Should these style rules for "Profile Stickers" be made official? [closed]

+31 votes

Hi WikiTreers,

A few weeks ago we proposed consolidating User Boxes and what we had been calling Recognition Boxes into "Profile Stickers." See this G2G post. There was widespread support so we're moving forward.

To see an example of the current draft of their design, see Example-6. The exact format is subject to change.

Here are the proposed style rules:

Please post here if you have suggestions for changes. We hope to finalize the new rules within a few days and then start the transition process.

Onward and upward,


closed with the note: Policy on Stickers now official
in The Tree House by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
closed by Chris Whitten
Thanks to everyone who gave input. We are now closing this discussion and making the policy on Stickers official. Abby and Ales will be managing the transition.

I will delete demonstration stickers. If you tried them out on any profiles, remove them or replace with standard stickers.

I just edited the one profile using Template:Immigrant, so that one is no longer "used from" any people profiles. BUT. What happened to the second flag? It no longer matches the first one but is encased in a box. See
We moved the formatting from template to CSS file and I didn't check on Sticker with two images. Now it is ok. Maybe you need to refresh the page to see it correctly..
Thanks Aleš - looks much better now :D
With migrating ancestors, Lithuania only became a republic in 1918. If ancestors left before then, should the flag is the FROM country be RUSSIA or Lithuania?
Hi Chris

I tried a flag on several relatives.

Clearly I've done something wrong as the flag page popped up and asked me to tag people, which I did, then I was that there was an error.
Hi Sharon,  I'll add the right sticker to one of the profiles you edited so that you have an example
Hi Sharon! This is a thread about rules for profile stickers & is closed. I'm headed over to your profile to see if I can help.

Cheers, Liz
and I see I should have refreshed the tab before replying! Thanks Louis!

8 Answers

+12 votes
Hi Chris,

This is more a question than an answer. But are we gonna have to go back through all the profiles we added the veteran recognition or any other "stickers" and re-edit everything?
by Steve McCabe G2G6 Pilot (362k points)
the easiest thing to do is modify the template itself and keep the template name the same.  this way no profile maintenance is required for the change itself, but people may want to edit the profile and move the placement of the template around to enhance how it looks when displayed on the profile page.

in this initial testing phase the Veteran sticker was coped from {{Veteran Recognition}} recognition box and {{Civil War}} sticker was copied from {{US C W}} recognition box.. if you want to see the difference side by side, just add both versions to a profile and take a look at them....  just be sure to take one of them back out again....
+5 votes
Will these then replace some of the existing templates projects are using?

Will there be a location where existing profile stickers can be copied and pasted into a profile (Like WWII Veteran, Civil War Veteran, Occupation: and then we would be able to fill in after the colon)?

Also if only leaders can create them, what if you have ancestors you would like to put one on but there is no leader as they are not part of a project?
by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (682k points)
Only a leader can create a new profile sticker. Any member can use them to add to a profile.
Yes I saw that in the rules.  My question is what if a profile has no Leader as it is not part of a project?  If standard ones are created like Occupation that can be modified could they be accessed from a library of pre-created standard ones...
As I understand it, there will be a library of Profile Stickers to use just as there are currently libraries of User Boxes, etc. A profile does not necessarily have to have a leader involved or be part of project in order for a box to be put on it.

leaders create/maintain templates, that is all of the coding behind the scenes that perform all the actions, i.e. where/what to display on the template, adding to categories, etc.

Anybody can add a template call to a profile, whether or not the person adding, or the profile being added to, is part of a project.

for instance, if you have a profile and the person served in the US ARmy in World War II, and that is all you know from their obit, gravestone photo, etc, all you need to do is add {{World War II|United States Army}}

each profile has its own requirements of what it can process, when you look at the template page, it should list the format for the line that needs to be added to the profile.
Ok if there is a library of pre-created ones that cover things like occupation, religion, immigration and emigration dates, medals and honors, then I think it is a great idea.  If the only way to get one is to belong to a project and a leader create one I think that is really a bad idea.  There are a lot of profiles not covered by a project.  

I am not sure why ancestors are limited to 5 and your profile is unlimited...  I mean who really cares about living people we can't generally see anyway?

there is a project for templates, so everything/everyone is covered by the ability to have a template create, there are leaders for the template project that are able to create/modify templates that do not fall under some pother project...

