What is your most frustrating aspect of WT?

+13 votes
My largest frustration is the size of my database that I would like to see on WikiTree.  I've spent years gathering the info and love the idea of a collaborative tree but the thought of trying to post these folks one profile at a time is not only overwhelming, it will be impossible.  If there was some way to upload segments of my database and then merge with duplicates, that might be doable, but even adding one at a time from GEDcompare is just too time consuming and I'll never get it done.

My next frustration is the SEARCH process!  (1) seems like it would be user friendly to include the WikiTree ID number on the find/search page!!  (2) Why in the world does search return possible matches who are born AFTER my guy died?  Is there no logic to the search function?

And there seems to be NO LOGIC in allowing me to edit a profile, adding a lot of info and sources (or even messing it up); I can do all of that without the manager's permission, but I cannot  'watch' or follow what happens to the profile after I've edited it without the manager's permission.  Maybe we need a 'follow' button and a list of folks I'm following even tho I don't manage the profile.

After I edit and save a profile, I wish the edit screen would close automatically and put me back to the regular profile page where I began.

So there, I've vented my frustrations.  If enough other folks see the same problems, is there hope for future fixes?
in WikiTree Tech by Janie Kimble G2G6 Mach 2 (20.2k points)
A more positive phrasing of this question would be to ask what improvements you'd like to see. :-)

This was asked last week:

Although what improvements I would like to see are not necessarily the most frustrating aspects of WT to me. They are not necessarily the same.

Though you are very knowledgeable, Chris, your suggestion seems to me to carry our correspondent's thoughts and concern out of her sphere of reference. A more complex answer might give more things to move her work along. Her complaints are pretty logical, it seems to me, and should be expressed so we could all dig into it, then offering helpful advice.

After doing a thorough but fast (almost impossible) of the comments and ideas below, The people below could well congregate into an executive commission of genealogist PhDs who form administrative subgroups for sorting all this stuff we swim in day-in and -out. You all  are at collectively at a significantly higher level than most of us who've been doing this here in our WT Garden for at least a couple of years. (Reread as, "doing this here  for ONLY a couple of years." )  

As for me I'll go gladly back to the rank and file of ordinary sorts who are more content given they're not interested in being "better than" perfection- ists at their core. I was one at a scholarly level, though not the highest, and it is wearing!! It can leave one's soul a skeleton of itself, unaware that the point of doing something well and trying to be good at it does not, of itself, create specters but mutual friends seeking many forms of mutual aims. kiss

10 Answers

+12 votes

I want Wikitree to be optimized for use by non-Anglophones and non-Western peoples. Although my ancestry fits comfortably into the "colonial American" category that Wikitree works best for, I think Wikitree is missing out on serving the hundreds of millions of users from other cultures. There should be portals for at least the languages of Mandarin, French, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic. That won't cover everyone, but at least a decent chunk of the world's population will be able to understand what Wikitree is about and how to participate.

There needs to be an option that will reverse the LNAB and given name fields, so the billions of people around the world who have an 'Asian' style naming pattern will be able to display their names properly (Mao Zedong instead of Zedong Mao).

I also think that Wikitree should recruit knowledgeable and local genealogists from some of these regions to be the Regional Coordinators. Genealogists who are familiar with the records available and who aren't primarily focused on, again, Anglophones. The old WorldGenWeb India project entirely catered for people who's ancestors were Britons in India or Anglo-Indians. Can you imagine how you'd feel if you were an actual Indian and came across that? Like your ancestors were so meaningless that even the genealogy project devoted to your nation didn't bother to research them! I know I'd feel very put off.

by Jessica Key G2G6 Pilot (169k points)
Speaking of Mao Zedong, he is one of the key reasons that so many records do not exist.  My son has two trees, one through my English/Scottish/Polish/Filipino/German side, and one through his mother's Chinese side.  On the Chinese side, there is his mom, and his mom's parents, and there ends the Chinese line.  Wife insists that the records simply don't exist.  

