Suggested (undoubtedly controversial) Additional Criteria Prior to GEDCOM Add & Edit

+7 votes
176 views

For nearly a couple months, I've been working (off and on) on my GEDCompare Report. I've also dabbled in a lot of other areas on WikiTree. 

I have to say, especially after working with some adopted profiles and engaging in several Data Doctors tasks, I greatly appreciate the length and tedium of the process for "just" adding our GEDCOM from elsewhere to WikiTree: i.e., we cannot do that! By design! smiley

Once you've edited dozens of profiles that are "less than desirable" Gedcom additions never cleaned up or managed by their originator, you better understand the Why of our Gedcom stance.

Once you've sourced a profile lacking real sources, and replaced 1-20 blocks of prior "sources" in that profile that essentially point to zero sources, you better understand ... 

Once you've cleaned up a prior merge that wasn't attended to at the time of merging, you better understand ...

Once you've unsorted someone else's complicated web of an orphaned family with people having multiple spouses of very similar names but significantly different birth years and a bunch of half siblings with birth year range spans of 103 years, you better understand ...

I could go on ... but you likely already understand!

Even with the existing GEDCompare process, lacking profiles get through and will continue to get through no matter what we do. That's okay. It needs to be okay. This is a Wiki after all.

So, what's my suggestion? In addition to needing to first compare all of our Gedcom people with WikiTree profiles and, second, optionally add/edit, one by one, our Gedcom people to WikiTree could we add a requirement that the 'add/edit' process not be possible until some kind of track record exists for the Wiki Genealogist? I probably lean too strict on what the parameters "should" be for this ... so it's likely better others figure this out ... I'd do something like {1 month since account confirmation & 1,000 contributions & 600 G2G points}.

asked in The Tree House by Susan Keil G2G6 Mach 1 (18.7k points)
edited by Susan Keil
I've been trying to work out how to Gedcom to Wiki and I think I'll give up after reading these comments! I have only added 14 of my 1000 ancestors in the 3 years having little time with ailing husband so wanted to add the lot for "safe" keeping. It is very fiddly to do individuals. I started research in 1986 and have sent by tree many times and found it repeated even with errors I have since corrected.

My gt gt grandfather is on but managed by another wiki member so unsure how that works. I have hardly anyone on my tree born after 1920 and am ( with proof) back to 1600s.

Any suggestions ?

Hi Dolly - My two cents (probably worth nothing!) is suggestions for getting your tree more fully represented on WikiTree may relate to how strongly sourced your tree is outside of WikiTree as well as how much overlap you see between your offline tree and individual existing profiles on WikiTree. I'm happy to discuss further if you wish via private messaging. You will also find a lot of discussion on this fiddly topic (I like that description!) as well as good WikiTree Help/Guidance pages throughout the site.

Regarding your gt gt grandfather, if I were you, I would request to be on the profile's trusted list. You'll see a link for doing this when you're positioned on his profile. Once you explain a bit to the current profile manager your interest/relationship to this person, they should give you a bit more access than you may have to his current profile. If the profile is currently open for editing by anyone (including you) you could bypass the trusted list route as you then should be able to update whatever's needed except the last name at birth. It's always a good idea to explain changes made and/or first discuss with the profile manager if making significant changes. Private messages, research notes within the profile's text and/or the profile's bulletin board/comment section are all appropriate places for this documentation/correspondence depending on how you choose to go about things.

Hope this helps!

Many thanks Susan, but I fear it is tooooo fiddly and time consuming for me at present. I shall have to print it off, gather wills and indentures and send to Norfolk record office for safe keeping and hope it is digitalized and put online - sometime in the hopefully not distant future.

5 Answers

–1 vote
The GEDCOMpare utility is already completely useless so we may as well go ahead and cripple it even further. I wonder what or who we will find to blame once nobody ever bothers with GEDCOMs on Wikitree.

Of course we could try to fix our embarrassing GEDCOM short-comings but that might be too controversial.
answered by Bill McCormick G2G6 Mach 3 (30.1k points)
Bill, as you know, many people don't find GEDCompare to be useless, and are using it every day to add records.  Respectfully, would you mind taking the time to enumerate what you find wrong with it, as I honestly don't know.  I do feel there are a number of improvements that would be helpful, but it's already a pretty good tool.

