New Rule Suggestion (Draft) : Do we need a “Bot” to monitor profiles set to PRIVATE?

+4 votes

This is a follow-up to my question posed on 12-Dec-18 titled “Problem with privacy setting for deceased people” (

I’m asking this question because I have tried with great effort to not create duplicate profiles, yet often do.  The problem becomes obvious during a GEDCOM import.  During import, the program flags suggested matches.   I know I reviewed every profile when importing the GEDCOM.  I review it again when adding my approved GEDCOM to WikiTree.  At the execution point of adding my profile, I again have a suggested duplicate list to review, and at that point, do I add it; or again; stop execution!  The problem is not my review, but the lack of being able to review fields that are critical to my execution.  Fields are hidden from my view by a profile manually upgraded to PRIVATE.

The problem

A profile setting of “PRIVATE” prevents me from viewing the suggested matches, specifically, key data fields like Dates, or Locations, or a Tree.  We all agree these are needed to confirm or reject a match.  Unsure, I reject the match, so the program creates rejected matches, that later should be reviewed.  This again leads to the same result, No-Go (hidden fields) keeping me from executing.  The Rule holds true for every possible user suggested duplicate merge.  Without seeing critical fields, should I attempt to notify a profile manager (of every possible duplication) without my seeing any real details (from hidden fields)?  We are all too busy in our daily lives to send, or review every vague request.  WikiTree should help us make good decisions.  Help us remove barriers of hiding things from view when they are critical to our decision making and therefore efficient execution.  To this end I propose a New Rule.


What is being discussed here is to have a “Utility Bot” run and catch PRIVATE profiles who do not meet the rule (below), and reduce from the highest level “Red”, (PRIVATE) to a lower privacy level “Yellow”(Private with public tree).   This “yellow” setting, allows for living members to remain hidden and no Bio information will be displayed.  Any attempt by a user to select a profile as PRIVATE “RED”, will immediately see a warning message (or a pop-up) stating that rules apply for this setting and warned not to provide any personal information they do not want others to see .  A profile set to private, may under certain circumstances be changed automatically due to utility maintenance.   Upon execution, any changed profiles (by the utility program) will execute an email that will be sent to the profile manager to advise them of immediate action required to review the profile for privacy concerns.  This change was executed as part of the rules of WikiTree, and per your acceptance of putting your information on this known, publically shared, collaborative website called WikiTree.

The proposed New Rule

By default, the status of any profile cannot be set to private unless the person is living.  Any DNA test attached to any and all profiles, is also by default to be shared regardless of privacy policy.

1)      The”Death Date”/ living box is selected (and / or)

2)      The birth date is more than 100 years from current date. (4 generations)!

How would this effect what we currently see?

By enabling this rule, all fields will be viewable so matching and merging can once again take place on the fly.  No living peoples Bio’s could be seen as set by this “Yellow” privacy level, nor would other family members be seen if set to yellow.  This would include DNA that may be hidden because the person is no longer a member, or was never a member of WikiTree.  If this is sensitive information that is no longer to be shared, it should be removed per the warning statement of privacy rules.

Please vote this up or down so this rule can be reviewed by staff and implemented. 

I will answer both and vote up or down to show your approval.  Regardless, a vote ofyes or no will show the importance of this proposed rule change, and whether or not we the users fell it should be implemented.  Thank you for any consideration, and please add comments if you feel I missed any important issues.

WikiTree profile: Kirt Fetterling
in The Tree House by Kirt Fetterling G2G6 Mach 1 (13.7k points)
We already discussed this very topic in the recent past and it was decided on born more than 150/ died more than 100. I can't see that changing anytime soon.

From your other thread.

It's not always about control.  Sometimes it really IS about privacy considerations to the LIVING.  Neither of your answer options allow for that.

My father is coming up to the 100 years ago born of your suggestion.  I have his profile set to green, but NOT because of control.  It's because he has living offspring who are not part of wikitree.  Same with my Mother.  Same with their parents.  I don't want their profiles forced to open without one speck of concern for me and my siblings and cousins.  I can, however, understand why some would prefer a deeper level of privacy within the currently allowed 150 years (birth) or 100 years (death).  I long debated that before finally choosing green.

Anything outside those parameters and there definitely should not be any red-locked profiles in the 150/100 years.