The other issue is when you start getting multiple languages on the same profile.  For instance, I have some good profiles on Ancestry that I wanted to check out on Wikitree, and Wikitree couldn't match them... because of the French or German language version existed instead of English.  A Wikitree with a hodge podge of various languages would turn Wikitree to an unusable mess.  One all-up English version of Wikitree with standardized input would be the efficient way to go.  I do think a fully translated version in other languages that mirrors the English trees would be fine (similar to how Wikipedia does it), but that has to be left to those expert in those languages.  But let us not intermingle the languages.  That would wreak havoc on matching, consistency, and standardization.  That would be bad.  Muy malo.  Bu hao!
But actually even the "only Latin-letters"-approach doesn't fit for most languages. For example take my German surname. It's Eckstädt. There are 2 points on the a. Then there is the Spanish surname Nuñez. The english keyboard can't type the ñ. In Portugal there is the popular surname Gonçalves. Who can write the ç? The Frenchies can, but the English can't. My Serbian great grandmothers are Ušljebrka and Stojačić. In official Serbian records their names would be Ушљебрка and Стојачић, because the official scripture in Serbia is cyrillic. To write the names in latin without the accent is possible, I often see that on Facebook, but it's actually wrong, because they are other sounds. So imo if WT really wants to become less English-centered and more international, it has to bring in the possibility to integrate other scripture systems.
I don't see any issue with Wikitree using diacritics, non-Latin scripts, and so forth. As we say: "Use THEIR convention, not ours." If I wanted yet another website where every Juan is turned into a John for the convenience of Anglophones, I could use... literally any popular website.
+8 votes
The fear that follows me after I create a really, really good profile that someone will come along later and trash it. I know I can go back to original form, but I often wouldn’t know it it happened unless I’d go back and check.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (1.9m points)
Well, any changes should show up in your activity feed unless you orphan the profile. I watch my activity feed like a hawk. Most changes are actually improvements, but every once in a while, I need to go in and reverse a change.
Guess I’d better add that to my to-do list.
Well, that is fine if you work your own family, you would most likely want to have them on your watchlist anyway.

But if you adopt and work on nobles, notables and other profiles and is getting close to a watchlist of the recommended 5000  then you might have to orphan some profiles with "your work" on the bio. Sometimes the profiles might be managed by a project but not always.

I would like to have two kind of watchlists, one with the profiles I manage (that is the original watchlist) and one "checklist" with profiles I have done much work on and that I still would like to check on now and then.

If the profiles you're concerned about are associated with and managed by a project, then you can track those profiles through the project's activity feed.

I do this for the PGM and Native American projects.

I also know that many of our project volunteers request Trusted List access on those profiles they worked really hard on, so that they can follow changes.

AND yes, I think many of us would like a true watchlist that does not require asking a profile manager for permission.  There seems to be growing interest in / demand for that functionality.

In the meantime, I know that people use their notepad on their wikitree landing page, or the use of a freespace page for the purpose you're seeking.

Jilliane, I do work on Swedish nobles that don't really need to be managed by Project Sweden since they don't need PPP. 

Also, the project simply can not manage all of the profiles of the nobles either, that would fill up the watchlist for the project instead. Usually, only some of the early profiles and the royals end up with the project as a manager. 

+3 votes
Footnotes. They drive me crazy and mess with my code. Let's get rid of footnotes and ref tags
by Sharon Centanne G2G6 Pilot (153k points)

Sharon, I strongly sympathize with your view, but it *is* important to associate the facts in a bio with the source of those facts, not just list the sources and require considerable re-research in order to explain a fact in the bio.  At the same time, the current recommendations for embedding the sources create exactly the problems you've faced, because they're error-prone, cluttered, and hard to read while editing.

I've taken a hybrid approach, list all sources in one section separate from the bio, then insert named ref's to link all facts with those sources.  If you have time and interest, take a look at the References First method (they don't have to be first, just separate).  And especially, take a look at the ending section about "Status of the Method", a discussion related to what you posted about.