You sound so down on the tool, that you may not wish to help any more, but constructive criticisms with a list of desired improvements accompanied by an appreciation for all the dev work put in so far, is much more likely to be heard and gain results.  To blast away at all the work done so far just makes developers want to give up, completely unappreciated.
Actually, you are the first person I've seen describe GEDCOMpare as useful. Most of what I've read is an endless list of complaints and responses suggesting that the identified problems were designed to make the process frustrating.

I know many users feel that GEDCOMs add many duplicates and unsourced profiles. However, one must remember that these files can and should be handled the same as manually submitted information. I've made suggestions before just to see a chorus of klatchers calling for more restrictions.

In short:

- eliminate the need to pore through an endless list of tenuous 'matches' and allow users to cherry pick the best profiles in their files

- institute a two-tier system to allow for works in progress to be added to our collective base without becoming part of the global tree

- encourage users to see Wikitree as a place to DO genealogy rather than just a repository for finished projects

- prevent incomplete profiles being added to global tree
I too like the GEDCOM aspect and find it very useful. I expressed that in my opening post. I also know many of us are discouraged by what often appears to be the result of people using the GEDCOM process w/o really doing anything else - most likely because they don't know how because they're unfamiliar with WT and how to do things. So, many of them probably just go 'click click click' as fast as they can (just like many do on Ancestry) to get some kind of draft tree of their creation to see on WT. All I was suggesting is someone have some experience (i.e. practice) before they add their Gedcom data. I think with this they would be happier with their end result. Members who joined prior to them may sometimes be happier as well.

Contrary to what you suggest, I am not looking for recognition. You've drastically misunderstood me if you hear me moaning. Klatcher has a rather negative connotation yet it appears several times in this thread. And, I've heard suggestions from foolish users make WT an undesirable place. Good Grief, Bill. How is that message contributing positively to WikiTree?

I had an idea. I posted it. In the most vocal eyes it is not a good one. Maybe in every other user's opinion it is not a good one. I'm fine with that. I said so elsewhere and previously in this thread.
Susan, I am delighted that you feel your post was neither complaintive nor the result of attention-seeking behaviours. Further, your search for positive input is highly laudable and I'm sorry that you find the term 'klatcher' negative.

I expect you will continue to search for solutions to our many problems and post such suggestions as you see fit. In kind, those of us with 'vocal eyes' will respond with our own opinions. Given Wikitree's decision making history this seems a prudent course. Cheers.
+1 vote
Susan, I do support your suggestion, but I don't feel any number is going to work, no number of  months or contributions will help. Those that need work were mostly from the very early years but I have adopted some that have been edited or created very recently that have problems as well, and some of those profiles did not come from a GEDCOM upload. An outright ban of GEDCOM uploads would work but a lot of us who do contribute a lot to help the problems would probably have not joined without having the ability to upload a GEDCOM and I personally would have just given up on WikiTree if even the current restrictions would have been in place when I joined.
answered by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
Thanks, Dale.

I kind of agree that whatever the criteria, it's not going to help a lot. The amount of value added should probably be compared to the difficulty of implementing the added criteria ... if anything is added/changed at all. If it's easy to add, we could start with very low additional criteria and then easily alter the numbers (or eliminate them) later if need be.

Like you, I don't like the idea of banning Gedcoms entirely either. It is an attractive functionality at least for new people considering WikiTree as an outlet for their genealogy work/research/collaboration. I personally would have joined regardless of Gedcom support or not, and don't have issue with meeting criteria before I can add data. (It remains to be seen whether I actually add/edit any profiles from my Gedcom once I get through the initial 'compare' stage.)

It sounds like your take is making any change to the Gedcompare process is zero value added. And, we just need to live with any messes created regardless of the way they're created since, after all, this is a Wiki.

Perhaps you're right.

But, what's our/WikiTree's goal/mission?

To increase/maintain our membership rate? (i.e. not lose any more people than we already do because we don't have a lickedy split way of adding individual Gedcoms to the collaborative tree)

To provide a quality arena for genealogists of all levels to learn and optionally contribute to one collaborative tree?

