"unknown" in location field flagged as an error

+5 votes

I recently had to divide a conflated profile, and to highlight the fact that a lack of records prevents naming a specific location for life events related to this individual I put "unknown" (without the quotes) in the location field.

My first hint something was amiss was the automated notification that a Data Doctor had edited the profile. Unfortunately, this Data Doctor did not try to communicate before editing and I had to initiate contact with the Data Doctor to determine what was wrong. The response after my explanation was "I should have marked the error as a false error". Well, I would have if I had seen the "suggestion".

The reason I am bringing this up is after another week has passed - the "errors" finally appeared on my suggestion report.

I am curious as to why "unknown" in the location field is being cited as an error. When looking at the "help" topic for locations, there is the statement: "Our guiding principle is the same as the one for Name Fields: "use their conventions instead of ours.""

In the referenced Name Field help topic, Unknown is clearly denoted as an acceptable way to denote the information is truly "unknown".

Shouldn't "unknown" be allowed in the location fields when the profile manager has not just arbitrarily decided to leave the field blank and wants to highlight the fact that no records are extant to define the location(s)?


in Policy and Style by Michael Tyler G2G6 Mach 2 (20.8k points)
....the death place left blank indicates unknown.  You could explain why it is unknown in the biography.  Somebody, somewhere at one time likely knew where but until now that has not been discovered.  Like Jimmy Hoffa!

2 Answers

+7 votes
Best answer
I believe "Unknown" is only used in First Name and Last Name fields, anywhere else would cause a Suggestion.

You didn't provide a profile to review, so I can't make any definite suggestions, but with locations, if you have no idea what continent or country it is, it is best to leave it blank and mark it as uncertain. Then in the biography, you can have details about it being unknown.

If you do have an idea of the location, such as knowing the parents were born or died in the U.S.A. for example, you could put the location as "United States of America" and still mark it as uncertain, as well as details in the biography about it being a guess based on the parents information.

Even the best guess at location (continent, country, state/province, etc.) is better than nothing if we can add it, since this helps with finding/preventing duplicates.

It's not uncommon for Data Doctors to fix errors on profiles all over our global tree and many of them are as speedy as lightning! DDs also have challenges to fix certain errors every week and tools to make that easier. Don't take it personally.

Remember that DDs are looking to improve profiles, Open profiles are that way so that we can all collaborate, Communication is important, but not requires for minor fixes to data issues. If assuming positive intent, then we are all working toward the same goal.


Here is a link to all the errors that can show up in a Suggestion report, link goes to Location. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Project:Data_Doctors#600_Location

You can always look up an error here, or click on it in the Suggestion report for more information.

There are 3 errors regarding "wrong word in location," but they basically say the same thing. "If the location is not know, location field should be empty.
by Allison Mackler G2G6 Mach 5 (52.0k points)
edited by Allison Mackler
Thanks for the comments, but I still think it important for  the Help topics to be revised to reflect the desired information format, especially when no specific reference to what information placed in the location field is going to trigger an "error" suggestion.

With all of the concern for cooperation and communication from the mainstream participants, seems like the DD people are above the standard on some items.
+8 votes
Blank is better and you can click the "uncertain" radio button to indicate that it was not left blank in error.
by Natalie Trott G2G6 Pilot (838k points)
Sure this would be a way. But if the date is certain and "just" the location unkown this would be confusing from my point of view.
That is why date and location have different buttons. To cover just such a possibility.

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