Is it okay to be discourteous in G2G?

+58 votes

No. :)

Lately, there seems to be an increase in our forum of questions, answers and comments that are negative and discourteous.

This is not okay.

Our Honor Code applies to the G2G as much as it does to the rest of WikiTree, including private messages.  This forum is not a free-for-all where anything goes. 

We want to steer clear of anything that is negative towards another member. This includes drawing attention to any specific mistakes they may have made (intentional or not).  It also includes making negative, discourteous remarks towards or about other members.

It's fine to disagree, in fact, sometimes it is inevitable.  But we need to do our best to stay focused on the issues and not on the individuals.

If you feel like you can't post something appropriate and courteous then please do not post anything! :)  Don't WikiTree (including G2Ging) While Angry. Walk away and come back and post when you can be polite. 

If you walk away and come back and still can't be polite, do not post anything. :)  Go through the steps here:  Someone else can help resolve the situation.  

This includes sarcasm.  This isn't the place for it.  

We try hard when moderating to not censor what people say unless absolutely necessary and maybe we've gone a little too easy on this in the past.  But there's been too much inappropriate posting lately and this is not something we can tolerate.

Please help us keep the G2G a friendly place. 


in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.9m points)
yup understood
Nicely said!
I think I'm probably guilty of contributing a sarcastic remark to a recent G2G thread, so if I prompted all or part of this post, my sincere apology to anyone who was offended.  Reprimand acknowledged, and I will try harder to clean up my act in the future.

14 Answers

+15 votes
Best answer
THANK YOU Eowyn. In your usual eloquent and charming way you have hit the nail squarely on the head, and I agree 1000%

I have cringed a few times recently with some of the things that have been posted. One or two mixed emotions forthcoming from reading them, sadness and anger being foremost. Our G2G forum should be warm and inviting and have a helpful atmosphere if we are to prosper from the knowledge and expertise of others, whilst aiding those who are just starting out and need a little guidance. We certainly don't need a war zone, there are already way too many of those in this world. Anger is like muddy shoes, leave them at the door or don't come in. Besides being a public forum, Wikitree does have some younger members, who are budding future genealogists, and who should be nurtured and guided. We should be leading by example not waging war!!

Just my *2 cents* with apologies if I have become a little too outspoken.
by Wendy Sullivan G2G6 Pilot (149k points)
selected by Juliet Wills
Wendy, being a Newbie to Wikitree but an experienced Family Historian, and as of yesterday new to G2G forum, with your warm and friendly answer, with the best suggestions to help especially those new to Wikitree, I invite your help and answers for me anytime. SAID LIKE A TRUE TEACHER!
+23 votes
Agreed. Intentional sarcasm is easy to spot but accidental sarcasm seems to happen when many different minds understand words differently... just in case, though I've tried to be careful, I apologize if at any time my words have been understood to be sarcastic. Just saying...try to give your cousins the benefit of the doubt, most of us are loving souls!
by Dorothy Coakley G2G6 Pilot (174k points)
Accidental sarcasm. Happens to me!
+16 votes
I've noticed far less frequent -1's, and more communication that may show where something was incorrect, but it's indicated in a conversational way.
by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)
+21 votes
A million times YES Eowyn!! If you can't say anything nice/constructive then don't say anything at all. ;)
by NJ Penny G2G6 Pilot (146k points)
yup understood
+24 votes
Discourtesy and personal attacks are never okay in G2G or anywhere else. However, Eowyn, it is worth considering why these posts are occurring. Are these posts a result of considerable frustration about issues that have never been resolved? A lack of transparency about decisions made within projects, and leaders who do not respond adequately to emails, if at all, can feed that frustration. I accept that everyone here is a volunteer. However, when I see that a member has deleted much of his valuable work from free space pages related to a project, it makes me incredibly sad. It is easy to remind members about courtesy rules and to pretend there is no dissent; it is more difficult to examine the reasons for this dissent and discourtesy.
by Fiona McMichael G2G6 Pilot (176k points)
To be clear, we are not, especially not me, attempting to pretend there is no dissent.  Having said that, there are appropriate ways to express frustration and there are steps in place to follow to bring situations to our attention so that they can be examined.
Yeah witnessed some cases just like this recently Fiona, and it is sad too bare witness on someone getting completely and utterly made uncomfortable, or harassed from a consistent and relentless ongoing source, that is not even upset  but completely power hungry.
A post script: another member from a different continent has fiddled with the well-sourced profile of my great great grandmother this morning. She took it upon herself to change her name. Through gritted teeth, I politely emailed her and asked her to desist changing my profiles without collaboration. This is the second time she has interfered with my 52 Ancestors profiles and has sucked out the joy I had for this project. I'd be thrilled if she added some sources or extra information. If she does this a third time, I will be reporting her.
+21 votes
Thanks for this Eowyn. A beacon of light as always. Principals before personalities.