I'm with Rob. In fact, when adding a new profile, I now create the sources first and abstract them for folks that may not have access or desire to seek them out (as I'm creating the profile). I address any conflicting details from multiple sources in the Research Notes section and then write the bio using inline references to the sources for the details that I include in the bio.

If you've ever encountered a profile for which you have conflicting evidence of a particular detail that's not specifically sourced, trying to weed through an entire list of sources at the bottom of the profile to determine which one is conflicting can be really difficult.

Noooo! You leave my footnotes and my <ref> tags alone! surprise

I am also with you, Rob.

Do the research and order the sources chronologically or categorically.

Write the bio with hard returns where sources/citations are needed.

When I am satisfied with the story, I simply move the source to the appropriate place in the story.

And, like others, I maintain a Research Notes to explain any discrepancies or speculations based on interpretation of the data.

Sorry Sharon, but the use of Footnotes is a standard means of stipulating a factual basis for the data in the Biographic text.  As Profiles are created as a single page in WikiTree, we must make use of Footnotes that do take up space as we are not afforded the use of a Bibliography or Appendix due to this size constraint. (1)

Written work without specific citation for each main data point then becomes conjecture and not factual.  How many historical books have you read without Footnotes do you trust?

As Rick wrote, without Footnotes, it is up to the reader of the Profile to wade through the Sources, when supplied, to discern the truth behind the "fact".  While the Profile may look nice, it behooves the reader to perform extra work which, with a little work on your part, would be rendered unnecessary.

Rather darned brilliant, Rob. <scribble scribble> Adding to my list of New Year resolutions: create new profile template (I use Notepad++, same thing I use for coding) and revise some existing profiles...

Thanks, Rob! I'm definitely going to look into doing this, as it solves my objections to the current recommended practice too.
+5 votes
Using the changes tab, I've corrected several profiles that were incorrectly done by someone else even though I wasn't the profile manager.

Even so, I've got several bugaboos as well.  I'd like to see reasons for making unmerged matches as well as reasons> for merges and rejected merges.  Not everyone adds comments for why they are doing what
by David Hughey G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
I second this request. I've asked for this several times over the years.
+3 votes
Working with exported gedcom files.

(1) The imbedded html coding turns into a lot of material that needs to be removed to make the narrative readable.

(2) it is a lot of work to turn the embedded source citations into sources used by the software I use.
by George Fulton G2G6 Pilot (322k points)
+4 votes
Searching in G2G is frustrating for me.  I usually get the answer after I have asked the question because of the similar questions offered underneath.  I'd like to be able to get to them first.

I wish the reports refreshed more often.  I have to wait a week before I can generate a report that will include all the work I have done,ie adding categories, fixing LNAB/Unknowns and connections.

The help pages can be hard work but I'm sure I'll get better with time.
by Kylie Fowler G2G6 Mach 1 (14.6k points)
+3 votes
Honestly, my only frustration comes from the G2G forum. That being when you explain the issue (both how and why) and have people which answer part of the post and therein missing the actual point
by Richard Shelley G2G6 Pilot (179k points)
+4 votes
I'm in some of the same predicament as you with close to 40,000 ids in my own research database, and I want to add most of them to WikiTree. I'm kind of lucky because I've got them in a database of my own design, and I wrote a Perl script that dumps basic info and inline source references. Then it's mostly copy-and-paste, and some minor editing.

My database doesn't do Gedcom, and I would hate to mass transfer profiles via Gedcom anyway. I actually like the slow and thorough way of doing things; it enables me to improve my own work from twenty years ago and find new connections.

I'm now 66 years old and may not have time for it all, but I think it's better to do a good job with what you can, than just throw in heaps of sloppily done profiles
by Leif Biberg Kristensen G2G6 Mach 8 (84.4k points)
+2 votes
1. The 30 day wait period for a response after proposing a merge is too long in my opinion.  14 days should be long enough for an active PM to respond about a merge.

