Changes to our conflict escalation process

+30 votes

Hi WikiTreers,

I've spent the past two weeks working with other team members and Project Leaders to improve our conflict escalation procedures.

I think our basic Problems with Members process is very good. It sometimes leads to "Mentor Intervention Requests" (MIRs) and the help of volunteer Mentors.

In the years before we had the process and mentoring, there were far more little misunderstandings that snowballed into big problems. Now, for a large website where thousands of strangers collaborate on an emotional topic, we have remarkably few serious conflicts.

A recent reminder for me of what Mentors do for our community was in the Member of the Week interview with David Douglass where he wrote:

"When I first started as a new member I made all kind of mistakes including the worst of all, creating lots of profiles without sources and creating duplicate profiles.  A very knowledgeable leader/mentor gently turned me around and once I started doing things the WikiTree way I found that my profiles looked better, were more accurate and my research skills improved because a mentor cared enough to help me."

David is now a terrific member. He actually co-leads the Magna Carta Project, which is really high-level work. If it weren't for his mentor (it was the amazing Robin Lee) he might have been driven away and our community would be poorer for having lost him.

So, we have not been messing with the Problems with Members page or the work of Mentors. We set out to improve upon what happens when mentoring fails, when a problem has to escalate further because of a persistent problem or a serious conflict.

In the past most of these stickier problems went straight to the team. We were short-circuiting the ability of the volunteer community to solve these problems and turn things around before account closure.

Under the planned changes, there will always be a step between failed mentoring and escalation to the team: Formal Mediation. We had this step before but it was seldom used for various reasons.

These changes are not final. As most of you know, we have an open process for developing new policies here. Everyone in the community should have a chance to voice their opinions. That's what I'm inviting here.

If you're interested, see these pages:

Most of those pages aren't new. They have just been changed, sometimes in small ways.

I realize that for most members, this is all "inside baseball" stuff. That is, it's more than you're interested to know. Most members never get into serious conflicts so none of this matters. But I think most everyone wants to know that their account would not be closed without good cause.

If you have input on any of this, please post here. Thanks!

Onward and upward,


in The Tree House by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Thanks, Chris.

Other than a step between failed mentoring and escalation to Team, could you please list the other changes?

I've read the attachments, but I can't tell what the changes are. Thanks.

7 Answers

+21 votes
Best answer
My hat is off to the Wikitree mentors and to the Team Members and Project Leaders who are making this important resource even more effective.  Every member involved in the Mentor Project deserves a Gold Star and a Wonderful Wikitreer award.  Not to take anything away from all the great things that other Projects are doing here in Wikitree but I'm convinced their sometimes un-heralded and behind the scenes efforts are one reason why WIkitree is becoming the online community you want to a member of if you are interested in doing "real" genealogy.   Wikitree, can be a challenge to some in the beginning who are not used to "coding" or having a unfamiliar way of doing things, including our (brilliant) "collaborative" one profile per person family tree.  It's the mentor whose patient instruction and guidence makes that transition into WIkitree successful.  Wikitree would not be the same community without the Mentor Project.
by David Douglass G2G6 Pilot (116k points)
selected by Susan Laursen
Thank you for recognizing our Mentors, David! I am grateful for them every day!
Hats off to David D.

Your research skills are above reproach. Your clear and well thought out writings are easy to follow and are well documented. I smile everytime I see you post on a profile because I know it is correct!
+22 votes
Thanks very much for this update Chris and Team.

by Mags Gaulden G2G6 Pilot (535k points)
+22 votes
Fine job!  I cannot believe I read all of it at one sitting.  (Short attention span & all)  Once again, this makes me feel so very secure in knowing that ALL WikiTreers are treated fairly.  Thank you Chris and the Team for all your hard work on these processes and documents.
by Cindy Lesure G2G6 Pilot (112k points)
+21 votes
Thank you for the update and improvements, Chris and team.
by David Selman G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
+19 votes
Thank you, Chris. It's always good to know that the team works on improving processes like this as WikiTree grows larger.
by Nan Starjak G2G6 Pilot (264k points)
+10 votes
Thanks for this Chris. I know it's taken a lot of work, and it's really clear and easy to follow.

by Olivia McCabe G2G6 Pilot (245k points)
+8 votes
Thank you for your hard work and improvements in the forms.  I think it's going to make it much easier on all of us now
by Mel Lambert G2G6 Mach 3 (31.6k points)

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