Onwards and upwards! :-)
by Anonymous Anonymous G2G6 Pilot (247k points)
+18 votes
Thank you, dear Eowyn!
Excellent points, particularly with regard to sarcasm not being of much positive value at WikiTree. Maintaining a respectful G2G community makes a big difference to everyone here.
by Cynthia Larson G2G6 Pilot (171k points)
Thanks - it really does!
+25 votes
Fully agree - 100%!

I try hard not to bring others down, and do my best to look for the silver lining in every cloud. Sometimes it's a bit hard to find and it's much easier to just complain about the rain, but it's amazing how I look back and someone who started off here early on as an "oh my... I don't think they're getting it" becomes a superstar over time and someone I wouldn't mind following and learning from later on. I LOVE it when that happens, so I look at everyone as potential superstars and believe it should be our goal to help others achieve their greatness.

Now I need to get off my soap box...
by Scott Fulkerson G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
What an awesome perspective, Scott :)
Agreed everyone has different lifestyles and upbringings concerning they're "original culture" and "worldviews". But although we have different stories and heritage, "WE ALL BLEED THE SAME BLOOD"
That's a pretty awesome soapbox you've got there, Scott! Step up on it any time. :-)
Scott, you've always been cool with a newbie like me. Always appreciated, man. =D

*Looks at Troy's post*

Must not make Batman v Superman reference....
Ahhh I forgot they stole my quote. haha someone  tells me that everytime I say it.

Well, they did steal all the color from the DC universe, too for a time.....
That's an awesome way to look at things Scott! You really never know how a plant is going to grow from seeing the sprout.
+18 votes

This includes drawing attention to any specific mistakes they may have made

They say that somebody who never made a mistake never made anything.  There's also the one about making omelettes and breaking eggs.

Mistakes are inevitable.  We all make them.  Sometimes very silly and embarrassing mistakes.  It doesn't make us bad people. 

We need to understand that mentioning a mistake isn't a personal criticism.  It's just an essential part of the wiki process.

Over at Wikipedia and Wikidata they firmly believe that data quaility is ensured by having many pairs of eyes.  But it doesn't work if they're blind eyes.

In reality, in some areas, too many blind eyes are turned and too much junk goes unfixed.  A major inhibiting factor is that people don't want to seem to be denigrating the efforts of previous editors.  But the people in charge can't afford to regard that as a good thing.  They'll have to work out how to overcome it, if they don't want their product to go downhill.



by Anonymous Horace G2G6 Pilot (570k points)
RJ -

There are ways to create quality without humiliation.

What Eowyn is referring to is when people intentionally call out another member because of a disagreement or mistake. This never goes well.

If a person's only motive for posting on G2G is to shame someone for something they've done, then the post is not appropriate or productive.

If a person's only motive is to learn the correct way to do something OR teach the correct way to do something, then please do that! Just don't point fingers and lay blame.
But you can't shame anybody over something that isn't shameful.

Somebody has to have a go, or nothing gets done at all.  If it's not perfect first time, that's what wikis are all about.  Your aim is to move the job along.

You'll probably make a mistake of some kind somewhere.  So what?  The guy who points it out would probably have made two.  But he didn't do the job, did he, your contribution is still way ahead of his.  And in any case, you don't care what he thinks.  So mentally tell him where to stick it - then thank him for his help.  Because your mistake won't be out there any longer.
Hi RJ, I respectfully disagree with the idea that you can't shame someone for doing something that isn't shameful.

As a Greeter, I will often hear from new members who feel shamed when they receive public comments, usually instructing them not to do something. The comments usually contain a couple of phrases that go something like this: "as a signer of the Honor Code, you agreed to..." and "In the future, I would request that you...." This is enough to drive people away. I know I only hear from a few of them.

