Question of the Week: What WikiTree improvements are on your holiday wishlist?

+45 votes
As we are excited to head into our 11th (!) year, we'd love to know what WikiTree improvements are on your holiday wishlist? If you could improve one thing about WikiTree, what would it be?
in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
retagged by Chris Whitten


Three excellent points but first why did I get an email notification that this (your) comment had been added after my comment by Miller Rinehimer?

That name doesn't even appear on this page as far as I can tell. I would post the email notice here but G2G doesn't allow us to cut and paste inside this comment box. Why not is another good question. 

A minor "bug" I realize but I will forward my email notice to you or anyone at WlkiTree who is interested in having the site function  correctly.

Unless someone is an only child and a childless orphan, the only profile on this site that is 100% theirs is - theirs.  If you have siblings they have just as much to say about your parents as you do.  By gen 4 you have 16 profiles, but they may have hundreds of great grandchildren.

I think there needs to be more protection for hard work put in (and probably an ability to revert if it is not there).

As to the 'like it or leave it' debate, I'm not sure that is how it was meant, but seeing as it was heard that way it could have been said better.

We all feel pride of ownership in our work but these are all shared profiles.  A manager should have more ownership over the profiles they own and no matter their stature, the experts maybe need to tread more lightly on the work of newer members.

An excellent comment. I couldn't agree more. Thanks

I personally don't have a problem with first single name fields as I feel this helps prevent people putting incorrect or middle names in without being noticed.

My problem is with Profiles being set up with out some checkable source, as with a GEDCOM import that proves to wrong.

I'm with Melanie in spirit:  "wife of" and "husband of" seem a bit precious in this modern climate.  Back in the day, County Clerks often substituted the words "Consort of" in place of "husband or wife of."  I once thought this quaint and old-fashioned, but now I see it quite differently.  Sometimes the older generations were a little wiser about these things.  I guess they spent more time with their nosees to the grindstone instead of the smartphone.  Anyway, "Consort of" satisfied, as best it could, Melanie's issue (I believe).  Most dictionaries define "consort" as husband, wife, or companion, whether legal or not, and, as Oxford puts it, someone who someone habitually associates with, married or not.  I think its high time we bring that word back.

There is a profound difference between "adding details" and blundering in and making major changes that may or may not be accurate. So far no one has butchered one of my profiles. So far the only changes made have been to add sources and correct typos. As a member of less than two years I already have hundreds of profiles, more senior members obviously have thousands. Over time highly granular details that explain why a conclusion was made that Person X was the grandson of Person Y can get misplaced. No matter how well sourced something is there can still be minor details that tie everything together that can't easily be explained without writing a book. It would be nice to have some level of confidence that some well meaning member won't make wholesale changes to my painstaking work without my knowledge.

Searching for Related Profiles: If would be AWESOME if I could input a particular profile of an individual that is NOT related to me and have it search automatically for all descendants of that individual that are RELATED TO ME, listed by name, dates, and parents (sortable would be even better!).  

Watchlist Suggestions only appear for the profiles where I am profile manager. Please could the suggestions be extended to the profiles where I am on the trusted list as well. At present I have to open each trusted list profile from my Watchlist, then go to the menu for the profile, and click on suggestions to see if there might be something wrong.

I would like to see an easy access list of family ID numbers in my group so I wouldn't have to go back and forth . I can't remember all those numbers
Take Find a Grave  ,differences of profile, out of suggestions.

129 Answers

+52 votes
Best answer
Add the ability to get a profile on your Watch List (and thus get automatic notifications of changes to it) without having to get on the profile's Trusted List. (PM's often fail to respond to requests to get on the Trusted List and it is ridiculously cumbersome to have to go through the Unresponsive Manager process just to get a profile on one's Watch List.)
by Chase Ashley G2G6 Pilot (210k points)
selected by Janie Kimble
Disconnecting Trusted Lists and Watchlists would be difficult. I have thought that the easier thing would be to allow anyone to add themselves to a Trusted List for an Open profile without waiting for approval. But that would change the meaning of Trusted Lists, and there would be issues to address such as how anyone on a Trusted List can see the e-mail addresses of everyone else on the same Trusted List.

I wonder, too, whether it would make it easier to be an unresponsive profile manager, and whether that would lead to even more profile managers who should not be profile managers. Collaboration is hard, but it's what WikiTree is all about. If a profile manager isn't responsive, we need to get them out of that role. So maybe what we need here is to further streamline the UPM process somehow.
It doesn't have to be that difficult. It depends on your definition of "watchlist".

Keep the definition/implementation you have now (but maybe consider renaming it), and just add an additional implementation for a "true watchlist" as a separate feature.

We don't need to be on the Trusted List. We merely want to "watch"/be notified of changes to some list of individual profiles we are in interested in following.
If you ask to join a TL, you accept that your email address will be randomly exposed.  For instance, the PM might orphan the profile and it might be picked up by a random adopter.
I add my voice to those seeking some solution that enables people to watch a profile without having to request Trusted List access.

"Trusted" appears to be most relevant to non Open profiles and have little relevancy to Open ones.

Per Jillaine's and Chris's posts, I think the issue is different with Open profiles than with Private or Public profiles. The key issue with any wiki is protecting pages from being corrupted by inappropriate edits. This is currently a problem with Open profiles because it is easier to go in and make changes to an Open profile than it is to get an Open profile on your Watch List and make sure it is not being corrupted. If I can edit any Open profile (other than LNAB) without a PM's permission (which I think is a good thing), I ought to be able to get any Open profile on my Watch List without a PMs permission. (I note that this mismatch in permissions does not exist with Private or Public profiles, where if you can edit the profile (which is limited to the Trusted List), you automatically have the profile on your Watch List.) 

Although it kind of warps the meaning of "Trusted List," I would personally be fine with Chris's idea of allowing anyone to add themselves to a Trusted List for an Open profile without waiting for approval, even if it meant my email getting shared (although I am not sure why that is necessary - aren't WT private messages enough?). The current requirement to get a PM's permission to get an Open profile on one's Watch List undermines WT's goal of having and maintaining high quality profiles.