What sort of things are you seeing that would need to have a template created for?  if you are on a single profile, and the item is only applicable to that single person, or a very small set of people, there is nothing gained by creating a template for it...   a template is just a way to have the same set of things applied to all profiles that fit in that grouping.
My question was if the new stickers would be replacing the templates?

If so are they being brought over or will new ones be created.  

I would like to see occupation and religion because they can help you find information.
a template for occupation and religion does not help you find anything unless it does something more than display on the profile, i.e. it also adds the profile to a category.  you can add profiles to categories directly without having a template do it for you.

if the decision ends up as recognition boxes are out, stickers are in, for most cases the template code would be changed to fit into the definition of a sticker, i.e. what size, display on right side of profile, etc.

if the decision is new sticker will be made, but recognition boxes can stay for the same data, then it would be up to the PM to decide which one to use... i do not see that happening since it means having to make changes in two different places....  take a look at my profile, i have it using both sticker and recognition box for the civil war and veteran recognition, it gives you a side by side comparison of the two types of templates
+7 votes
I see an issue with the military templates. Officers do not enlist, they are commissioned. So if someone entered the military as an officer the template should say Commissioned: not Enlisted:.
by Deb Durham G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
there are so many variations it will drive you crazy, what if they were drafted and did not volunteer?  what about enlisted personnel who received battlefield promotions, became warrant officers, etc?

trying to determine who is an officer and who is not... would have to parse/allow for every rank and possible spelling variation, or add another parameter for officer/enlisted

before doing all of that, it would be easier to change the wording to date entered service and date exited service
No, it just requires a template for officers and one for enlisted men on any that currently use that term. Otherwise, it requires one without either term. You don't need one for every rank. The rank at the end of service can be entered by the user.
there is a drive to reduce and standardize templates, not make more of them.

You are trying to say that we should have a {{World War II Officers}} and a {{World War II Enlisted}} ? and the only difference is the wording of Enlisted or Commissioned, Discharged or Resigned Commission?  Then you have to consider difference between discharged and retired, a person Killed in Action was not discharged/resigned commission, etc..
The military has two different classes of personnel - officers and enlisted.  The term "enlisted" does not have anything to do with whether someone joined voluntarily or was drafted.  Deb's original answer stated the situation correctly - officers are commissioned while non-officers are enlisted.

Oh, Deb ... didn't you mean "enlisted personnel" instead of "enlisted men"???
Yes, Gaile, I absolutely meant enlisted personnel!

Keith, all it requires is removing the term enlisted from the templates and replacing it with the dates of service (Service Start: and Service End: work quite nicely) or some other term that encompasses all ranks. Using the term "enlisted" as a catchall is simply incorrect.
{{Veteran Recognition}} uses start-year and end-year as elements passed in, and just served from xxx to xxx on display

Mexican American War uses enlisted and discharged, less that 100 profiles would need to be corrected

US C W (and holdovers from US Civil War use enlisted and mustered, with about 6500 profiles that would be to be corrected/checked

Spanish American War uses enlisted and discharged with less than 50 profiles to be changed

World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War are all determined by position, so no changes required to profile

and of course, the templates themselves would have to be changed to say something different, but end-service and start-service is ambiguous..   is that for entire time in the service, or was it for the war?  a 20 year vet serving from 1965 to 1985 may have only been in vietnam 1 year, so on {{Vietnam War}} do we put 1965 and 1985 or 1966 and 1967?   

See how much fun you can have when you start talking about implementation and not just what if? :>
No profiles need to be changed.

Never mind, I suppose they would have to be if you changed the templates that require input. It's just irksome to the wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, and mother of military personnel, both officers and enlisted. The result will be that I don't use those particular templates on the ones who were officers.

the template call on the profile is

{{US C W
| enlisted = mmm dd, yyyy
| mustered = mm dd, yyyy
| side = CSA or USA
| regiment flag = image file
| regiment name = regiment name}}

if you are going to make a fuss about the output, you should also make a fuss about the input, which should be changed to something similar to

{{US C W
| service start date = mmm dd, yyyy
| service end date= mm dd, yyyy
| side = CSA or USA
| regiment flag = image file
| regiment name = regiment name}}

The changes suggested by Deb and Gaile, might be in the too hard basket, in that there are too many factors, attached to too many profiles, that would need changing, but I think we should be mindful that part of our honour code says that "we care about accuracy" and that should apply to all aspects of WikiTree including templates and stickers.
John, I don't think you understand ... besides, Deb was the one who suggested the change - I only chimed in to agree with her (and am an interested party as the wife of a retired Air Force fighter pilot whose 26 years of service included 196 combat missions over Vietnam, and descendant of several people who served in the military).

