This is why it is ok to put comments on profiles

+35 votes

Not only is it ok to add public comments to profiles, it is invited and encouraged for a variety of reason including but not limited to:


  • Members can collaborate on the profile (collaboration requires communication)

  • Members can express their interest in the profile or ancestor

  • Members can express their pride in the profile or ancestor

  • Members can express their relationship to the person

  • Members can thank contributors

  • Search engines can find the profile, member, and expressed information

  • WikiTree increases its views, members, search rankings, etc

  • Distant cousins can connect


The comment boards on WikiTree profiles are open forums for members to communicate.  Comments that relate to the profile and genealogy are within the acceptable boundaries.  Being a wiki we allow a broad range of interpretations.


Not every comment posted on a profile will be of interest to everyone.  Some will only care for comments regarding collaboration on the profile.  Some will only wish to seek cousins.  Still others will have their own reason not yet considered.  We wish for all to be able to express themselves with open lines of communication and as little restriction as possible.  This is accepted in internet culture as a whole.


The more modern a profile is then the more frivolous the comments can be.  As we go back further towards deep ancestors the more constructive the comments should be.


Members who wish to receive notice of these public postings on a particular profile can opt to be on the trusted-list or manage the profile (Members who do not wish to receive the notifications may opt out).


WikiTree is a wonderful place where members can express themselves and cousins can connect, the profile message board is a tool for them to do so :)


Have a super day!


in Policy and Style by Keith Hathaway G2G6 Pilot (605k points)
retagged by Robin Lee
I put temporary notes on profiles in the bulletin board section on parents etc so if the profile managers have issues with connections I'm going to make they can smack me around. ;-}
In general, I support this stance. It's the specific posting of "I'm the 6th g'grand-daughter of Edmund Rice" on Edmund Rice's 17th century profile that I think should be discouraged and okay to delete.
I share Jillaine's view that we should not be using profile messages on distant ancestors' profiles to post "this is my ancestor" messages (which to me seem like graffiti -- similar to "Kilroy was here").

Messages on profiles are an important communication tool in WikiTree -- to send messages to profile managers, to communicate reasons for merge proposals, to post information that may or may not deserve to be added, etc. If we start using them for frivolous social graffiti, profile managers (particularly of early profiles) will be inundated with inconsequential email from WikiTree and the profile message space will become useless for communication.
Agree with Jack and Ellen, there are posts that are "value added" posts and then there are the posts that I get on US Presidents Profiles of 23th cousin 7 times removed.  I will continue to say that there is no value added in those kinds of posts and they just "mask" the real information that is being posted.

This is a response from another thread:


This being a wiki site... one that is to bridge all peoples, international boundaries, generations, and cultures... we must allow for others to express themselves freely.  It is the standard in internet culture now.  In order to stay successful and continue to become more popular it is important to give people the ability to communicate and not to censor or restrict any more than necessary.

There are a variety of different people using this site for different reasons.  We have to be flexible to accommodate everyone.

Some people feel "this is my XXXXth great grandfather" doesn't belong in the public comment board on a profile.  Those people have the ability at WikiTree not to post such a thing.

Some people feel that it is entirely appropriate and are inspired to do so.  At WikiTree (and other popular wiki sites) they can.

When WikiTree was created (by a proven wiki-genius) the vision was to use the public comment boards on the profiles for all types of communication relating to the profile and genealogy.  The comments in debate are well within this description and intention.

I believe we agree that the comments are ok on our personal profiles.  Probably even on our parents "this is my dad" is fine.  I don't think either of us finds it productive on 11th generation ancestors and likely are not inspired to post them.  I think our personal opinions are in agreement on the use of them.  I mentioned in my original post that age of the profile was to be considered.

If we disagree about anything it would only be level of control and censorship.

I think the thing to discuss would be how to encourage use of the comment boards in relation to the ages of the profiles.  Instead of treating them all as open for anything or all of them as restricted, maybe dates would be considered.

Maybe something along the lines of encouraging posting on newer ancestors while guiding people towards more productive postings on ancient ancestors.

Doing a positive thing like educating people or promoting a view is far more wiki than laying down the law.

I do know that if someone posted a legit comment on my 4th great-grandfather Hathaway's profile (or one of several others) saying they were a descendant I would be thrilled for many reasons.
Long answer deleted.  I'll send via private message.  Bottom line, I didn't realize wikitree wanted to be another social media site. I'm thrilled I now have permission and even encouragement to go to the profile of my current least favorite politician and freely express myself and feel confident that I won't be censored.
WikiTree is a combination of the genealogy database and the community of people.  It is both a technical and social site... a hybrid :)
Ha ha Jillaine, I am pretty sure you are just kidding. But I think the Honor Code requires treating others, even politicians, with respect, and especially with consideration for living people.

So I would hope that nobody would actually do such a thing as "freely express" themselves with comments on "least favorite" people. My comments are not always respectful. I can be, er, blunt. I delete those when I later come across them.
I don’t mind people posting “this is my Kin” on profiles I manage. Mostly because I seem to be working alone and I’m happy to find family. It would be different if I was getting dozens a day I spose.

4 Answers

+10 votes
Best answer
Clearly there are two sides to this story with valid positions.   Perhaps there is a "middle ground".   My suggestion would be that Project Profiles may have a different approach than the millions of common ancestors.
by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (672k points)
selected by Paula Reinke
+19 votes
I strongly disagree with "members can express their relationship to the person."  That belongs on their own profile.

