Modifying a profile that doesn't appear to be maintained actively

+3 votes
135 views

I have sources and information on a profile and when I went to the profile to contact the manager it appears it was imported in 2011 and someone else cleaned up the bio in 2016. Should I contact the profile manager before I make major changes or can I assume it isn't being maintained and can be edited as long as I state why I am making the changes?

WikiTree profile: Josiah Gordon Scurlock
in WikiTree Help by Michelle Spalding G2G3 (3.9k points)
The profile manager appears to be active, even if not on that particular profile.  Try sending them a PM and see if they respond.  :)
Yes, I did go ahead and do that.
It's a fairly complete profile, so if it hadn't been just copied off of some website, I would say tread lightly. Since it's not an original work by the editor and was just copied off of some website, though, I would say replacing it with almost any well sourced material would be preferable.
It's also a pretty clear copyright violation, so from a legal standpoint, it should probably go.
Ben, can you clarify are you stating, or speculating, that the bio was copied?  And if so, would it not be sufficient to wrap quotes around it and attribute it properly?

It's a complete copy of the entire Find a Grave entry. Fair use is pretty difficult to extend to a complete copy, no matter how short it is. It should also be cited in a useful way. Just giving the FaG username of the purported author is not especially adequate "(bio by: Mindseer) ". I'm not even 100% sure that it's original with FaG. FaG also will automatically generate citations, so there's no reason not to just use the citation they give. Copy-paste. 

Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 04 December 2018), memorial page for Josiah Gordon “Doc” Scurlock (11 Jan 1850–25 Jul 1929), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8108073, citing Eastland City Cemetery, Eastland, Eastland County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .

Thanks.  Good point that it might not be original to FaG, and I would not assume it is.

I like the handy FaG citation.  They even highlight the whole thing for you with a single click anywhere on it.  I paste them in the sources, then remove the annoying space before the final period, then replace 'Find A Grave Memorial no. xxxxxxx' with the FindAGrave template.  I usually add a brief note about whether the memorial has images or other sources, complete dates or just years on the headstone, etc.
These sorts of near plagiarisms are always pretty easy to spot from the quality of the writing. I have a feeling this "Mindseer" copied this from somewhere else, but I'm not coming up with it. My guess is that it's probably ripped off from some historical pamphlet or something of that nature. It has that sort of timbre to it.
Earliest (2000) reference I can find is on https://www.ancestry.com/boards/surnames.scurlock/61.79.83.84.123/mb.ashx which attributes it to the cemetery website. It certainly predates the FaG entry, so that's where it was ripped off from, but I'm sure the cemetery website ganked it from someone else.

1 Answer

+5 votes
I think it depends on what you plan to change.  To edit things like spelling out the states or adding valid primary sources, I don't think you need to ask.  Be sure to fill in the Explain your changes field.  If you plan to rewrite the text, you should definitely make contact first.
by Herbert Tardy G2G6 Pilot (580k points)

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