WikiTree's stated mission is "to grow an accurate single family tree that connects us all and is freely available to us all." (If I could edit away that 2nd 'us' I would ...!)

I speculate that the happy and/or successful (whatever that means to the individual) WikiTree members are those who make contributions and experience the benefits of that plus communicate a bit, all while allowing a bit of time to get used to the platform.

If what a new member wants to do is not go through any more criteria than we already have and prefers to just add their stuff without interacting with anyone ... and then some (or more?) of the time leave (bequeathing us all kinds of private and/or unlisted and/or not-open and/or orphaned profiles, has WikiTree gained anything?

The WikiTree fruits we have today are the result of efforts of happy and/or successful WikiTree members ... I guess I'm not yet convinced that increasing some minimum criteria is going to diminish our mission or the end result. It might do nothing, or it might yield some amount of increased quality and thus add some value.
Susan, You state that you participate with the Data Doctors project. All I will say further on this topic is that the leader who is in charge of that project has stated in the past that without GEDCOM imports he would have never joined WikiTree. Adding more restrictions now would have a diminishing return so I just don't see a real value to doing anything more.
+2 votes
Where do you draw the line as far as authentication goes?

All information and 'sources' are quite arbitrary in that there is no definitive  'True' data that can be said to be "it".

Case in point. BMD documents are used as a reference and considered the "IT" for factual proof. Yet these documents themselves are sometimes incorrect as to spelling of name etc or indecipherable, depending on the human element of input.

So to use GEDCOM, ( a dead duck in my opinion ) with verified ? sources, is in itself a misnomer.

So there has to be an acceptable standard agreed upon, ( the jury is still out on that one depending on which Society you subscribe to ) and , in general, genealogists accept the  prescribed Government or Civil Authority printed record as "IT".

So how does GEDCOM or any other code for that matter, verify that the 'source' is, in fact, a verified source? It can't. The code has not been written for that yet. It relies entirely on the input of the researcher. = human error.

So where do you draw the line please?
answered by Arthur Buckland-Pinnock G2G Crew (530 points)
I'm brainstorming ways to reduce the amount of "junk" we all see on WikiTree, according to our individual definition of "junk". Or, at least reduce the rate at which "junk" is added to WikiTree. The bulk of what I've seen that is junk in my opinion originated from a Gedcom process. And, though I wouldn't mind so much if it went away, I'm not personally advocating getting rid of it.

I'm also not looking for ways to verify sources through a programmed process.

The line I'm trying to draw defines a timepoint when a (new) WikiTree user can unleash their Gedcom data to WikiTree.
Thank you for the clarification Susan.

All understood, I think? So are you suggesting that there should be a peer review of a GEDCOM before it is admitted to WikiTree. Similar to posting scientific research?

So who would be the peers and how many?

Hi Arthur,

Some more clarifications ...

  • So are you suggesting that there should be a peer review of a GEDCOM before it is admitted to WikiTree. Similar to posting scientific research?
    • No
  • So who would be the peers and how many?
    • N/A - I'm not suggesting "peer" anything.

Quoting the opening post:  could we add a requirement that the 'add/edit' process not be possible until some kind of track record exists for the Wiki Genealogist?

So, once someone knows their way around WT a bit and has actually used it, then they can then do what they do with the Gedcom/Gedcompare functionality.

Hi Susan. Right.

Have just spent a couple of hours re reading Wikifiles to update myself on the GEDCOM issue and find that the post -"Should GEDCOM uploads be allowed?" June 6 2017, Robert Haviland ( copy paste didn't work ) seems to answer the question(s).

It also identifies that I should refrain from commenting until I have more Wiki time under my belt. So be it.

Thank you for responding to date. I now bow out and spend more time in educating myself in the Wiki language.

cheers Arthur (NZ)

Armistice day here and it is time to put on the medals of 3 wars and go on parade.
Ah ... no need to bow out on my account. I appreciate our discussion.

Does it really say that we should refrain from commenting on G2G until we have a certain level of seniority?