As Greeters, we are constantly borrowing each other's ideas when we see a nicely phrased message. Maybe all of us need more concrete examples of courteous and kind ways to help fellow WikiTreers as they learn to collaborate. Or maybe just refresh ourselves by reading the help page about courtesy: (I hadn't read it in a while before this thread.)

I find that it helps a lot when public comments are limited to straight factual information, and if anything else is necessary, it is sent as a private message.
Nicely said, Carole!
We should add 2 clauses to the Honor Code

1 - I will not throw the Honor Code at people

2 - I understand and expect that I'll get the Honor Code thrown at me like everybody else.  (And every other variety of schoolyard behaviour)
Excellent points!
+15 votes
Me? Sarcastic?! NEVER! *Every sarcasm detector in a five block radius explodes*


Okay, I see your point. No one needs to be jerks here. We all have common ground here and we all have common goals. Build the best tree ever with the most correct information ever.

I try to be as polite as possible. I will, however, crack jokes. I hope that's okay.

Sarcasm should be used like a fine instrument. No need to ban it outright. I say warn people if feelings are hurt. We are all adults. There is a language code here and there's a time and place.

Bottom line is to not be jerks. If someone has an issue with something bring it up to the mods. That comes from experience.

And let's not forget that the Internet is forever. Anything negative you say here will be discovered by future descendants. Creepy as that sounds. It's true.  Ape people could be reading this right now thousands of years in the future.

So, best not to be jerks. Sarcasm is fine, but, like a WMD it needs to be used as a deterrent.
by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (531k points)
I agree with this. Sarcasm is part of my being and I try to "keep it in my head" (a technique we taught our "on the spectrum" child.) Sometimes it leaks out a bit and it can even be used without an intention to shame or humiliate, but as an ice breaker or a bit of humor.
Great, just what we need. More sarcasm. {Hint: This is sarcasm.}
+13 votes
When I say that I am glad to see this, that is genuine appreciation.
by Richard Shelley G2G6 Pilot (222k points)
I am too
+2 votes
A related question.  Should people be discouraged from pursuing fantasy lines?

They might have wasted too much time already.  But if they carry on, they'll waste more.  Writing profiles whose inevitable future is to get disposed of one way or another.

But if told, they might take it as a personal criticism of their work.

So what's kinder?
by Anonymous Horace G2G6 Pilot (570k points)
No one is suggesting not addressing and correcting problems, RJ, only to do it appropriately.
Because a lot of junk doesn't get called out.  On G2G and in the Ranger feeds.

Either people think it's kinder to say nothing, or they just leave it to somebody else.

I'm in the leave-it-to-somebody-else camp.  I don't think it's kinder, but it's too risky to stick your neck out.
+5 votes
I'll probably be in bother for this, but apparently, it's reported that sarcasm has been banned in North Korea.
by Anonymous Horace G2G6 Pilot (570k points)
edited by Anonymous Horace
+6 votes
Sometimes many seem to forget that not all on WikiTree are native English speakers. I had to look up the word discourteous because the word I relate to is rude, as in being rude to someone.

I know that I sometimes are perceived as funny because of my choosing of words or phrases that someone who "lived the language" would not have used. Most probably I also have been unintentionally discourteous  (or sarcastic) just trying to make myself understood (I know I have some downvotes for example and I don't intentionally try to be rude).
by Maggie Andersson G2G6 Pilot (138k points)
You have a very good point there Maggie. Wikitree members are from across the globe, and not every country is English speaking, but we use English on our forum. I am sure many members use a translator at some point or another, (I know I would if the forum was in a different language), but as good as they are, sometimes the phrasing comes out differently to what a native English speaker would expect, and the same in reverse.

A little more understanding is all that is needed :)

Related questions

+6 votes
7 answers
+7 votes
5 answers
+9 votes
3 answers
+20 votes
1 answer
1.2k views asked Feb 20 in Policy and Style by Lois Tilton G2G6 Pilot (139k points)
+2 votes
1 answer
+8 votes
1 answer
134 views asked Dec 17, 2017 in WikiTree Tech by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (632k points)
+19 votes
2 answers
298 views asked Oct 11, 2017 in WikiTree Tech by Keith Hathaway G2G6 Pilot (607k points)
+3 votes
0 answers
139 views asked Nov 18, 2021 in The Tree House by Kristina Adams G2G6 Pilot (246k points)

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

disclaimer - terms - copyright