How to relate to private famiies

+8 votes
Why do private files exist on this site?  I thought the reason for going on Wikitree was to expand and collaborate your ancestry.  I've ran into 23 family members that are private....and very under sourced from the private side.  Any suggestion?
in WikiTree Help by Paul Mason G2G2 (2.6k points)
retagged by Robin Lee

I have now Had a chance to consider the impact of what wikitree has done to living persons by making them private.  

I think we now need to reconsider what WikiTree is all about.  If this is a place to store your own private tree then yes these records will be valuable.  If this is a place to have a connected tree for all to see then these private records have no use or place in WikiTree and they should be removed and not just hidden.  

Before the changes I had all my living records as being able to see the tree which was useful to searches and has in the past given rise to additional contacts by people searching.  

The vast number of Private records that now come up in match searches is very frustrating.  

There are other free resources for people to construct their own private trees with living people and I believe that if we are not going to make public the name of the individual together with their tree connections for living people then the fully private  records should be deleted.    

I have tried to find some subsquent discussion/ moving forward on the temporary fix that was applied but failed.  

If we are not going to expose these records again then I believe we should delete them.  

If this is too drastic an action to take then the search and matching processes should all be changed to ignore these records.  

So, what do you do with GEDCOM data from your downloads since you can neither update nor replace?
Tne use of a gedcom to update individual  records is in my opinion not very efficient and updates should be done direct in WikiTree.  

If the living records are not converted to a public record ie rhe person passed away, then when you leave wikiTree say on your  own death  then  those records get deleted any way unless you have moved them to another manager

2 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer
It must be that people who come from other sites where they own their entire family tree and can have it private, come to WT with the same philosophy. They just have to be educated about how WT works and the benefits of having other genealogists working on improving "their" profiles.

I find it very frustrating when I see a PM with lots of private (already dead) profiles, that have spelling errors to their names and/or place names, who has not been active on WT for a time. If I file an unresponsive manager request, the private profiles will be deleted and lost for ever, when all they really need is a small fix to name spelling and maybe a cleanup of the bio.

Another problem is the myriad of people named Living Unknown. I have been doing some merging on such a family (from the 1800's) and continue with the research taking my time, but it is something we have to live with trying to fix the errors people made when WT was a more relaxed site and lacked the necessary rules.
by Juha Soini G2G6 Pilot (121k points)
selected by Paul Mason
Thank you Paul.
But if you file an Unresponsive Profile Manager request, all those deceased profiles won't get deleted.  They'll swell the ranks of the Orphaned Profiles.

Ros. They will be orphaned only if they are open or public. Private profiles can not be orphaned whether dead or not.

I recently spent a couple of days rebuilding a family that is mostly private with multiple incorrect spellings of LNAB. No other way to correct the LNAB's but file an unresponsive manager request after failing to make contact with PM.

Thanks for this link, Juha. I was unsure about that (what happened to private profiles when an account was closed). Good to know.
+10 votes
Most of what you are seeing is the result of the new EU rules on privacy...see


Anyone living now has to be unlisted on Wikitree unless they are a member, so, yes, it is difficult right now to collaborate on people who are living.
by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (881k points)

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