Currently the template causes the word "Enlisted dd-mmm-yyyy" on the profile.  Deb correctly pointed out that officers did NOT "enlist" - instead, they were commissioned.  If the word "Enlisted" is changed to something like "Service began" or "Joined" or "Started" that would make it correct for everyone.  This wording is part of the boiler plate built into the template - the only change needed is a simple word substitution in the template code.

EDITED TO ADD:  Better yet, it would be even simpler to just say "from dd-mmm-yyyy" and "to dd-mmm-yyyy"
and as I am trying to point out...

changing the template to display different verbiage is simple, done in 1 place (per template), but also needs to be correct in how it reads.... if it is for World War II, and person was in the service from 1935 to 1955, displaying Pvt Smith served in World War II from 1935 to 1955 implies that the war was at least 20 years long.

and the other point is every profile that has these profile EXPLICITLY has |enlisted=  |discharged= and while they do not REQUIRE being changed, if you argue that to be correct we need to change the display, it also stands to reason that we correct the input to be correct in that as well
Apologies, if I've misinterpreted anyone.

Perhaps as Gaile has suggested just having dates from to, or something like Served 1941-1946, would avoid having to state whether they enlisted, were commissioned or were drafted and that detail could be explained in the bio?
+5 votes

I edited Template:Immigrant to add the option to omit the second flag, which works for the second flag but not the first. Can you edit the sticker container template to work the same for the first flag?

Leaving just

| origin-flag =

currently results in the default text of "[[Image:|50x50px]]" but leaving

| destination-flag =

does not add anything to the template (which is good).


Note: See original answer here:  This one has been edited to just address requested change to Template:Sticker

by Liz Shifflett G2G6 Pilot (466k points)
edited by Liz Shifflett

Does the name have to change from "Migrating Ancestor" to "Immigrant"? If the name could stay the same, it would be super easy to just change the template (although the placement would still be above == Biography ==).

If the name Migrating Ancestor stays, then there would be no need to think up a new name for "Nonmigrating Ancestor"

note - this comment radically changed. See for what it looked like originally.

Good point, Liz.  Not all "migrating ancestors" actually became immigrants. Some died in transit, and sometimes their biographies contain rich accounts of their travails during their trip.
+6 votes

Reviewing the proposed rules in search of clarity and lack of ambiguity....

1. Definition of a "Contributor." Definition is in: "Profile Stickers can be placed on any profile on which they are appropriate by any contributor to the profile. In this context, "contributor" means anyone who is on the Trusted List and has been following changes and/or contributing to the profile."

Is this intended to mean that a profile sticker can only be added (or removed) by (1) someone who is on the trusted list and has been following or contributing? Or is it intended to mean a sticker can be added by (2) someone who is on the Trusted List or someone who has been following changes and contributing?

2. Maximum number per profile.

Is the limit of 5 stickers on a profile intended to apply to the sum total of project templates and stickers, or could a a profile with 2 project templates have 5 stickers in addition to those two templates?

I think my preference would be for the limit of 5 to apply to the sum of project templates and stickers. However, I could be convinced otherwise. And I think that the length of the profile should be a factor -- in general, a long and detailed profile could have more boxes and stickers than a short one.

by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)

2) I would vote for 2 project boxes plus 5 stickers together below
== Biography ==

BUT would it be ok to have additional stickers used elsewhere in the bio?

edit -

Oops. I was envisioning the 5 stickers together to the right of the Contents listing, but for that to happen they need to be ABOVE
== Biography ==  

So. I think I need to comment on that rule (not having sticker boxes above Biography).

