Can I add a living non-family member under the new rules?

+8 votes

I have a close friend whose family I am about to start working on.  I would like to start by adding her to WikiTree, then inviting her to join (it will be easier for her to click on the message to accept than to have to start by joining), but I don't remember whether the new privacy rules prohibit us from adding a living non-relative.  THANX.

EDITED:  I am becoming frustrated by responses that do not provide the specific policy on adding profiles for unrelated and living persons.  I have, therefore, added tags for leaders and sysops - hoping a leader might know what the policy is, if there is one and hoping that management will address the question and make a policy if there is none yet.

in Policy and Style by Gaile Connolly G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
edited by Gaile Connolly

This is just an opinion so I not answering.

I personally don't see why you wouldn't be able to add them. I'd say if they're planning on becoming a wiki Genealogist that it would be fine for you to send them an invite to the account you created. I've done this before the GDPR however your question does make sense. One could argue that everyone is "family" or related somehow Alas, I would refer to a part on the Honor Code.

We respect privacy. We privacy-protect anything we think our family members might not want public. If that's not enough for someone, we delete their personal information.

I also like a point that is brought out in the Legal Genealogist  which would say "inform people who provide information about their families how it may be used, observing any conditions they impose and respecting any reservations they may express regarding the use of particular items;"

p.s. This is probably a side note that should be added to the GDPR_FAQ for clarification.


Not that it matters, I don't know whether she'll become an active working member here, but since I will be adding her family from a big box of genealogy information that has been passed into her care, I would like to make her profile manager of all of them ... she may never do anything on WikiTree herself, but she would be able to receive notice of profile activity.  Maybe when she sees all the info I can dig up about her family or if she starts getting contacts from new-found cousins, she'll get bitten by the genealogy bug ... who knows?

The point is that I seem to vaguely remember something about only entering living people who are relatives in all the discussions about gdpr and my question is asking for clarification on WikiTree policy on adding living people to whom we are NOT related.

Yeah I'm not sure what's the guiding principle on this issue. I hope some more people speak up with an opinion and a general consensus. Perhaps it might be beneficial to get some leader thoughts.

8 Answers

+9 votes
Best answer

Gaile --

Yes, you can add a profile for your friend. All that's required is her name. You don't have to enter any dates. Instead, select "Blank for Extra Privacy."

When you enter her email address, she'll get an email with a link that will take her directly to her Nav Page, and she'll be asked to agree to the Privacy Policy. Her profile will have a privacy setting of Private w/ Public Family Tree.

Here's what she'll see:

A strong suggestion: If you are bringing someone in like this, and they intend to be an active member, please make sure they get links to the new member tutorials:

I hope that answers your question.

by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (430k points)
selected by Louis Heyman

Thank you Julie!  Finally, a definitive answer!!!

I have just added my friend's profile and invited her to join.  I also now added the first family profile for her - it's her great grandfather Nels Johnson, who is obviously not yet connected to her because of the missing people in the generations in between, but I'll get there soon.

+4 votes
by Ros Haywood G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
Ros, that page does not answer my question.
+3 votes


The privacy page has been updated here:

It specifically talks about living family members but also mentions having explicit permission to share information on WikiTree on a living person. I would proceed with caution. 

However I do have a suggestion. I have a friend who thinks her father’s lines connect to the Perrys of Rhode Island and the Lees of Virginia. I have a private tree for her on Ancestry trying to work out all the misinformation on the trees there regarding her family’s connections with proper sourcing. I also have her mother’s lines in place. My hope is to connect one of her lines to one already in place here on WT. That way I can just bring the lines down to her grandparents or parents (all deceased) and add her with her permission.

So in short, I would start a private tree somewhere for your friend. Try to find a line that might connect to the big tree here. Then work down from that line adding in the profiles that lead to her.

(Edit for typos although there are probably more lurking...)

by Erin Klein G2G6 Mach 2 (24.2k points)
edited by Erin Klein

Erin, thank you for trying, but that link also does not address the subject of my question, which is whether we are permitted to add living people who are NOT our relatives.

I am also not asking for advice about other websites that could be used for this.  I happen to have my own genealogy site (custom designed and developed by me personally) if I want to do that.

I will be adding my friend's family right here on WikiTree and my friend will become a member of WikiTree, if only a non-contributing family member.  The answer to my question - if I ever get one - will only determine HOW she becomes a member - whether I add her and then invite her (which would be the easiest way for her) or whether she needs to come to WikiTree and join.

+5 votes
My interpretation of the new rule is that you can go ahead and create a profile for your friend, but it must be unlisted since she is a living non-member.  That would mean that she could not see her own profile until becoming a member.  I don't know whether it means she would also not see an invitation to join (that presumably originates from the profile) or whether a family membership counts as a full membership that would permit her to change the privacy level.  Why not just give it a try and let us know what happens?
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (477k points)
THANX, Dennis.  I realize - and fully expect - that if I create a profile for her, it will be unlisted until she accepts the invitation to join.  Seems like the invitation to join is automatically generated upon entering an email address in a profile, so she should receive that email without a problem and when she accepts, it should automatically change her profile from unlisted to private - or at least give her some kind of message about needing to change it.  I'm sure a family member can edit their own privacy level - I can't imagine even a guest member not having full control of their own profile.

