Is the gedcom system counterproductive?

+21 votes
This profile was created by hand, one of the tiny twigs on my tree and only added because he was so interesting. He had a narrative biography with inline citations for the vitals and a brief amount of content from secondary sources. He was tidy! One day his heirs would come along. That's just happened via a gedcom and the profile turned into a mess. Information was repeated in chunks at the bottom without sources and it's taken a couple of hours to tidy it up and figure out the new bits. Not my fault, nor that of the new member who knows a lot more about this man than I do. Several other related profiles also need tidying. This gedcom system is creating more work.
WikiTree profile: Walter Medhurst
in Policy and Style by C. Mackinnon G2G6 Pilot (340k points)

3 Answers

+6 votes
Best answer
I have just deleted my GEDCOM. Obviously there are problems. The only changes which I knowingly made to Walter Medhurst were done manually. As his biographer I have a lot more changes yet to add. These will not be done via the GEDCOM
by Anthony Holliday G2G Crew (860 points)
selected by Juha Soini
+28 votes
It seems to be a great weakness within the WikiTree system.

What it is doing is saving time for (usually) newcomers and allowing them to add profiles quickly with no editing, analysis of existing data,  or collaboration at all. Their time saved becomes time spent by others,such as you, who sort it all out later.

It may be better for newcomers to learn to enter profiles or new information by collaborating with other WikiTree members and by adding sources etc in the styles WikiTree suggests. Gedcom uploads seem to bypass these important areas.
by Joe Farler G2G6 Pilot (152k points)
I so totally agree with you Joe!!

I did a lot of reading when I first found wikitree and one of the first things I learned from G2G is not to upload a gedcom. They simply created too many problems.

So I created all my family tree profiles myself. They have stood the test of time and I am very proud of my part of the global tree.
So did I. After seeing what gedcoms did I chose to enter all my profiles one at a time rather than by uploading a gedcom.  The advantage was that I got to check every profile as I entered them, correcting errors in my original tree.  It gave me an opportunity to review all my profiles one at a time, build a new research plan identifying what data was missing and validating every comment in the biographies.  I’ve been on WikiTree for about 12 months, joined a number of projects, help with Data Doctors, Sourcerers etc and learnt a lot as I went.  I’ve always been grateful that I didn’t go the gedcom route when I see the gedcom messes I clean up for Data Doctors etc.

My recommendation would be to prevent gedcom uploads. I’ve worked professionally in data cleansing and database management and the saying “Garbage in, garbage out” is so true. We have some awesome people working hard to get clean quality profiles. If we can prevent the rubbish being bulk loaded into WikiTree there will be more time for quality research rather than spending it on cleaning up.  A lot of the messy profiles come in with newbies, and I was one too.  When I look at some of my early profiles I cringe, and fix them. If I’d uploaded my original database via gedcom, I’d still be cleaning up that mess.  As it is the profiles I created might not be finished but at least I know that what limited information in them is correct, or has a Research Notes section to qualify any questions regarding the profile.

It’s much easier to learn the way WikiTree works doing profiles individually from scratch rather than by cleaning messy frustrating gedcom garbage.
Here, Here, Deborah, I so totally agree with you too!!
What Deborah said. I did one gedcom upload and won’t do it again. Fortunately, it was a small one. Here’s just too much clean up to do afterwards. It was good just for the experience, but it’s better to create and source one profile st a time.

I'm finding the same. One person is inserting GEDCOM junk to profiles I manage and some I don't manage but are key people in my family line.  So I can't even look at a report to see what's been changed unless I go to their own changes pages and go through every change there. 

I'm also finding edits in profiles where this is the only thing they added:

Ancestors of Interest: @SUB1@.

The person's own profile was created years ago but it looks like they just started using wikitree sometime in in the past couple months. 

I don't want to see all my work go to the dog and I don't want to have to chase down errors that could easily have been prevented by disallowing GECOM loads. 

I have very limited time to work here. I'd like that time to be spent on meaningful work and not cleaning up messes on profiles on which I worked hours to make beautiful, sourced and useful to both the community and to my own family.

Edited to add:  It reminds me of wikipedia graffiti but in this case, I think they're adding these codes to profiles to use as a search method.

Perhaps they should discover what categories are.
+9 votes

One thig here I would like to point out to folks who have their Profiles changed in a manner they do not care for.  On the Profile in question, go to the Changes tab and look through the listed changes where the first change was made that you disagree with.  On the top of the page you will see restore data as it was on Date Stamp. which should be the last time a change was made you agree with.  Click on that and BINGO, back to the way it was with no muss nor fuss.  This restore function can be done all the way back to the date of the creation of the Profile.  Thank you Chris for foreseeing this problem and having a built in solution.

Now to GEDCOMs.  Not for everybody and I totally agree that newbies not be permitted to upload large gedcom files until they understand the Rules and Policies on Proper Profile creation.  I believe there should be a requirement based on those for Pre-1500 Profiles.  Some thing in my experience I have sadly come to believe.

Also please remember as an Open Site where everyone is welcome, of which I believe in, not everyone who joins is going to be knowledgeable in all aspects of genealogical research and the display of their research.  Heaven knows my earlier gedcom file imports were far from perfect and I am spending a great deal of time repairing my earlier efforts.  Of course, these were under the old gedcom import tool that more easily permitted data dumping.  The new GEDOMpare is a vastly superior tool, if you understand some of the niceties involved in Adding a new Profile or editing an existing Profile.

Timer just went off and need to get the rolls out of the oven.  :)

by LJ Russell G2G6 Pilot (221k points)
Must point out that there was nothing wrong with newcomer's work but mostly it repeated what was already there in unsourced lumps at the end of the profile. We are being encouraged to write narrative biographies with inline citations (my preference, I like a good read) but the gedcom system cannot do anything like that. In such a biography new information has to be slotted in together with the source, if it isn't new information it's just a waste of space. This is going to keep happening. Newcomers might well know their material but learning Wikitree takes time.

Yes, I understand, I looked at the Profile in question to see the changes made.  Again, using the Changes Tab and looking through the Previous Changes till you get to the one you accept, then click on restore and this save you all of the retyping and or deleting of any additions you feel should be removed for any reason.  It can be a very powerful tool.  Plus, if there is something they added you liked, you can always go through the Previous Changes and cut and paste that item from there.

This is why newbies should go over the hints on this page on proper GEDCOMpare usage. GEDCOMpare Primer   You may want to send it to folks you run across who may need help.  Point out the hint on communicating before editing an existing Profile.  Most folks need just a gentle nudge to set them straight and help them to be a better WikiTreer.

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