Enjoy the parade!
Arthur, anyone who says you should not comment on G2G until you gain more experience is quite wrong. How do you gain knowledge without asking questions, or having someone's comment on your G2G contribution help you re-evaluate what you think? I Look at G2G every morning before I start doing anything else, it's where I learned the finer points of Wikitree and it's the place to ask questions. I've been coming here since day 1 and if I'd thought I didn't have the same right as anyone else to comment, I'd have lost interest pretty quickly as I wouldn't have felt included.

On Gedcoms, I've never uploaded a gedcom to Wikitree, only downloaded one - I was enjoying entering the profiles by hand too much, so not having the option initially would not have deterred me.

I think that most of the profiles I see that are problematical are from old gedcoms uploaded before the new system was in place. Then there are the ones that were input by hand without sources and never edited/improved. I came across some from 2012 the other day that had never had an edit.
+3 votes

Well, I’m not sure how to respond, Susan, to you and the commenters. However, let me speak as a Greeter.

In response to Bill’s comment, I cannot tell you have many private messages I receive from new folks who are dismayed when they find out that they are still going to have to add one person at a time after uploading a gedcom. Of course, the way around this is for them just to hit the Add button over and over again until hey are all in. 

The point being: if we eliminate the gedcom experience, new members might quit before contributing. Some people might say: well, let ‘em go. That is an elitist response that defeats the purpose of what we are trying to accomplish here.

I wouldn’t say that the gedcom program is completely useless. I upload small Gedcoms, small families I want to add (one at a time). I don’t have to type in the data, though I have to gut the text area pretty much.

***As to your suggestion, I would refer you to my second paragraph. We don’t want to drive folks away by making it more difficult to get going. However, I completely understand what your saying about the mess that is left behind from gedcom uploads that people don’t take care of right away. I suppose we should just leave it alone for right now.

answered by Pip Sheppard G2G6 Pilot (722k points)

Hi Pip. 

I am not an advocate of eliminating the Gedcom functionality we have. As mentioned in the OP, I appreciate the process and am finding it helpful for polishing my data. I expect I'm in the minority here and am probably not a typical new user, either.

From the perspective of the data cleaning and orphan adopting I like doing, I found myself brainstorming ways to improve the quality of what gets inserted into the tree. And, at that, just at the level of guiding the user to have a bit of experience before their Gedcom data is "in". This would not necessarily lengthen the time before a new user's Gedcom data was part of the tree, but it may give the new user background that would genuinely be useful as they go through WikiTree's Gedcom process. 

You're right, I do not see the "greet the new member" perspective and the volume of messages, complaints, etc. regarding the Gedcom proces. From the perspective I do have, it appears the new members who explore WikiTree by first (and often only) going the Gedcom route contribute and then leave. I don't feel it is elitist or mission defeating for someone to have some experience before making significant contributions to the tree. And, for myself, I don't subscribe to the point of 'had it been that way when I joined, I'd not have joined' stance. I'm of the thought it's okay for things to change, progress, evolve over time such that today's new members have some different/additional requirements over what members initiated however many years ago had.

Maybe the whole Gedcom process is all infinitely better than it was in the past, before I came along, and I have a knack for finding the old pre-improvement Gedcom profiles to clean. If so, that's great! I'll keep cleaning!

I am also seeing that Gedcom controversy may rival Ancestry dot com controversy here on WikiTree... wink ... Doing nothing amidst this kind of controversy is probably the Wiki way to go.

I may not be a new member but our GEDCOM failings have caused me to stop growing my tree here. We see far too many well-intentioned, but foolish, suggestions for 'improvement' which serve only to make Wikitree an undesirable place.

I feel we need to take measures to stop the stagnation and make Wikitree a more vibrant place. Unfortunately, with the lack of resources available, it's much easier to cater to the klatchers and continue to drag this site backwards.
Suggestions make WikiTree an undesirable place? Okay ...

Can you point to some discussions or reviews highlighting WikiTree's stagnation?
Granted I haven’t been here near as long as you, Bill, so I haven’t seen the changes, but I’m here for the long haul. As it is, it’s good enough for me. Truly, I’m sorry that you are so frustrated.
Susan, you’ve got a good attitude about it all.

I know you didn’t suggest we do away with GedCompare. I’m fine with the way it is. I still plan to upload small Gedcoms. I still plan to add the one at a time. And I still will walk new members through the process, hoping they come to love WikiTree and the WT community as much as I do.