Maybe the solution to this quandary would be to create a new method for tracking people who are trusted to do LNAB changes and to see other trusted members' details, and use the watchlist function purely as a watchlist....
This would be great! I found it very confusing that I'd have to add myself to the trusted list (and that the person would have to accept) just to be able to watch for changes.
This is where a "Follow Page" button would work nicely.
Hi Chris,

Your approach to let anyone add themself to the trusted list of open profiles would solve this problem and enhance collaboration.

If possible just hide the display of the e-mail adres on the Privacy Tab. I personally consider a message on my profile, or private message from my profile more appropriate for record purposes than someone using my e-mail to send me a message.

When someone adds himself to the trusted list, he is saying he can be trusted and would make it easier to contact him, which is far better than an edit done just because the profile is open. Also you can then see everyone who has a special interest in a profile.
I wonder if it would be possible to just have a default approval to the trusted list after 30 days (at least for open profiles). Just like there is a default approval for merges after 30 days. That way people can still get on the trusted list for unresponsive profile managers.
I think that the "Trusted List" and a "Watch List" should be two separate concepts.

I agree that the ability to watch a profile I am interested in would be very useful.  There are times when I do want to know what happens to a profile, but I do not want to be or need to be on the Trusted List.  I do not think that watching an open profile should require the approval of the profile manager.  

I think the "Trusted List" is a very different concept and should require the profile owner's approval.  I do not think there should be a default approval to be added to a trusted list because profiles can contain sensitive information for living people.
Default approval for the trusted list could be only for open profiles, because open profile should not include sensitive info. I agree that it would be better to seperate the trusted and watch lists, but WT does not seem willing to do that.

I completely agree with the idea of being able to get a profile on your watchlist without seeking approval. A Watchlist and a Trusted List should not be synonymous, for reasons such as privacy and data integrity.

In most social media applications I can follow a thread just with a simple click. It would be ideal to be able to do that with profiles, which would then provide visibility to when changes are made to the profile.

I see it as a hierarchy:

  1. Profile Managers have the most access - and responsibilities for a profile, and default to being on the watchlist and trusted list (just as today)
  2. Trusted list members have somewhat less access than PMs, and default to being on the watchlist (just as today). They are seen as "trusted" to oversee the profile in addition to the Profile Managers
  3. Watchlist members are notified if changes are made to a profile, but are not made aware of who else is on the watchlist, or the email addresses of those on the trusted list. They have no additional responsibilities or capabilities other than that
  4. WikiTree members not in any of the above categories have the same capabilities as today as far as changes are concerned, and are not notified of changes to profiles
I am confident that having more people being able to watch over changes to profiles will keep WikiTree more accurate. Speaking for myself, being on the Trusted Lists for many profiles has allowed me to spot troubling changes that often suggest a member needs Mentoring, or additional oversight.


+18 votes
Lists for "pending merges waiting for action" sorted by country and also a list for pre-1500 merges would be really great.

Not sure it's the only thing I would like to improve but it's the one I come to think of right now.
by Maggie Andersson G2G6 Pilot (117k points)
Some way to sort merges would be great. I’d like open post-1700 merges to come first on the list. There are so many merges I can’t complete at present.
If you initiate a merge between duplicate profiles, neither of which you manage, it would be great if WikiTree were programmed to send you (the initiator) a message when the 30 day clock expires.
I usually check the merges I have initiated once a week or thereabouts. You can find them through your watchlist.
I was suggesting an "improvement" as the Question of the Week called for. 30 days can be a long time if one is working multiple lines and adding hundreds of profiles. Anything like this suggested reminder which could  be easily automated would, IMO,  be an improvement.
I think I’d agree with you Skip in that I get so busy with other things I forget to check about merges I might have proposed.
+19 votes
There several improvements I’d like to see.

Add narrative reports: ahnentafel and register, for as many generations as you would need.

Add a comprehensive family group sheet report.

Add fields for baptism and burial.
by George Fulton G2G6 Pilot (359k points)
Hi George,

Can you elaborate on what you'd like to see improved about the ahnentafel and family group sheets?

Ahnen list example:

Family group sheet example:

I'm afraid the answer on baptism and burial fields isn't likely to change:


A really neat trick when you turn ahnentafel into binary.
Eliminate the arbitrary 8 generation limit. The report should generate as many generations as the user wants. Eliminate the entries for unknown ancestors, having something like “great grandfather of X” adds no value.

For the family group sheet, use a standard form and add marriage information for the children.

As far as baptismal and burial information, I have followed the g2g discussion of these topics, and simply do not agree with the reasons for not including them, as they are common genealogical facts. Simply stating that the birth is before the baptism date is not good genealogy.


I'm afraid the answer on baptism and burial fields isn't likely to change:

OK, but then you need to CHANGE the suggestions so they do NOT use "before X" as a birth date of X, and "before Y" as a death date of Y.

THAT is the real problem.

Janet, not sure I understand.  If I only have a baptism date, then it makes sense to select "before" and place that baptism date in the field.
I completely agree with George's description of what he wants to see with ahnentafel reports. Great idea, making the number of generations user generated.
Yes ! I think fields for baptisms and burial would be a good thing, as those fields are a part of the profiles on the Family Search website and IMO, WikiTree should include those fields too ! :)
+35 votes
I would love to have baptism and burial fields - because many many English (and other British) records before 1837 recorded only the date of baptism and the date of burial!!
by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (890k points)
Hi Robynne,

How come using the birth/death date field with the before/after status indicator isn't sufficient? I realize there would be some benefit in having a neat and clean data field for the data you're entering. But you need to put them in the bio for a proper citation regardless. The benefit of having the data in the birth/death date and location fields is that we can easily compare it to other birth/death date and location fields. If some profiles have birth dates or birth date estimates, for example, while others have christening dates or baptism dates, it makes it just a bit more complicated to make comparisons.

I agree with Chris, in part. I don't think we need additional data fields for date of baptism and burial. They are not essential facts themselves comparable to birth/death. They are just common and generally very useful surrogates for DOB and DOD when DOB and DOD are not directly established.