The reason I don't want to just give it a try is that if it is something we're not supposed to do under the new rules, I don't want to violate them.  As I commented on Dale's answer, I'm looking for an answer that is not the "interpretation" of you, me, Dale, or any other ordinary member - nor a leader, for that matter.  This gdpr stuff is serious business and the ramifications of doing anything that would bring down the wrath of the EU on WikiTree is something that has (or certainly has good reason to have) management quaking in their boots.  Under these circumstances, I'm near paranoid about being careful to stay well within the rules they established for their margin of safety.
but if you don't want an answer from either an ordinary user, nor from a leader, then who else does that leave??

No one can answer your question then.
+5 votes
Gaile, I do not think it is prohibited but from what you are saying she is aware that you would be entering her and will probably become a member at a later date so I do believe that you would be fine in entering her. We enter living non relatives to the projects like the notables with no expectation that they would ever join themselves. The biggest drawback to you entering her information would be no one else would be able to see the profile unless she joins and you would be stuck with it on your watchlist.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.6m points)
Good Point. I agree
Point well taken about relatives of Notables, Dale, and I agree that if I didn't think it's an OK thing to do - specifically because she will become a member, if only a family member - then I wouldn't have asked about doing it in the first place.  My concern, though, is whether it is in accordance with new policy - if not, I don't want to do it.

It's probably going to take someone higher than our pay grade here to make a definitive statement about whether this is allowed or prohibited, though.
+2 votes

This is probably the most relevant help page for your question, Gaile:

Presumably you would only add bare-minimum information (name and email address; and mark as living!), so any privacy concerns would also be minimal.

However, this page should be updated to clarify that our invitation process is post-GDPR compliant.

edit: added italicized text

by Lindy Jones G2G6 Pilot (232k points)
THANX, Lindy, but I think all the help page links that have been given in answers here are equally non-relevant.  I'm not asking for help about how to add an unrelated profile or about how to invite someone to join WikiTree by adding their profile and including their email address.

By the way, the "bare-minimum" information has to include one more item than you mentioned - the person's birth date because at least one date is required in order to add a new profile.

ALL the help pages should be updated to provide advice that is compliant with the new gdpr driven privacy rules here.  The reason I asked this question is that they either have information that is not compliant with the new rules or do not attempt to address the impact of the new rules at all.

I wasn't sure if a date was required to invite living individuals (I don't use that procedure), so I didn't include that.

As you state, this and other corporate-level policies (meaning such updates are the responsibility of WikiTree ownership, not of membership) need to be updated at least to indicate that they are current and post-GDPR compliant.

+1 vote
Dear Gaile,

If I was wanting to add a new non-family living person to Wikitree, I would add the closest non-living member (usually grandparents but may also be parents) that they have, get that persons profile connected to the global tree and then Email the friend and have her join so she can connect herself to her relative who has passed and whose profile should currently be OPEN.

There is No rule that says you cannot do things this way.
by Robynne Lozier G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
THANX Robynne, but that's not the way I'm planning to do this.  I am going to put myself in my friend's shoes - I'll start from her profile and work back (and sideways and then down from there) from her, as a new member would do.  She has a whole box of genealogy info, which I plan to start with - I haven't seen the info yet, but assume it's unsourced so I'll start by finding sources in order to build profiles.

My question is only about whether it's OK for me to start by adding her profile and inviting her to join or whether she needs to come here and join on her own and then make me co-manager of her profile so that I can do everything for her, since she's not interested in doing any genealogy work at the moment.
+2 votes
If you would like an answer from a Leader, why not email info@?
by Ros Haywood G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)

Ros, please see my comment on Dennis' answer, that says:

I'm looking for an answer that is not the "interpretation" of you, me, Dale, or any other ordinary member - nor a leader, for that matter.  This gdpr stuff is serious business and the ramifications of doing anything that would bring down the wrath of the EU on WikiTree is something that has (or certainly has good reason to have) management quaking in their boots. 

I do not expect a leader to know the answer, although is possible that one might, since they keep a closer watch on everything than most members and have their own communications group.  Emailing info @ is not a way to communicate with leaders, although that would get the attention of management, from whom I believe the response is needed.

I posted this in G2G because (a) it is not of either an urgent or private nature and (b) a definitive answer needs to be disseminated widely to membership.  Since the only responses have been either not responsive or member opinions that it should be OK to do, I'm starting to re-think my choice and am going to edit the tags to seek attention from management, who needs to make this kind of decision, as well as leaders, who might know if there is a specific policy regarding this issue.

Hey, it was just a suggestion.  I was trying to help. sad

I know Ros and I do appreciate your efforts, as well as those of everyone else who tried to help here.  Please excuse me if I was unintentionally less than gracious.  I was getting very frustrated by lack of an absolute answer by someone who actually has the knowledge of WikiTree's policy.
Who do you want an answer from? You have ruled out members, leaders and info@. Maybe you should just send your question directly as a private message to one of the powers-that-be if you are not satisfied with the suggestions being made here.

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