A Notable Just Died - How can we tell if his profile is already here, but unlisted?

+20 votes
Philip Roth, author of Portnoy's Complaint, among many other works, just died at age 85.  Before the new rules, we'd look to see if he's already here.  If not, then we'd add him.  In either case, we'd work on his profile.

Now how can we know if adding him would create a duplicate?

(see https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/23/opinions/philip-roth-seymour/index.html)
in Policy and Style by Gaile Connolly G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)

5 Answers

+13 votes
Best answer
Well... this is where things get complicated.

IF he's had a project added either to the trusted list or as manager, then the project should be able to look him up. After that, it's a bit of deductive reasoning.

I can say with at least "some"certainty that he does NOT currently have a profile on WikiTree. There are only 2 Philip Roth's on WikiTree, and neither fit the proper date ranges and both have death dates already. The nearest unlisted profile is a "Rodd" and not a "Roth". I think you should be safe to add him.
by Scott Fulkerson G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
selected by William Arbuthnot of Kittybrewster
THANX, Scott, but I'm not going to add him - I just wanted to raise the question that occurred to me ... we're going to need to figure out a policy of how to cope with these situations now.
Maybe email info@wikitree - they would be able to tell you, add a death date, and open the profile :)
I must confess that I laughed when I first read this. Here we are, anything but amateur researchers, and we can't work around this? OK, he was born in 1933 in Newark, New Jersey (Wikipedia), his father was Herman and his mother Bess which puts them at 81 Summit Avenue in the 1940 Census. Herman's SSI info says he was born in 1901 and there are no Herman Roths born anywhere near 1901 in the Wikitree index, so if we already have him, he is definitely a dangler; not even connected to his parents.
Lots of profiles for notables are "danglers". Lots. Especially the profiles for living ones.
+10 votes
Good point, Gaile. We seem to be seeing quite a turnover of Notable authors, artists and musicians. Sure would like to be able to work on their profiles.

(New answer added by Scott as I was typing for Philip Roth, but the others?)
by Dorothy Coakley G2G6 Pilot (186k points)
Sadly, I'm not convinced there will be an easy answer. Again, IF a project (Notables or otherwise) is added to the proifle, there's a good chance the project can help identify it. And if not, then sometimes the deductive reasoning will help. But we'll have a (for example) spate of William Smith's who pass away (or some similar name) and looking at a list of 15 "unlisted" potential Smith profiles will make it impossible to tell.

Perhaps an Admin will have to sort through that kind of mess, but I'm afraid that some may not look hard enough and duplicates will be created for certain. I suspect we'll have to play a lot of this by ear.
Just send me a message and I'll look :)
Thanks, Jamie- I'll try to start a list of recently passed Notables for you tomorrow. (It being 11:00 PM here.)
Another technique to narrow down whether these notables might be there is to look for their parents. No parents would not prove that the notable does not have a profile, but it might lead to faster identification if they are unlisted.
+10 votes
It's going to be harder to even ascertain if a living or recently passed Notable even has a profile already, or not.

The number of "unlisted profiles" in the search lists has jumped quite considerably!!

We may have to resort to asking in G2G if so-and-so has a profile so that the asker knows whether or not to make one. The PM would have to respond - assuming they are active,.
by Robynne Lozier G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
Wikitree management would know, wouldn't they? They could add a death date and open the profile - it would be simple wouldn't it?
That sounds like the best idea I've heard.

One just needs to announce a death, in G2G, with the source and then wiki-team have to check if there is already a profile, and if there is, add the date of death and leave a llink as an answer to the question.

If there is no current profile, they leave an answer stating that there is no current profile.

It may be a little awkward - but this is a work around that I can live with!!
I agree that it would be a viable workaround for us, Robynne, but what a nightmare for the team - a lot of people die every day!  As my father was fond of saying, "there are people dying today who never died before".
Yes but Gaile - most of those people are NOT NOTABLES!!!

I am mostly only referring to NOTABLES.

If one of your own profiles or notables has died then you add in the death date yourself and so reactivate that profile.

I think the wikiteam would only need to reactivate a profile if the PM didn't do it, was not active or the profile was an orphan.

Most notable profiles are now being placed under various projects (Notables project or Media project for example) so that the project would then need to activate that profile.

We all have to start reading the G2G more diligently and catch the deaths of our own notables - those that we manage at least.

It would also help if people make announcements in the G2G whenever a notable person passes.
Case in point: the profile for Henrik, late husband of the Queen of Denmark, had not been updated since his death (in February) and has now gone Unlisted. The problem is that there are no tools to request access to Unlisted profiles, notify managers that the person is deceased, or anything.

In theory, it is not allowed to keep a deceased person Unlisted, but in practice, the PM just has to not fill in the death date.
+9 votes
For Notables, one way to find the person is to check the wikidata page on Wikipedia. IF the person who set up the Wikitree profile was diligent and added the Wikitree profile number to Wikidata, you can find the profile number there and then ask for that profile to be opened. So, if and when Jimmy Carter dies, we can find his profile number, Carter-1086, at Wikidata.org.

Adding the Wikitree profile number to Wikidata should be required for all living Notables who have Wikipedia articles.
by Vic Watt G2G6 Pilot (361k points)
Someone is going to have to explain what that is and how to do it, because I have no idea!!!
  1. Find the Notable person's Wikipedia article
  2. Follow the link to "Wikidata item" under Tools on the left side of the Wikipedia page - you might need to be on a "real computer" or otherwise make sure you are not looking at the mobile-optimised version of the page
  3. This takes you to a list of machine-readable data about the person (or thing - wikidata is not just for people). Below the section called Statements is a section called Identifiers, above the list of other-language wikipedia articles.
  4. One of these "Identifiers" can be "WikiTree person ID" and you can see the ID or follow the link to the profile (which might be unlisted for living people).
Thanks Scott.
Way too complicated for the average WikiTree user, that would require learning another complicated site.
+3 votes
Hi Gaile,

The team are able to see the Unlisted Profiles. If you e-mail info@ then one of them might be able to check for you.

Susie :-)
by Susie MacLeod G2G6 Pilot (304k points)
How is it legal for you a team of people to see Unlisted Profiles of living individuals?.Doesn't this violate EU Law? If not, why not just add everyone on WikiTree to this team... problem solved.
Hi Bill,

That's why they have to be paid and not volunteers because they are dealing with confidential information. No, it does not violate EU law.


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