Unknown in first name instead of last name

+9 votes
While I've been reviewing matchbot merges, I've notcied a lot of profiles where it seems the surname and first name are switched. For instance Unknown is the first name and Barbara, Ida, Mary are the last names. I realize these could be the last names, but I wanted to know if there are more of these and there should be something done to fix them.

Since if these are switched up it would be creating problems in the long run. I don't know how they would be proved, but I wanted to bring it up.
asked in Policy and Style by Sarah Rojas G2G6 Mach 5 (59.9k points)
recategorized by Jillaine Smith

There are loads


which is what makes it difficult to do anything with them.


Wow, I guess that's a project that one day will need to be done!
I suspect people doing genealogies don't realize that the genealogies they have borrowed have filled in the "unknown" name in the wrong location.  I don't know if such people realize they need to fix the names before they import them into wikitree.  I presume most of them have come from GEDCOM imports but I could be wrong.

If the "source" information is wrong, shouldn't it be corrected before the profile is made on wikitree?  Now, it's catch up time and it'll take a lot of work to fix the whole shebang.
Some time back I believe there were members working on an informal project to research people with names like Unknown Rebecca, and fix the profiles. It would be worth doing again, if people are interested.
I ran across those profiles too. It was too overwhelming at the time for me to do anything about it. It would definitely be helpful in fixing those profiles.

3 Answers

+2 votes
Best answer
Situations like this are the result of GEDCOM import. In the importers software they put Unknown Mary where Mary's last name is unknown. Also, in some published family histories, the author will put Unknown Mary when they don't know Mary's LN. The "error" gets perpetuated and WT puts Mary in the last name spot. If you're the PM, edit the LNAB to Unknown and correct the first name. If not the PM, leave a comment, mentioning a change isn't necessary if the person's LNAB is in fact Mary.
answered by Bob Keniston G2G6 Pilot (157k points)
selected by Carolyn Martin
+1 vote
I recently found an ancestor that I originally called 'Elizabeth Jane [--?--]', but then discovered that 'Jane' is an actual surname in southwest England, so she was Elizabeth JANE.  This is where it really helps to put the surname in all caps! *grin*

Something like this situation won't help the potential project, though...
answered by Ros Haywood G2G6 Pilot (399k points)

Made famous to geeks by a long-standing publication, Jane's Fighting Ships



And I have living cousins whose surname is 'David'...
+4 votes
I have corrected  whole bunch of.these.

It is encouraging to think others are helping.

Undoubtedly it is an error which will eventually join the dberrors list.
answered by Sir William Arbuthnot of Kittybrewster G2G6 Pilot (146k points)

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