Instead of a separate field, how about adding radio button options to the existing DOB and DOD fields to indicate that the date in the field is a baptism or burial (which fact would then get displayed with the date)? These buttons would only be used where DOB and DOD were not directly known. This approach would be consistent with how the issue is typically handled in genealogical materials, where, if date of birth or date of death is not known, the date of baptism or burial is given instead. - John Doe, bpt. 5 Nov 1958, bur. 6 Jun 2010. [Note: I am going to make this a separate suggestion]
I can understand the non comparison between birth/death dates and the baptism/burial dates - but using the before and after designation just looks "untidy" to me.

But if you dont plan on adding them I will stop mentioning it, Thanks for the feedback.

"using the before and after designation just looks "untidy" to me" - Robin, I agree. My new suggestion is to add "bpt." and "bur." options in addition to "before", "after" and "about/uncertain" for the DOB and DOD fields, which you could then use if you have a date of baptism or burial but no other info that more precisely determines the exact DOB or DOD.


I agree with your points!

Chris, one reason "before" and "after" don't work for designating a birth/death date proxy is that the baptism and burial often turn out to have happened on the same day, i.e. NOT before or after the birth or death. The only thing that is strictly accurate in all cases is to label the date correctly. (I like the idea of radio buttons for this.)
Another reason before and after don't work is that the "suggestions" (which used to be called "errors" until the purely semantic change was made in response to the complaints that many were *not* errors) do not have sufficient logic built in to deal with ranges.  That results in "suggestions" that drive "data doctors" to make changes to data that started out perfectly correct.
A new field wouldn't be required, just an extra radio button with baptism/christening date on the birth date field and burial/cremation date on the death field. That way they would still sort the same but it would be clearer. Sometimes I put death date as before a census date if the wife/husband turns up as a widow/er on it. Therefore keep before and after, as they have other uses.
Suggestion reports do handle date ranges exactly as they are defined. The problem with Before and after is that they don't represent the range. They can mean a few days before or 70 years before. Due to such difference in range, I decided to ignore it completely, since they don't mean much. Best solution would be to have a range (from date - to date) or at least (date +- range), but for now I didn't see any plan to implement this.
Why exactly do you need range? If you need some limit, you can can create it yourself by returning only selected count of  rows of result per page and then continue on another page.
+12 votes
Baptism and Burial fields

More ____ Roots projects.

Geni's SmartCopy has this gimmick which shows your relations by project. Like American Revolution soldiers, Filles du roi and all kinds of historical figures. Could Wikitree do something similar?
by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (423k points)
Hi Chris.

Can you expand on what Geni does and why you like it? I'm not familiar with this, and I like the idea.

Categories were supposed to enable this. You can limit a category to the profiles on your Watchlist. But you have to know which category to look in, and I think our extensive sub-categorization creates a problem. I believe it's on our to-do list to overcome this, but even if we can, it might not be user-friendly.

Hey, Chris. Sorry I didn't explain it very well. Here's what Geni does.

Geni has this app called SmartCopy. It basically allows you to copy/paste info from Geni to Ancestry. It doesn't work on this site because of the coding here. SmartCopy also allows you to search for a person on various sites like Find a Grave.

What it also does is when you log into Geni and use SmartCopy, you click the icon and it gives you three options when you go to a profile:

Ancestor Graph

Descendant Graph

History Search.

If you click History search while on a profile, it will then ask how many generations back you want to go and how full the profile's tree is. I usually use mine for reference. If you search at least 7 or more generations back, it will give you a list of profiles which have people in various projects/categories.

Say for example your ancestor fought in the American Revolution. He would be in the American revolution project or the Daughters of the American revolution. Same would apply to stuff like filles du roi and other groups. It basically categorizes all your ancestors so you see who is where. It even tells you what master profiles you have as well.

At the bottom of the list, it drills everyone down.

I have 12 American Revolution patriots, Several Filles du rou etc

It also shows how many ancestors you have in a bar graph and what generations they are in.

I like it because it makes finding people easier. It is user-friendly. Sometimes, though, some profiles that SHOULD be in a project aren't and you have to put them in manually. That gets tedious and annoying really quickly. It's good as it also shows what you have for gaps and what you have per generation. That and master profiles.

It's pretty neat as far as apps go. Hope that explains it. =D What we have is similar. But, everything on geni is on one spot.
+16 votes

I have a couple. The burial/baptism field would be great but my current big ones are:

  1. Compliance with the WC3 Accessibility Standards (WCAG 2.1) to level AA (but even level A would help)
  2. An editor that can make using the <ref></ref> easier (like one of the MediaWiki WYSIWYG add-ons) to make their use less error prone.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (415k points)

Hi Doug,

Can you expand on the accessibility problems you experience?

Regarding the WYSIWYG editing, do me a favor and read this explanation and let me know your thoughts. We did implement a few solutions to make using ref tags easier (the insert citation button, error checking on saves, and in WikiTree+ suggestions reports) but I understand it's still easy to make mistakes.


Doug, after reading through the accessibility standards in 2.1  ( ) I am inclined to agree with your suggestion!
Chris, there are places where the text is difficult to read for people with some types of vision problems. In particular, the light green lettering on the white background and be nearly invisible for some people. The other really bad place is the tags with white letters inside the green background. There isn't enough contrast.  The yellow "G2G Astronaut" is also difficult. Another problem is that there isn't a way to skip past the boilerplate stuff at the top of the page and get directly to the profile information. This is an issue when using screen readers. I haven't tried that here but if you turn off styles you will see the issue.

I should mention that I don't have any of the disabilities that make WT difficult, but I've spent a lot of time over the years dealing with such issues. There are tools that will point out the problems but the WCAG2.1 (see Liz's link) has a good discussion.
After reading the explanation, I understand where you are coming from. A good editor shouldn't add much bloat. Since some even allow restricting which tags can be added, it might not be much of an impact. For example, if  you can't add tags within the block edited within <ref></ref> pairs and only allowed the WT syntax and leave HTML tags out. It might not be possible but would avoid the profiles that are mostly empty until you go to edit them.

Here's an accessibility problem I recently ran into: English Authors and I have seen this done on other pages.

The images used as headings look nice but convey no information to someone using a screen reader. Perhaps there should be a requirement to add descriptive TITLE text to images.

Since the edit box for profiles has no way to embed images, we allow everyone to do it manually with a template found on the image detail page. That template uses the title entered in the Edit Image Details section, but that is not required. If no title info is entered, the information contained in the image becomes inaccessible to people with visual limitations. 