Please don't take this out of context, BUT

What if you and I are cousins?  How would I know?  Are we not to connect to one tree.  Please test this, Revise your privacy setting to yellow and see what it does (view the public tab) in order to see what the public sees.  Isn't that locked down enough?  Change it back after you see what I see.  

In all honesty, why did you put yourself on a public tree and not a private one which you can download for free (RootsMagic) anywhere, and therefore share with no one?  I don't want to refer to your personal profile here. Exclude your tree from the equation for the moment.  How can I as a searching person search and connect what I cannot see?  How can I avoid duplication and later having to merge?  I'm not the only one who sees this problem.  Look at the thousands of unmerged matches!.. Duplication is a huge problem.  What is your solution?  This is why I asked WikiTree staff, how do we get to one tree if we hide and therefore do not attach to One Tree?  How many duplicates are acceptable.  By rule ZERO..  

For me personally, my parents are only children, so I have no cousins nor aunt's or uncles.  I have found tens of thousands of relations through DNA and old family records by searching online in this open forum..  I have met many close cousins online in WikiTree because we found each other through our open profiles.  Had the profiles been private, we would never have found one another.  Many old profiles are abandoned, and locked or set to private by a mistake.  They need to be reviewed.  I suggest a Bot, but what is your solution?

I'm sorry you feel the need to restrict everyon's search capabilities because of a personal privacy concern.  Again I ask why a public forum if you want privacy?

No malice intended, just disappointment expressed at restricting my search capabilities on a global level,

I doubt we are cousins, but the privacy levels on my parents should allow enough checking for now.  I have found cousins since signing up here, but NOT because of my privacy levels.  It was through research and stepping out of my "comfort zone" and "cold contacting" people.

I looked at the potential for other "cousins", which is why I chose green privacy levels for the next generation up.  What I currently have on my profile nobody would want to read anyway.  Some of it was frustration at not getting any answers regards the privacy-level settings when I first made an account.  My tree should be accessible, so any potential cousins would be able to work from that.  Anyone creating a duplicate of me, deserves their butt kicked!  cheeky (The world couldn't handle two of me, why would wikitree?!)

3 Answers

+3 votes
Yes to the New Rule (Vote Up)

1)      You have seen the same problem, and you too fully agree with this proposed change.  Private profiles will now be reset to “Open” (Green) and seen if a person is deceased, or one hundred years of age or older. Fully editable by any WikiTree member.  The profile manager could also set to a higher level if they wish.  They will get an email advising them of a status review needed.

2)      We can now more easily confirm or reject matches.

3)      The addition to once again see DNA matches will greatly help me keep on-track and enable me to collaborate and thus connect currently unconnected people.

4)      This is a public website and needs to be open for all to work efficiently.  By public we all know that no private information should be shared on this site.

5)      A mother’s maiden name is no longer safe as a proof of identification.  We agree this information is available to anyone who uses Google, and know this safety concern must be addressed regardless of this change in policy with WikiTree.
by Kirt Fetterling G2G6 Mach 1 (13.7k points)
+2 votes
A vote no means (A vote of up)

1)      I’m afraid that showing my information; or more specifically; my mother’s maiden name will be a security concern.  I have no other option with any institution to make my identification more secure.

2)      What if I don’t see the email regarding the profile change, or the profile manager is not responsive?   Please look at your profile and see if information should be pulled.  If so act.

3)      I have embarrassing things that happened to me or my family members and don’t want them to be seen by anyone.  (Most of us are just trying to see who we are connected too, and not any bio information.  Public records are by definition public, and anyone who uses Google has access to them.) If you have personal information on this public site have it removed.  If it is part of a public record, you have your answer.

4)      I don’t want to share my DNA, I just want the fact I took a test to display here.  (That’s fine, do not add any GEDMatch or test kit ID information).
by Kirt Fetterling G2G6 Mach 1 (13.7k points)
+2 votes

If the current rule is "and it was decided on born more than 150/ died more than 100" then can't we have the bot open these profiles?

I find myself adding comments to profiles asking PM's to do this (so I can edit as a Data Doctor).  Then they don't respond, so I have to Private message them.  Then they don't respond so I have to put in a Trusted list request.  It's so time consuming that it isn't worth the effort of fixing.

This is a straightforward rule that would be easy for a computer to analyze and then do.

by Cindy Cooper G2G6 Pilot (148k points)
I usually find an open profile request gets acted on extremely promptly, no need for a bot.

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