2. PPP leaders or coordinators should at least acknowledge the receipt of a question or merge request from another member.  Inaction can make a member feel that their contributions, experience, and work are not valued.

3. If there is not already, it would be nice if there would be a way to check profiles to verify they are using the correct names for locations for the time period. If not then inform the PM of the inaccuracies and log the issue in a database for Data Doctors to follow up on if not corrected within a 7 day time period.
by Ronald Reed G2G3 (3.5k points)
I beg to differ. "Correct names for locations for the time period" is not always an unambiguous matter. There may be political issues involved, when for example a colonial power will name places differently from what the natives use. For my own part, I prefer the name "Telemark" for my home county, rather than the "Bradsberg" imposed by the Danes. Telemark is the ancient name of the region, while Bradsberg originally was the name of the Danish county governor's manor outside of Skien, which somehow came to denote the entire county.
Well said, Leif. That’s why I’d like a modern place name field or radio button to deal with places which have multiple names - the locations are the same; it’s merely the name which has changed.

What is the need for Styles and Standards in WikiTree if each person does what they prefer?  

"Place names, and even boundaries, change over time. They also have different names in different languages. We aim to use the name that was used by the people in that place, at the time of the event you're recording. This standard is often difficult or even impossible to apply, but it is an ideal that members from all over the world can agree upon."  

The standard depends on who the “people” are. Do you choose the name the coloniser used or the name of the indigenous population? Unless a detailed placename is attached to a specific source, it can be surprisingly difficult to ascertain. It may strike you as odd, Ronald, but there can even be variation in place names on legal documents and postal/municipal/county documents of the same period. There are millions of places worldwide. Coming up with a definitive list in a 2000 year timescale would be a mammoth task. It might work for the US or is it the USA, but you need to remember that this is a world family tree.

That’s why I would like a modern place field as at least at the time the profile was created, the placename might be correct.
I have seen documents with different place names.  I saw an order for a veteran's headstone that was shipped to a railroad station in Hot Springs.  It was signed for at the railroad station in Warm Springs.  I guess a cold front had come through between when it was shipped and when it arrived.  A field for a modern place name would be fine but I do not think it should be required.  A radio button to enable it for those who know the modern name of a place and it can be disabled for those who only have the name for the time period.  I do not think people interested only in doing their genealogy should be expected to also work on world history.  If they know the modern name fine and if they don't that is fine too.  As for the name to use, that would be determined by the source that supports it.  If the record says the person was born in 1650 in New Amsterdam, NY then that is what will be used instead of New York, NY although that is what it is known as now.  This would be a situation where the radio button could be enabled.  Using the same place names, is it ok to say the Empire State Building is in New Amsterdam since I may prefer that name over the name given by the British?  On the other hand if a record says someone is to have been married in Preston County, VA in 1760.  Should someone be required to search the land records to determine exactly where the property was then plot it on a map to determine if it is still in Preston but now WV or maybe a part of the original Preston County that was split off which is now Highland County, VA or a part of maybe even another county.  This would be a situation where the radio button for the modern place name would not be enabled.  I have no problem with a current location name field.  I don't see where it would be any different than a current last name field.  However if someone is searching for records using the wrong name for the time period, they may never be able to locate it.  Duplicate profiles also get created because someone used the wrong place name.  Since this is a world tree, it is even more important to follow the guidelines as closely as is possible for everyone's benefit.
By studying genealogy, world history does become surprisingly important. I know very little about the history of Nieuw Amsterdam/New York. If I came across a family of Native American extraction, born there in 1600, for example, with a record from 1680, what would I call the place? Deciding on the right name is not always as simple as you think. The cemetery just up the road from me established in 1870 would have at least 4 addresses that I can think of. The records are on the current district council website which uses the current placename. The gravestones which are genuine primary sources for a death don’t show placenames. The probate of the will of a person buried there will use another version of the placename. The death certificate might only show a town name. FAG uses the current, modern name. As an American, you would struggle with all the historical permutations, as do I. The guidelines are great when a source has the full placename in the language of the person - in practice, placenames can be tricky to determine. I agree the guidelines are important, but they are not always easy to adhere to.