Perhaps the Title data field could be a required field.

Images aren't supposed to be used here the way they are used on that English Authors page. But i agree that if they are used,  there should be an accessible description.
That's what the "alt" attribute to the "img" tag is for.
Bodies of text in profiles with ref tags are much easier to read if you adopt the style I have in the following profile:

Multiple sources for one piece of text are daisy-chained downwards, leaving the text with a space below, due to the line that follows the body of text containing only the first ref tag. The reference itself starts on a new line and the closing tag is on it's own line, with the next opening tag next to it, if there is more than one source for the same body of text.

The body of text still reads exactly the same out of edit mode, when done correctly. I use the preview button extensively when editing, to check it's displaying how I intended.

The only place this doesn't work is on bullet points/indents, when I put the opening tag on the same line as the end of text then put the citation on the next line, to avoid the [1] displaying as separated from the end of the text.

This method makes it a whole lot easier to read and edit.
Working to the standard is important, as it has been devised to better meet the needs of people with a very wide variety of disabilities, and not just sight loss (just asking a few people if they can read something is missing a tonne of issues - and importantly won't reach those who have tried Wikitree and walked away because of access issues).

Having said that, the standard is not the be-all and end-all: it does not say anything about spacing, for example, which can have a big impact.  So yes, so user testing will be needed too.
I agree, Pat. Accessibility is not simple but there are a few simple things that would help those who are differently abled be able to use WT. We have lost a number of people who just can't read what is on the screen. An alternate CSS style sheet could go a long way.  there are some automated tests that will point out some of the problems but end user testing is the only reliable way to validate. I would expect that we could get a number of volunteers to help test. I would volunteer.
+21 votes

Three classes of wishes.

I would like the basic error checking in Wikitree (and in the Suggestions report) to consider the Before / After specifications on dates.  And for the Wikitree error check banner to list the person's name not just the ID.

I would like to see reports that take advantage of our one-world-tree.  Some ideas: (1) an estimate of DNA overlap between two profiles (cM); (2) the average life expectancy of people out to some range of relationships with a given starting profile, (3) or similarly, reports say on average family size, or location, or name patterns.

And finally, as my no-holds-barred wish list, I’d like to see a way to link profiles to some archival census report set, so that we could work towards having one profile linked to each person on a census record.


by Paul Gierszewski G2G6 Mach 4 (48.8k points)
I share the wish for more intelligent interpretation of before and after dates!
GREAT idea about the archival census report!!!
Hi Paul,

What did you mean by a report on "name patterns"? Do you have an example?
+24 votes
1) A printable descendant tree with children horizontal, not vertical as we have now.

2) Descendant reports with sources.

3) Expansion of the Help pages to include further levels.

#1 and #2: Already, my profiles and lines are better on WT than in my old database.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.1m points)
Hi Pip,

I don't suppose you have examples of #1 you can show us?


Hi Chris! Lacking tech abilities can I describe it?

Name of head of family at the top with spouse. Line down to a horizontal line. Under that line, vertical lines down to children and spouses. Vertical lines down from each of them to their children.

I realize that this would take up a lot of space, so it might have to be limited to just two generations of descendants. My FTM program does this, and after a couple of generations, it easily becomes too big for the screen.

Pip, is this something like what you are referring to?

Zactly!! Thanks, Doug!
Ancestry and FamilySearch will do this as well. The one I posted came from MacFamilyTree which has some really great charts. The reports are just OK.
This horizontal display, much like what Ancestry does, is a wonderful idea. Permitting people to switch back and forth between their direct line (what Wikitree currently does) and their lateral relatives would be a real boon to those of us with fairly large trees.  Currently it’s a very convoluted process to look for your great aunt’s nephew’s son-in-law.
Was looking for exactly such a feature. My relatives can contribute only if they can have such an overview - it not only acts as motivation to contribute but triggers a lot of missing link suggestions.
This is exactly what I have been waiting years to see on Wikitree (and asking for it each Christmas). It is such a basic requirement to be able to see siblings, cousins, etc.... with an "aerial overview", and every other site seems to be able to do it, with little connection flags to open other branches when the tree gets too big.
+26 votes
I would love to have a way to 'flag' a profile that I need to come back to, visible only to me but as I add profile and find a source, that reveal 23 children (yes! 23 you are reading that correctly) then I need to both carry on with what I am currently working on but definitely need to come back and add those kids, their wives and their children etc.
by Catherine Trewin G2G6 Mach 1 (11.0k points)

Hi, Catherine,

Do you use personal categories? I have found them extremely useful for keeping tabs on profiles I need to come back to.

Personal Categories

More generally, there should be a way to keep private notes for each profiles and flag profiles as (in your opinion) in good shape, needs work, etc. Wikitree is great for sharing stuff that should be shared, but not good for storing info about profiles that shouldn't be shared.

I don't think Personal Categories would be the best way to do this. Can't everyone see the category label? That could result in cluttered up profiles if everyone used them. Also, their use seems to banned for pre-1700 profiles.
Another option is to go to "My WikiTree" and add them to your scratchpad. OR, just open up notepad and make a text file with the info. I tend toward the second option personally as it has shortcuts, links, and all kinds of things in it.
Hahha I see your 23 and raise you 25...  :)
Oh those poor women

Leigh Anne, I sure hope you meant 'raise you two!'  surprise

+26 votes
Restore the 30-day default approval for merging Open profiles, regardless of the privacy on the other side of the merge (keep the no-default for the non-Open side).

Require at least one estimated date and one location on all new profiles.

Thanks and Merry Christmas!
by Herbert Tardy G2G6 Pilot (597k points)
I agree with Herbert's 2nd wish...except, that in some cases neither are available (I have a lot of family members I have this problem with)...but

I would like to add that if we could get a Christening/Baptism field that would, in many cases give everyone a field or reference that in some cases (probably most cases, except for adult conversions of faith) an idea of a before date that is supported for the birth field...