Thanks, Ellen! I tweaked the wording on Help:Stickers to clarify these points.
+6 votes
Can the location be either above or below the Biography headline? I think the stickers look great lined up to the right of the Contents... not so much lined up in a block to the right of the Biography text. Or is the requirement to be below the Biography headline because of mobile display?
by Liz Shifflett G2G6 Pilot (466k points)
Hi Liz. How they appear on mobile devices is important to remember. Good point. Keeping them below the Biography headline is partially about clarity of purpose. They "support and decorate the biography" so they should not come before it.
+12 votes

Is it possible there can be a requirement for images in templates to use alt text?

I am blind and currently my screen reader program is not picking up on any alt text for the images on the example profile. (For example, one of the flag images is read as 'Image flag-1.png' or something similar. Ideally it should have an alt text of "French Flag" or something so the screen reader knows what to call it.) If an image does not have alt text, the screen reader often just reads the file name instead and it's rather jarring.

by Kristen Louca G2G6 Mach 2 (29.2k points)
That's an important suggestion, Kristen. I hope it can be implemented.
I don't think it's something that could be automatically programmed into Template:Immigrant. Maybe it could be for a template with limited choices (such as the US History template).

I'm not skilled enough with variables to know if an alt-text variable could be added to accompany image variables used in the template, but even if it could be, that would rely on people filling it in correctly.

I looked at the image page & don't see a way to attach alt text to it. Would that be something that could - technically - be added to the page for the image & "travel" with the image wherever it was used? (i.e., an "alt-text" box on where you could enter "Flag of France")
I'm not sure how the templates work, but alt text is added in at the image code level. So something like img src="file.gif" alt="French Flag", etc. If it was somehow hardcoded in there to ensure if someone chose a French flag, the appropriate alt text was added ... that'd be great.

I figure if there are pre-built images inn the templates, template builders can probably ensure alt text added into the template itself.
Kristen - could you check the template for Rex Example's migration from Canada to the USA on

I must have copied someone's code when I created the Migrating Ancestor template, because it names the flag in the caption. If that's what is read, then that's the solution.

for coders, it was:

<td>[[Image:{{{origin-flag|Flags-23.jpg}}}|50px|Flag of {{{origin|an unknown location}}}]]</td>
I probably mislabeled where the flag is named... I called it a caption, but it appears in what I think is called a Tool Tip.
dang. I tried to edit that coding into Template:Immigrant but that's not an option - the image coding is done at the Template:Sticker level.
Yep - that example works as how I would expect it to. Screen reader reads, for example, "Image Flag of Canada".

Alt text = tooltip = text that is read out when you hover your mouse over the image. This text, for screen reading programs, is read out on images. I'm not sure if perhaps a default alt text can be added in just in case someone doesn't add a caption.
Thanks Kristen! I'll keep researching it to see what we can do to make this happen.

Cheers, Liz
ps The possibilities I'm looking at now... would default text of "describe the image" be ok? I was looking at that default text as another way to let people know what to fill in for the variable.
"Describe the Image" sounds like a good default text to sort of nudge them to fill it in. It's also better than it defaulting to nothing and then having to listento the unhelpful name of the image file. Heh. Thanks!
Hi Kristen.

It's a good point, thank you. I don't believe this will be easy to implement, but we'll check. If it is we'll put it as a recommendation in the style guide.

If we can't have alt text, we will put in the style guide that the image should not be used to communicate information.

+7 votes
I'd like to ask that the language and imagery in these boxes be neutral and factual.

I have a number of Puritan ancestors who were involved  in the Great Swamp Massacre and the Turners Falls Massacre.  These were vicious genocidal battles, in which civilians -- elders, children, everyone -- were deliberately and usually viciously killed.   (Yes, I know both sides were vicious in King Philips war.  Doesn't help.)

Some time ago, I came across a profile of an officer who had been given a Killed In Action template for -- supposedly -- dying in the Great Swamp Massacre.  He certainly served in that action, and one has to wonder just how responsible he was for chasing old people and kids into a dry swamp and then setting fire to the place.  BIG BIG WINCE.  And the KIA template in use was all about honor, etc., with a pretty ribbon.

Now, he in fact died several months after, so I simply took the template off the profile with the note that he can't have been KIA.

But -- it's one thing to say a person received a particular honor, or died in action, or died of wounds. That's a fact.  It's another to ascribe honor *to* them, when that might be arguable.