In my experience, duplicate profiles get created because the original profile is lacking data or sources. Being too prescriptive about placenames often means nothing is used - not even a country - when that is clear enough from the information available. I’d be happy enough to see Germany or Deutschland on a pre-1871 profile. Any placename clue, even a modern, English one, is better than no placename at all.

Update: I’ve just read that WikiTree is looking at having place coordinates. Yay!!

To answer your question about New Amsterdam and New York, in 1600 the person would have been born in New Amsterdam.  The record in 1680 and if it was for an event that took place in 1680 would be New York.  Up to 1664 the area was a Dutch Colony which was then captured by the English during a conflict and renamed.  I don't expect people from other countries to know American history the same as I hope they don't expect me to know theirs.  All a person can do is strive to be as accurate as possible for others.  I understand about conflicting information.  I go with the preponderance of evidence, provided they are of equal weight, then mark it as uncertain, and explain it in Research Notes.  I have seen duplicate profiles due to missing information also, where it was basically a name an uncertain year.  I have seen them both ways.  I see no reason to create a profile unless there is some type of a source.  I don't see how others can do it and have peace of mind.  

Coordinates as in GPS?  That would be good in many ways.  I know the exact locations of several events in my family's line.  Hey, I could get an old Topography map and determine the coordinates of where one of my great grandmothers lived.  Then plot is on a current map which would place it in a lake then claim she was a fresh water mermaid.laugh

+1 vote
I would like to see a publicly accessible bug database and improvement database for WikiTree.

How many times have we all seen the same problems or suggestions, over and over and over on the forum, only to see that nothing ever gets done on them, or the reasons why they are not implemented have disappeared into the black hole of the forum.

I'm tired of seeing repeats on the forum. Get a real issue tracking software and make it available to everyone.
by Eric Weddington G2G6 Pilot (210k points)
Absolutely agree!
Me too!  Seeing a list of things they plan to work on and seeing items eventually crossed off would give us hope that yes, someone is working on this list.  Without that, we wonder . . .

I still don't think this is a good idea. Most of the things that people ask for are not really bugs. Look at the comments and replies on this thread. If these were reported as issues we'd have items for loosening GEDCOM controls, removing reference tags, changing name fields, making it harder to edit profiles, etc. These may or may not be changes worth making, but they're not bugs that should simply be implemented or dismissed by the team. They need discussion, and G2G is the right place to do it. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Help:Developing_New_Rules

Thanks for this link!  It looks worth the time to study.  Better to learn what can be done when, why and how!!
Hi Chris,

Please note that I said both "bug database" and "improvement database".

I've done software development for many years, and done open source software development for many years too. I understand that you may not want the bug database to be public, but an improvement, or ideas, database would be helpful.

The problem with having the discussion ONLY in the forum is that the forum is not easily searchable, as others have previously mentioned. When posts move away from the front page, or the first two pages, it becomes "out of sight, out of mind". This happens on any kind of project. Having some kind of improvement or idea database would help in that regards.

The other issue is that we have no idea if something is being worked on, or not. It would lower frustrations in the community if there were some way to increase the visibility of things that are being worked on, or in the discussion phase.

When it comes down to it, it's about having that increased visibility into potential improvements. I don't care how that is done.
Would a Trello board work?

I don't think it would stop people from requesting the same things over and over in G2G (the same way the help pages don't always prevent people from asking the same questions over and over...), but it could help people know the status of bugs/improvements.

That was really what I was looking for.   Just knowing that an improvement is "on the list" or that the discussion on the subject has already been held is what I was looking for.....

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