My reasoning on this...for example, I'm looking for a profile of Elizabeth Wheeler, of which there are 884 (currently when you just search "Elizabeth Wheeler") way to many of these profiles do not have a DOB or a DOD, no spouse, no parents, and no children...but...if when I go to these profiles to see if they might be the Elizabeth Wheeler I'm looking for (so I don't create a duplicate profile), if there was a Christening Date field, it would give me a clue as to who they might be (provided one was entered). In some cases all we have is a christening date, no birth date, so then we are still "guessing"'s very frustrating. (The more profiles there are with one name the more profiles with no clues in them at all, meaning the other night I went through about 50 profiles of Elizabeth Wheelers that had no dates, 20 of them had no clues at all). I'm probably not articulating that well, and it might not even help...but it would still be nice to have that.
T, there is always something available, even if it's a guess.  That's why we have the radio buttons for uncertain, before, etc.  No one ever creates a profile of a person knowing nothing but a name.  There is always a context.  We're already required to provide one source, and a source usually has clues for time and place.  If you have a christening date then you have a pretty good idea where they were born and they were definitely born before that date.  If you know where and when their children were born, you can narrow down their birth enough for a reasonable estimate, if only a 'before.'  If you have one Census record, you have an estimated birth date and place.  For exactly the reasons you describe, anything reasonable you can enter as a date and place is better than leaving it blank.  Pick whichever event is least iffy, and enter it. One semi-good guess at one date and one place.  If you can't do that, you shouldn't be adding the profile.  I don't think that's much of an ask.

"No one ever creates a profile of a person knowing nothing but a name.  There is always a context."

In a perfect world perhaps, but those old gedcom uploads don't always have anything and the links don't work because the accounts were closed, and in many cases the "references" only give a number but not what they item actually is...I've had probably just a many that thankfully, did state what book or where the record was found so I could look for it...

As to context...context that is relative the person who created/uploaded the profile is not necessarily a context that everyone else can recognize. Even in going through the changes tabs, sometimes there is just nothing there to give you a clue where a person came from, who they are suppose to be connected to.

If I remember the next time I come across some, I'll let you know. (Too time consuming looking for them just for this conversation.)

Right.  For the ones already here, we can only do our best to backfill the missing context.  I've worked on a lot of them, so I know what you mean.  The purpose of adding the requirement would be to prevent creating any new context-free profiles.
I completely agree with the suggestion to require at least one estimated date and one location on all new profiles. I have no qualms about using about/uncertain for a date or place when I create a profile where the exact date is not known and I only have a source for baptism/burial or birth/death registration or no source at all apart from knowing they were born before their marriage or their children were born. It would be better if we could enter a range like FamilySearch or enter an estimated date and indicate the likely proximity to the real date.

It should be a minimum requirement to specify a country for birth place or death place in every profile. I hate having long lists of suggested matches to review and then find all of them are people from a different country.

This should also be retrospectively applied on all existing profiles so all profiles which have no birth and death date are flagged as an error and all profiles which have no birth and death place are flagged as an error. Then a few challenges could focus on those flagged profiles to eliminate them. Maybe we can finally get rid of some of these many dubious profiles created from old GEDCOM imports which are just cluttering up WT.
One problem I've run into with specifying at least a country for someone with unknown/uncertain dates is that answering "what country was it then?" is rather hard when you don't know when "then" is. Similarly, sometimes you have a pretty good idea of both when and where, but you don't know which side of the border or which end of the war. Sometimes it's bad enough that I feel like just entering the continent!

I strongly agree with the second point.  Wikitree is full of Ged-junk profiles of people with no context.  These people tend to be at the brickwall ends of individual trees.  Context-free profiles that are just a name (no birth date estimate, no location, no death, no spouse) should be prohibited.  These profiles cannot even be "merged away" because there is no data to determine if the merge is legit. If all you have is a name, then put that info into the biographies of their (sourced) children.  Once proper sourcing is obtained for the parents, then create the profile.

In regards to not being certain about a country for a birth or death place due to shifting borders, etc...

In those cases uncertain should be checked. And honestly, even a continent would help. I understand that one's "German" great-great-grandmother who came over "from the old country" may have been born in Germany, Prussia, Bavaria, [insert other German predecessor nation state], or even Switzerland, Austria, what is now Poland, or Czechia, or France, etc. But all of those places are in Europe!

As a Michigander, I have some ancestors who came here from Canada. Sometimes it's hard to know which kid was born in which country - but I know it's one of those two - a.k.a - that's it's in North America.

And of course, many borders in Africa and Asia have shifted wildly over the past 150 years especially - but I would imagine that many people uncertain about the country are at least certain about the continent. Anything less than just "presumably born and died on Earth" would be heading in the right direction.

+28 votes
Don't add additional data fields for date of baptism and burial, but instead add the ability to indicate that the date in the DOB or DOD field is for baptism or burial. I don't think baptism and burial are essential facts themselves IF DOB and DOD is otherwise directly known with certainty. However, they are commonly used in genealogical materials as surrogates for DOB and DOD where DOB and DOD are not directly known - eg, John Doe, bpt. 5 Nov 1958, bur. 6 Jun 2010. In edit mode, just add buttons for the DOB and DOD fields (in addition to Uncertain, Before, After) so that someone can indicate that the date in the field is for baptism or burial (depending on which field we are talking about). In non-edit mode the date DOB or DOD field would then indicate that the date in that field is for a bpt or burial.
by Chase Ashley G2G6 Pilot (210k points)
edited by Chase Ashley
Interesting approach.
Baptism is a rite of passage for a specific religion/culture. If a data field or new radio button was added it would need to be flexible enough to handle multiple kinds of "soon after birth" rites of passage for different religions and cultures or other events such as birth registration. That would be too complicated. Similarly not everyone gets buried so you would need to handle alternative "soon after death" events.

I don't find baptism/christening dates very useful. I have had cases of baptism on the day of birth and adult baptisms many years later so I basically assume it gives me a range of 0-20 years after birth. I add it to the biography and look for other evidence to narrow down the date.

