealogical defined...


RCA is now credited. Hope you don't mind, but I used your opening for this post. I couldn't have said it better. Thanks again.
Thank you Bob.

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