Hitler's Waffen SS troops died in action just as US and British WWII troops did.  I think we need a KIA sticker that can be put on either without blushing or wincing.
by Patricia Hawkins G2G6 Mach 2 (29.6k points)

Good points, Patricia.

I've wondered about how the Military and War Projects handle these questions. I'm sure they have policies but I don't know what they are; no doubt there are a lot of conflicts.

A pressure release valve built into the style guide is the policy on removing Stickers. Essentially, any interested party can remove them. It says:

"Stickers can be removed by any contributor to the profile. They should not be added back without communicating with this contributor.

"Stickers should not be included if any contributor does not want them there."

if a person was Killed, Wounded, etc in the service of their country, it is not up to YOU to decide if they deserve to be recognized based on your perceptions of their actions.

they fought for their country in the time and moral standards of their surroundings. political correctness has no place in genealogy.

that being said....

as to you "fixing" of the person who could not have died in the great swamp massacre, looking back for people it appears you are talking about Michael Pierce [[Pierce-299]], going back over the change log, he was in the category as Killed in Action in King Philip's War, which you removed, and the biography still states he was KIA in King Philip's War, and his date of death is within the range of that war.  while the bio may have had incorrect information about him being at or killed in the Great Swamp Massacre on 19 Dec 1675 (which was part of King Philip's War), whether he was there or not has nothing to do with him being killed in action on 26 Mar 1676

Since there appears to be more than enough documentation to support it, I have put the KIA information back onto his profile

Hi, I think you may have missed the discussion of the fictionalized, unsourced nature of Michael Pierce's biography; it's based on a known fraudulent genealogy by Frederick Clifton Pierce. There's a link to that from the "Categories" section on the profile -- or
just see

There's a link under that to the work done by the Wikitree member also named Michael Pierce.  I'd tried to encourage the present-day Michael to modify the profile based on his well-researched, well-documented work, and am sorry to see that he hasn't, since he felt fairly passionately about the fraud, and I thought he was itching to set the thing straight.

Guess I need to add that cleanup to my queue....

There's no record of how the historic Michael Pierce died; he is not known to have died in action, or of wounds. His death does not coincide with any known action.

FC Pierce was likely writing romantic genealogic history for profit - it was an era when there was quite a market for such genealogies. He took a death date and elaborated around it; this was a typical strategy.

Given the level of proof we try to require on Wikitree for parentage, birth, death, etc., I don't think we can say he was KIA.  I wouldn't have removed the category if I'd thought there was any kind of evidence for it.

I agree that we shouldn't pass judgment on honors awarded or earned during a person's lifetime.  I have no problem with showing images of those awards themselves.   

But when I say we shouldn't pass judgment, IMO we should not report those awards in a negative OR positive way.  They're facts; we should report them as facts.  Wikitree should not be in the position of deciding whether a soldier died "gloriously" or
"ingloriously" depending on which side that soldier died on.

I wince to see that an ancestor died in the Great Swamp Massacre; you may think the same ancestor died gloriously.  The Wikitree notice of that death should be something that you and I would both agree to.  (I seem to recall a far fancier KIA badge than the one you've used, btw.)

yes, I saw the fraud comments, books by him were in 1880, 1882, 1888, and 1889.

lists incorrect items

1. Michael Pierce’s father was not Richard, James, or Azrikam. 2. His brothers were not William, John, Richard, or Robert. 3. Michael Pierce was related to Thomas Pierce of Charlestown, Massachusetts, but how they were related is unknown. Testing of Michael and Thomas’s descendants show shared DNA. 4. Michael Pierce did not have a middle name or initial. This one is not really the fault of FC Pierce except in perhaps an indirect way. 5. Deacon Mial Pierce was the son of Ephraim Pierce and Hannah Holbrook. He was not the son of Ephraim Pierce Jr. and Mary Low. 6. Judith Round’s maiden name was not Ellis.

this profile does not list father or siblings, so 1, 2 are covered, no middle initial so 4 is out.deacon mial pierce is not a child, so 5 is out no mention of Judith round, so no problem

you keep going back to him not dying in the great swamp massacre, nothing on the profile says he did.

one of the references for kia 26 mar 1676 is new England historical and genealogical register from jan 1853, 30 years before the fraudulent books.

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