The options for a date are trying to cover two separate concepts: Certainty and Accuracy and I don't think the current combinations do that very well so I would prefer other options to be provided such as:
(1) Exact - A reliable source provides this exact date for the event.
(2) Approximate Week - Sources indicate the event occurred on this date or during the preceding week.
(3) Approximate Month - Sources indicate the event occurred in this month or the preceding month.
(4) Approximate Quarter - Sources indicate the event occurred in this quarter or the preceding quarter.
(5) Approximate Year - Sources indicate the event occurred in this year or the preceding year.
(6) Approximate Decade - Sources indicate the event occurred in this decade or the preceding decade.
(7) Estimate - The date is guessed/estimated based on other events or there are conflicting sources which cannot be reconciled.
(8) Before this date - The event occurred before this date but a more precise estimate cannot be provided.
(9) After this date - The event occurred after this date but a more precise estimate cannot be provided.
While baptism and burial are certainly not universal, for current WT users, they are by far the most common and most in demand. If bapt and burial were added as options that would not necessarily require that similar options be added for comparable events that are much less in demand by WT's user base.

While baptism occasionally occurs long after birth, in most cases it is a reasonably good indication that DOB occurred within the prior 6 months. In any situation where DOB is unknown and there is reason to believe that baptism occurred long afterwards, one could either just record the date of baptism or try to estimate DOB off of other factors.

Your list of combinations of certainty doesn't cover DOBs based on baptism or DOD's based on date of burial very well. In case of DOB's based on baptism, we are generally (but not always) confident that DOB occurred within 6 months or 1 year before the baptismal date. "Before" doesn't indicate a time frame and "Approximate" suggests it might have occurred afterwards. Similarly, DOD is almost always within 2 days prior to date of burial. Neither "Before" nor "Approximate" accurately portray this relationship.
In addition to what I said in response to Herbert's wish...I will confess, when going through 884 Elizabeth Wheeler's, I don't look at the biography, I look at what is at the top of the profile, having the Christening field or button (which could also work) at the top of a profile could be helpful to those of us who have to search through 100s of the same name, which is extremely time consuming.
Perhaps the radio button could be labeled "Proxy event", with parenthetical explanations "(such as baptism/christening)" and "(such as burial)". This would be highly useful for those times and places where church registers are the only records available, but the registers only record the date of the sacrament. "Before" and "after" do not work, because the sacrament could be on the same day as the vital event. (Natural language doesn't really have expressions for ≤ and ≥, unfortunately.)
Chase, the difficulty I have with baptism dates is that not all religious cultures have that ceremony or, in the case of certain Christian denominations, they do not happen soon after birth. Examples follow:

Jewish: circumcision, which does help narrow down the DOB.

High church (RCC, Presbyterians, Methodist, CofE, etc.):  infant baptism. Low church (Baptist, Pentecostal, independents, etc.) : “adult” baptism. I was baptized at the age of ten. Not much help in narrowing down the DOB. I know people who were baptized after conversion in middle age or later. My daughter was baptized at nine months. Not much help there.

Just some thoughts.
Pip, the problem is not that some baptismal dates are not related to birth, but that in some cases, baptismal or christening dates are all you have to work with, and that is what this request is attempting to handle.  I believe there are significant times in parts of England where there are NO birth dates, and never will be - they weren't recorded then.  If you have a birth date, even if estimated, you use it. But if you don't and you know there never will be one, then you want to use the baptismal or christening date, and mark it accordingly so others will understand how to interpret it for the period and region.  That's why some have requested an additional radio box on the birth date field.  A 'Before' box is not helpful, not specific enough.  A box for 'Baptismal date' and/or 'Christening date' would immediately inform others of how to interpret the date.  And date comparisons and calculations can use it to better qualify their work.  Plus, an exact baptismal/christening date can be associated with its source document.  (All vitals should be associated with their backing evidence in my view.)
Ok, I get it. The further back you go, the less likely for a late baptism. One exception was the rebaptism by Baptists. Two dates, if the second was ever recorded. Could be confusing. But I don’t like the “before” option, either.
As I've commented elsewhere, "before" is sometimes simply wrong, because baptism could and did happen on the same day as birth.

Also, I've encountered a phenomenon in old town or church histories whereby a person's birthdate creeps backwards two or three days, because an author didn't realize that his source author had already applied the "subtract one from baptism" shortcut. The way to avoid such errors is to properly label events and their substitutes. A radio button for "substitute" or "proxy" or some such could serve this function. (Mathematically, it would indicate "less than or equal to", i.e. not the same thing as "before", and nowhere near the same thing as "uncertain".)
+26 votes
I would like to see something more formal for copyright approvals on pictures.  Like a place to put your own permission for use of a picture in case you ever lose control over a portrait that you happen to have when permission was granted.  Or a place to send an e mail that was received granting permission to use a picture.
by Gurney Thompson G2G6 Pilot (184k points)
Owning my upvote.
Good idea.
+18 votes
Oh so many things.

1) Better mobile support (especially while editing - that glitch where it wont let you scroll on a tablet/phone is very frustrating).

Or perhaps an app? Even if it was just to view the profiles. This is a fruitless dream but one I would love nonetheless.

2) Better NPE/adoption support. Yeah, I get that it can be "put in the bio" but people shouldn't have to relegate half of their life to their bio.

3) This is the one I want to see most of all: Better support for people who don't want to share their gender as well as transgender people. I don't feel comfortable setting my gender on my profile (and besides that it's pretty easy to understand based on my name) but it breaks most DNA features. The support for trans people is also lacking in general (both member and non-member, living and dead).
by Liz Marshall G2G6 Mach 8 (82.8k points)
#3 is obviously going to be a hot topic, but I would say change "gender" to "sex" and most of the problems you mention can be resolved. Sex at birth (which is what that field should really be) is one of three (we only have 2 currently) possible options, and should not be confused with gender.
Not to turn it into a debate in this PC world but "Gender" is very often going to be confused with "Sex at birth" because it was originally exactly that. It was a polite way of avoiding reference to the "act of sex" by those too proper or modest to use it. It is only in the past 10 years or so that it is being hammered into meaning "the type of personality I have".

It was also a way to get around the person filling out the form and where it said "sex" putting something like "as often as possible". LOL Maybe we need to go all the way down to "sex chromosome pairing" and allow XX and XY as the standard with the very extremely rare deviations like XXY and XYY?

Finally, and this is not to put down the LGBT community, this is a genealogy site. An XX and a XX has no natural offspring. Neither does an XY and XY. Maybe marriage could be changed to always be "Spouse of" though? You don't have to have children together to be married or to influence children in the household.
I agree with the need for more gender options, particularly to address transgender people.