I would be less concerned with comments if it did not appear that they are intended to remain there until the poster of the comment deletes it.  If I manage a profile, and seek to delete a comment which I did not write but which has served its purpose, I get a red warning which warns me I am about to become a bad person.  

It is the presence of the warning when one sets out to delete a comment one did not write that gives any comment a touch of aggressive intrusion.  "I'm putting this comment here and you have to leave it up.... nya,nya,nya!"  No, of course nobody has actually said that!  But most comments refer to a particular discussion or suggestion, and when the discussion has been concluded, one should be able to remove the associated comments without feeling like one is violating the honor code..

Sometimes comments can be very helpful.  "Check out Richardson, Volume III, page 587."  But after I've done that and included the material in the biography, why does the comment need to stay up?
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (349k points)
I think it's fine if people post about relationships that are associated with memories, information, requests, etc. (e.g., "This is my great-grandmother. My family has the desk she used when she taught school in New Hope the year before she got married." or "This is my great-grandmother. Do you have a photo of her?").

What needs to be discouraged is adding notes about relationships that do nothing more than what might be called "marking territory" ("This is my 11th great grandmother" -- yes, you and me and 50,000 other descendants, but probably none of us know anything about her beyond what's in this profile, and imagine what it would look like if all of us added comments on her profile).
+10 votes


I already deleted the comment I added....However;

The reason I posted the comment in the first place was because I saw several very distant cousins express themselves in such an awsome and playful way that it inspired me to follow suit. While I totally agree that such notes do not belong in the biography section, I think the joy de vivre and esprit de corps generated by the simple comments adds MUCH more to the community than worrying over some text bits that will roll off the page as additional comments are added

Just my .02


by Nick Andreola G2G6 Mach 4 (45.1k points)
Good positive thoughts Nick, thank you for voicing them :)
I understand, Nick.

But all those how-I'm-related comments push more informative comments off the page. I'm sorry. I simply disagree that there is any value to such comments especially on what we used to call "historically significant" profiles-- profiles that have thousands of descendants.
I suffer with what used to be a common but nowadays seems like a very rare affliction. One of the symptoms of this affliction is that I'm forced to see both sides of any debated topic.  I saw Ellen Smith's comment about PM's receiving "inconsequential email" and am VERY much in-line with the points you just made.

However,  I also see that the one massive benefit to this site is the collaborative element. I'm here to connect and collaborate. While others have posted that I could put my connection to Thomasine in my personal biography---thats pure nonsense, what would make someone look at my profile when viewing Thomasine's? That profile already has so many PMs, and adding ALL her descendents to that list would be comical. We could all ask to be added to the TL, but if inconsequential emails about a comment is a burden...... and not all wikitree users are adept at looking into the background screens such as viewing the TL. Because of the public comments, I now know NOT JUST that  Deborah (Greenfield) Oliver, Tina (Burton) Bennington and Keith Hathaway are my cousins but they are my fellow WIKITREE'ERS and potential collaborators! That is the beauty of this site/those comments to me.

Another symptom of this affliction is that I'm forced to try to offer a solution that appeals to both sides of my brain. Just shooting from the hip here and haven't thought through all unintended consequences/ramifications.....still need more coffee.......How about; there is a section added (maybe under the  list of "Thomasine is 14 degrees from Kevin Bacon..." where it doesn't cloud/clog the primary profile. The section could be called "Descendents On Wikitree" (or maybe something better HA!) and anyone wanting to could put their  "Thomasine is my 11th Great Grandmother!" notes with the quick-link to their profile down there?????
We currently have a "thank you" option on each comments. I wonder if technically it is possible that comments can be ranked by number of thank yous instead of chronologically?

So then high value comments would no longer scroll off the page.

While 16th cousin comments would still be able to hit the vast ether out there, without adding clutter.

Ideally, it would run as a sort only once daily, to conserve resources, such as happens with the family connections to prominent people at the bottom of the page.
Brilliant.  Genius. (Steven Mix)
I dunno about "voting" with thank-yous. I interact with a few members who seem to be part of mutual-appreciation societies (for example, groups of close family members) who generously thank each other for nearly every edit, and are generous in bestowal of Family Stars, Community Stars, on other group members. That kind of mutual encouragement is a fine thing, but if it were combined with the voting system you propose, the voting results would be meaningless.
Thank you Keith! :)

Well, Ellen, people can only thank once. I can't imagine that a handful of mutual admirers would be stalking all the 16th cousin comments enough to out-vote the 20 thank yous for a high value comment on a famous profile.

So I don't really see a downside to my suggestion. The alternative is to accept the status quo of super high value comments promptly disappearing beneath the mountain of clutter comments.

I thank comments all the time, which might months or years old. I do so if I respect the work of the commenter more than most people, and if the comment really adds good value. Surely I can't be alone in this.

Likewise, I receive thank yous all the time, from comments that I had left months or years ago. So over time, those rise to to the top, under my scheme. Whereas the junk might get thanked once, and then buried.
+2 votes
Came across this discussion which is not yet closed.  It was written before upgrades were made to the comments section of a profile, so that comments which are, or have become irrelevant, can be archived.  Has WikiTree leadership come up with any new policies related to "This is my 23rd great-grandmother" comments, or does it simply remain something about which WikiTreers are deeply divided?
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (349k points)
For those of us who don't like "This is my 23d great-grandmother" comments, it makes it less morally conflicting to get rid of them, since you can hide them by archiving them rather than entirely deleting them, and you don't get a harsh warning message about deleting comments. From the standpoint of the person who posted the comment, however, archiving it is essentially the same as deleting it, since no one will see the comment after it had been archived.

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