You keep on cleaning. I’ll do the same.
Thanks Pip. Sorry if my comment sounds too negative but every now and again I think it is necessary for responsible members to speak up and try to stem the swing towards making Wikitree more and more restrictive. The klatchers are not bad people and probably do not understand the damage they are doing. Time and time again we see them moaning about how hard they work and how the evil GEDCOMs are thwarting their every effort. In truth, they are not really against Geds but are simply using it as a vehicle to scream, "Look at me!! I'm a wonderful Wikitreer". Frankly, I blame the boy scout merit badge system that seems to attract an element who cannot contribute without recognition and endless applause. While my tree may not grow here I am quite happy to lend assistance where I can to those who ask for help in G2G. It's quite satisfying and not at all frustrating even if there are so few of us doing so. </sanctimonious rant> :)
Thanks for this, Bill. I get it. And I commend you’re willingness to provide assistance to those who request it. That is a very satisfying part of WikiTree.

It does seem that WikiTree’s growth has been explosive. Just ask any Greeter! As with any organisation that grows, there are always going to be folks who will see the need to tighten things up. That is hardest on those who have been members for some time. New folks don’t notice it as much. I’ve only been in board since last April, so it is not as evident to me. You, on the other hand, have some years under you belt, so you have seen the changes over a longer period. I have, however, seen this phenomenon in churches in the exact same conditions.

On the face of it, I’d does seem like the same folks helping out on G2G, and I’m glad for those. Sometimes I’m amazed by their expertise and have certainly benefited from their assistance.

On the other hand, here are those who work more behind the scenes, and rarely get recognized for it. Off the top of my head, I think about those in the Categorization Project who rarely get thanked for all of the difficult work they do. Have you ever heard of the Integrators getting public thanks for their work behind the scenes?

Actually, I think that some incentives help folks along. This is true even in the “real” world in industry and business and such. Some people just need that. Some need less recognition. I get embarrassed when anyone brings up how many G2G points I have. It’s only because it is characteristic for me to talk a lot. But I know many, many folks who have far less points who contribute more meat and substantive answers/comments to the discussions and those who regularly post answers to difficult research questions.

Bill, I’m glad you took the time to express your frustrations. Do what satisfies you and forget the rest. What you do does make you an important member of our community. (I certainly read all of your posts!) Thank you for allowing me to respond.
+3 votes
I read through this and I am a little dismayed by some of it - Education is the key and restriction is not going to encourage folks to jump into the education they need to improve their participation - yet I see that perhaps it could be a part of it

Many good WTers here look like they are striving for perfection yet as some point out the chance for errors - either back then when a person was living in the documentation of their life - or later in translation, transcription or now as we gather the bits and pieces to create these profiles -make perfection just not attainable

It is not just the GEDCOMs that bring "junk" to our tree - we have folks entering silly nonsense trees that they found, or thinking that just naming a source but leaving no link, trail or citation to help others find where they got the source for what they add is just fine - quite frustrating and if you try and help them do better they just say WT is too difficult and leave !  

I do not know the answer to the bad profiles we see but I am glad we are all in here trying to fix them all and make the tree better and closer to our vision of what it could be but we just have to keep on and help others and go forward with what we have

Thanks to all who have helped me and left good examples that helped me become a better WTer and I hope everyone keeps trying their best
answered by Navarro Mariott G2G6 Mach 6 (62k points)
Though I didn't use the word 'education' in my original post, I completely agree with you that a significant issue, root cause if you will, lurking around the Gedcom/Gedcompare topics is calling for education. While the way I phrased things may sound like further restrictions, education is a much better concept and would (I expect) address what I was thinking about. If there was some education, onboarding, prior to someone's first Gedcom completion, there might be a difference in the Gedcom user's initial product. Education might include what I suggested (a number of edits on WT in general, communication in G2G, an amount of elapsed time) or it may explicitly exclude those things and be something entirely different.
Exactly - and happily this week I see we have a rollout of a new video for those starting out here - YAY maybe we can all see some improvement is quality of first time folks with this video getting the new folks going right - hope so!

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