For #1 (the scrolling issue), I believe it to be mainly a problem with the mobile devices. See Scrolling Issues When Editing.

+13 votes
Importing a Gedcom is an actual nightmare. Anything that could be done to ease the trauma would be appreciated.

Also, a function to see if you're connected with anyone famous would be nice.
by Tanner Corcoran G2G1 (1.3k points)
Try exporting a gedcom and working with the resultant file.
The biggest problem with importing Gedcom is that the suggested existing profile does not consider location fields so for common names there can be 50 existing profiles to review meaning people don't bother and import a duplicate or else give up on importing Gedcoms because it is just too hard. Adding a filter for location (where known and populated) would go a long way to fixing the issue.
+20 votes

What a wonderful thread!

1) Enable ability to download a search or an entire last name into a delimited file so you can work locally in a spreadsheet to identify issues and/or take notes.  Current displays are really challenging to tease apart fields when you know all the data is in discreet fields,  For example, if I want to sort/filter by all those who died in Maryland, the best I can easily do is search Maryland or MD or ???

2) In DNA section of profile, include a section with people that have a relationship that could result in X DNA overlaps.  Right now we have au, Y, and Mt, but determining who could have inherited X is more tedious.

3) On DNA descent page (the page url ending in 890), change the Mt DNA section to shade the names pink/blue to better identify female lines that may still need to be built out to find matches.  Blue/males you know would be end of the lines.

4) Geocoding locations and mapping.  I would LOVE to better map locations.  I personally would love Lat/Lon coordinates.  Hot spot maps, migration maps...

5) A comment field for marriages as there is often information about the union that needs to be replicated on both profiles, if that gets done.

6) Simplify the formatting of profile coding.  WYSIWYG.  We lose a lot of people because things aren't intuitive enough.

7) Ability to search for unconnected profiles by relationship.  I'd like to first search for profiles without fathers, then mothers, then spouses, then children.  Number of connections is not as relevant a search metric.

8) Continue collaboration with GEDMatch.

9) Fully support the idea of a flag or some other way to maintain a private "to do" list specific to user that could be used to queue follow up work.  Having a comment field would be helpful in addition to profile link.

10) Look forward to see the continuing evolution!

by Whitney Rapp G2G6 (6.6k points)

Another one... make the "Add a New Person" the same form as the edit profile one, particularly the location fields auto finding a match and having uncertain/certain.  Same goes for location field on marriage form.

+26 votes
The biggest problem I keep running into is checking if a spouse exists already. Nope, so I add her. I then check if her parents exist. Still no, so I add them. Then I find a grandparent and start to check and lo and behold I find the grandparents, the parents, AND the spouse already exist so now I have to merge them. Where were they when I checked???

I have also discovered Search G2G is basically worthless unless you hit a tag. Is there a listing of tags anywhere? I keep missing so many great posts due to not watching the tags. We can only watch 20.
by Steven Tibbetts G2G6 Pilot (287k points)
There's a list of tags under the Tags tab at the top of the G2G screen.  But the only way to search the list is with Ctrl-F, one screen at a time.  :(  I would add that to the wishlist, but it seems mods to G2G are not doable.
Steven I have come across this issue with existing profiles not showing up upon profile creation, but I usually find the reason to be small - like a different spelling of surname or incorrect birth date or death etc on the existing profile. Still very frustrating!
One thing I discovered, in regards to searching for a already existing profile, if I just type their first and last name (regardless of spelling, I check them all), they don't always show up on the list, but, if I type just their last name, then sort alphabetically by first name they will be there, if I add to sort by DOB, the ones with no date tend to disappear. It makes due diligence on searching for profiles difficult, no matter how you do it.
+25 votes

Two very simple things:

1. On the main page of the G2G forum, scroll down to the bottom. You'll see the text, "To see more, click for the full list of questions or popular tags.". When you click for the full list, you'll get the main page repeated again, only this time it's longer, and now you have various page numbers you can click to see older questions. Get rid of this stupid "click for the full list of questions". It's an extra click that has never been needed. Just go to the full first page, with page numbers at the bottom. There are now so many questions in a day that one has to go to older pages to get to questions that were asked today.

2. Better use of screen width. This has to do with two areas: edit boxes that are not fully expanded to their available width by default. And the other has to do with layout of Profile pages, and layout of Free Space pages. It looks like the amount of actual usable space for a Profile or Free Space page is about 55% (rough estimation) of the width of the screen. 20% of the screen width is taken up by the background (or background photo). Of the 80% that is left, it looks like about 2/5 of the right side of the profile is taken up with "Images", "DNA Connections" (for Profile pages), and "Collaboration" sections. The "Images" section is redundant, as there is already a tab up at the top that has the images. It drives me crazy that they are displayed again, taking up extra space. (As an example, see the Freemasonry project page. I'm already using the images in the actual project page, so I don't need to see them duplicated on the right. If I wanted to just see the images attached to this page, I can go to the "Images" tab up top.) What it boils down to, is that I would like more screen width for the actual Profile, or Free Space Project itself, put these other things behind more tabs at top.

by Eric Weddington G2G6 Pilot (229k points)
I completely agree with better use of screen width. I write long biographies and constantly have to scroll up and down to use the edit buttons above the biography text input box. The text input box should be the full page width. Move the preview button to the same row as other buttons and the narrative in the right side bar below the text input box.
Agree on the screen width! My free space page has the chart all in the left side with nothing to “compete” with on the right. Should be full screen width for that info.
On the G2G. one is recently asked questions, the other is recent answers. I personally use both, daily and don't think removing features is necessary, as you can always not use them.
Hi Gillian,

I wasn't speaking about removing "recently asked questions" or "recent answers". I was talking about the fact that you have to click a link in order to see additional links to the other pages of questions / answers. It's superfluous and annoying.
+22 votes
Modern place name fields or a current place name radio button. When entering place data, the exact name of a place at the time of an event is not always known especially for those of us in smaller countries. I believe members leave place fields blank rather than adding an historically incorrect name on occasions. A modern place name or an English language one is better than nothing.
by Fiona McMichael G2G6 Pilot (159k points)
This would allow a major improvement to the search functionality for common names.  Although categorization could be used for this purpose, present emphasis on dissimilar historical naming conventions functionally eliminates that possibility for persons unfamiliar with those conventions or the exact dates of changes.  Aside from historical name changes, the present search location functionality is seriously limited by spelling differences and varying specificity of political subdivisions.
+22 votes
My number one wish is to get rid of the middle name field. The geographic and temporal scope of the whole concept is laughably tiny. In most of the world, if a person has more than one given name, they are all equally his name: he is free to use or not use them as he sees fit.

(Even in the modern US, middle names are not what people think they are: did you know that the Social Security Administration does not consider middle names to be part of your official name?)

Failing that, it would be nice if the "no middle name" radio button defaulted to "on" (checked) if the middle name field was left empty.

Or failing even that, it would be really good if the "no middle name" radio button was on the create/add person page, instead of requiring a whole series of clicks to access, change, and save.
by J Palotay G2G6 Mach 5 (57.7k points)
I'll second that, set the radio button default to "No middle name" please!
My personal preferences aside, the middle name field is not actually part of the gedcom standard. I don't believe too many other genealogy applications have a separate data field for it.
Dennis is correct. GEDCOM only identifies names as a "surname" and list of given names. The order of the names is per family/cultural preference.

There are a few software packages that do ask for middle names. The one I use (MacFamilyTree) does ask for it. The one I used before that (The Master Genealogist) did as well.
This might be a silly suggestion, but could we do away with the middle name box altogether and just have all names (except surname) entered into the current 'first name' box? (As a side note, I find it a little tedious to scroll down when entering the middle name, then scroll back up to continue on entering data.)
J Manners, that's exactly what I'm suggesting: get rid of the middle name field. Names should go in either the given name field or the surname field. (And the system should not complain about having more than one name in either field.)
J Palotay I now realise that's exactly what you're asking for (oops :')) - you have my support on that suggestion!
For Amish, Mennonite and Old Order the Middle Name Field is vital for keeping these generations of families in the correct family. The Middle Name is actually the Middle Initial and is always the Mother's Maiden Name. So we may have 300 Joseph Bauman on Wiki and the best way to keep them straight is to be sure to add the Middle Initial. You will find on most Censuses for these families that there will be Joseph H Bauman (head) Joseph B Bauman (son) Joseph I Bauman (grandson)...and two farms over, same county Joseph L Bauman (head) (same birth year as neighbour) Joseph M Bauman (son) (same birth year as neighbour) please please do not remove Middle Name Field and please please do not omit Middle Initial when adding profiles. Imagine an Olympic sized swimming pool filled with 2000 unrolled balls of white wool. These are the families I am trying to sort (and roll up when possible). The Middle Initial adds a colour to the balls of wool. It's still a huge job but doable and somewhat easier if the correct initial is kept.

Given Names: Joseph S
Surnames: Bauman


Given Names: Joseph Stolzfuss
Preferred Given Name: Joseph S
Surnames: Bauman

which could display as Joseph S Bauman in most places. There's no loss of data involved: your yarn stays color-coded.
The middle name box would be useful if it was searchable, particularly useful when searching for common names.
I think this is a great idea if the existing data in the first and middle name fields in the database can be merged into one new 'given names' field.

This will make sense for many other countries / ethnic groups...

And also, I find that if I add the middle name to a search, I will find sources that would not have returned with only the first name.  Many of my ancestors seemed to have used their first and middle names interchangeably... and they were mostly English/Irish.  The search form only pre-fills the first name right now, so I have to manually add the middle name in order to search on their full name.
+25 votes

Wow, there are some great answers already. Let me add a few more:

*Add “wildcard searches” to make searching for surname variants easier. (Example: Allow search with V%%%rg to return any word beginning with V and ending with rg). )

*Add place name searches that require only the first letter of the surname. (Example: Allow search for all people from “Gloucester, Mass” whose surnames begin with “K”)

*Automated category recommendations based on location data inserted in birth, marriage & death fields.

*Fix the tool that identifies unmatched reference tags to accept “named reference tags” as matched. (i.e., have it recognize that multiple appearances of <ref name=Timbuktu /> are not unmatched references).

*Color-code the text between <ref> and </ref> tags on the editing screen so that it can be easily spotted while editing.

*If the mother dies in the same year as the birth of the child, and entry is by year only, the system currently alarms. Since death in chcildbirth or shortly after was once common, this is a nuisance.

*Add an optional “confirmation” field

*Improve search in G2G.


by Jim Wiborg G2G6 Mach 3 (39.4k points)

Yet another vote for "syntax highlighting" :)

Yes to syntax highlighting from me too.

I've got no problems with the named reference tags. I wrote a script to output text and unique source references from my research database, and have never seen any complaints. See for instance this profile, where I've used one single source (her probate) in no less than five references.

You're right. It works well in your example. Perhaps it has been resolved - or perhaps I have legitimate issues in the pages that have bee flagged for mismatch. I'll experiment.

Thanks - J

Note that your example <ref name=Timbuktu /> has no quotes. That's of course essential to make it work.

Got it. It was working right - and I learned a Wiki formatting requirement I've apparently screwed up for 20 years. Thanks again!
The quotation marks aren't necessary in <ref name= > unless the "name" is not a continuous string. The code <ref name=timbuktu> (and <ref name=timbuktu /> for later instances) should work fine. But <ref name=tim buktu> won't work -- it needs to be <ref name="tim buktu">. And consistency is important (if the name is introduced with quotation marks, it needs to have quotation marks in subsequent uses).

Thanks Ellen & Leif. The single word identifier (e.g., <ref name=timbuktu />) is the way I'm accustomed to using it. 

Several of of my past problem pages are working fine this evening, so there will be no need to go through every page ever edited. Whew. 

Regardless, it is always good to understand the options for use. 


Another vote for colorizing the in-line citations.
I agree that color-coding the tags would be great. We worked on this a bit but couldn't figure out a way to do it without slowing things down and causing problems for some users.
Chris, may I suggest it be controlled by a toggle?  That way, there's normally no performance hit, unless they toggle it on (default: off).

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+12 votes
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