WikiTree in 2018 and 2019

+92 votes

Hi WikiTreers,

It's been another eventful year for our grand project to grow an accurate, free, single family tree. Our 10th year.

In 2018 we welcomed over 100,000 new members into our community. Collectively we made over 23 million edits. We added three million unique profiles. Our web pages were viewed 200 million times by 12 million different people.

WikiTree has grown larger, but has it grown stronger? This is hard to measure (anyone who has suggestions for how to measure it, please post below) but I do believe it has.

Our community feels stronger. Closer. More unified. You see it here in G2G every day in the way members interact with each other. I think our big community events -- the third annual Source-a-Thon, the second annual Clean-a-Thon -- have helped contribute to our sense of teamwork and camaraderie.

Many of our technical improvements in 2018 were focused on the strength of our tree. Our search and matching systems have been improved to help prevent duplicates. Our code for merging duplicates is now a lot better.  Our GEDCOM processing and GEDCOMpare systems were enhanced.  

We also made usability improvements in 2018. It's now much easier to find and use categories. This G2G forum was upgraded. Activity feeds are more informative, and we added a super-handy Watchlist Quick Finder.

Unfortunately a lot of what we worked on in early 2018 wasn't by choice. We spent months reacting to the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This led us to pull back on some features we were planning and change some of our policies related to sharing information on living people. Not all members were happy with these changes. But, if we want to survive for the ages, we can't push the envelope on what's legally permissible. Now I think we're well-protected and can proceed on our mission without worry.

How will we proceed forward in 2019?

Here is some of what I'm looking forward to working on with the team:

  • Getting started on connecting historical place names in our database with geographic coordinates so that locations can be used more effectively.
  • Adding an advanced search option, separate from the basic person search tool.
  • Improving profile comments so they're better for discussions.
  • Transforming image browsing pages into thumbnail galleries and slideshows.
  • Speeding up the Connection Finder so it works for more than just a few connection anchors.
  • Adding profile preview windows when you hover over a link.
  • Providing estimates for expected shared DNA.
  • Developing more ways to proactively introduce distant cousins, likely DNA matches, and genealogists with shared interests.

What do you think our priorities should be this year?

If you haven't already, please read, vote, comment and post your own answer here: What WikiTree improvements are on your wishlist?

In particular, I like to hear members' thoughts on the big picture. How can we make even better progress on our mission? How can we grow our shared tree while making it more accurate? How can we attract other serious genealogists to join us in the hard but rewarding work of collaboration? How can we encourage our family members to share what's hidden in the corners of their attics and minds before it's lost? How can we strengthen this community of ours so that we have reserves of energy and enthusiasm to power our mission?

On that note, about our community, I want to end with a particular thank-you to those who go beyond collaborating on their own family history and take responsibility for helping others who want to contribute. Thank you to the Greeters who meet new members with a friendly face. Thank you to those of you here in G2G who give amazingly helpful and generous answers. Thank you to the Mentors who give one-on-one help where it's needed. And to the Rangers who take shifts protecting our tree 24-7-365 (even Christmas and New Years Day!). Thank you to the Mediators who do what very few of us want to do (resolve heated conflicts). And thank you to the Project Leaders who deftly navigate the problems of collaborating on widely shared ancestors in order to enable members with widely varying experience levels to contribute to common goals. Thank you to all our generous genealogists.

Onward and upward in 2019,


in The Tree House by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Oh boy!!  Those DNA improvements smack of greatly increased GEDmatch integration!  That should be a huge winner in drawing increased interest from others.  We *have* to increase the help and guidance for users, many of whom are now crippled if they don't have GEDmatch ID's.

Bravo! Watching WikiTree grow bigger and better is such a joy. Thanks to all who helps WikiTree shine .......heart

Thanks Chris. This platform is the only platform that I actively use and over the years (since the end of 2013 when I first joined) a lot has happened and also a lot has changed. Always with the best of intentions and with the goal of improvement. A lot of the features I now use daily. Roots Search, sorting tables in searches, error data base … to name just a few. My gratitude and my appreciation to all involved in those improvements over the years, and my best wishes for the new year as well!

Congratulations to every WikiTreer on all of these great achievements !

G2G forum is one of the main resources for collaboration and communication in the WikiTree community.

I think G2G forum is being missed by many, many WikiTreers (there are less than 17000 users having 300+ G2G points to this day).

To increase the participation in G2G forum, I'd suggest the following:

One of the preliminary requirements for the Pre-1500 Certification is:

  • Two or more postings in G2G.

How about adding (or moving) the same requirement to the Pre-1700 Self-Certification?

(There are 22644 Pre-1700 Certified members up to this point).

Long life to WikiTree !!

Thank you Chris for all you do to make this a wonderful place to do this work. One thing I'd like to see is GEDmatch and wiki more "connected", what I mean by that is to have all of our tested members who are on GED match have their Wikitree link checked. Mine has never shown up on their site, although I was told it was automatic. Also, Sometimes I see a "relative" on a profile and I get an error message from GEDmatch saying the kit doesn't exist or another error appears. Maybe a way to verify those kit numbers when people sign up? I'm just throwing out ideas, based on a recent experience, but hey, why not?

 Rubén Hernández This is sort of addressed in my answer which is the 16th down. Basically a user tutorial and test. 

34 Answers

+42 votes

What an exciting year it has been! Thank you Chris for the wonderful overview of our year. Those goals for 2019 sound outstanding. The only thing missing (for me) is the ability to hide right margin items when printing a profile. I would like cousins to be able to print them out for 'family books' and also hope it will inspire them to make the profiles look  even better once they see they can print them.

As for making things stronger... I think we have already come a long way in doing just that. I wish I had ideas for how to make the Projects more enticing and interactive. Those are great platforms for collaboration. I like your idea of reaching more of our cousins. I have found several since joining WikiTree and I am blessed to be able to work with them.

Have an amazing 2019!!!  Mindy smiley

by Mindy Silva G2G6 Pilot (382k points)
Printable version of profile pages: excellent idea.
+33 votes

WikiTree was included among DNAeXplained’s major happenings in 2018:

by Peter Roberts G2G6 Pilot (508k points)
edited by Peter Roberts
+24 votes
It's been a good year, and, to borrow your words, onward and upward!

Here's hoping we don't face another unexpected thing like the GDPR again in 2019. LOL.

Happy New Year!
by Natalie Trott G2G6 Pilot (633k points)
+28 votes
The improvements made this year have all been good. Thank you Team. I'm sure whatever you have up your sleeves for 2019 will also be good.
by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+25 votes
Just great Chris. I am excited by it all - every single thing.

by Mags Gaulden G2G6 Pilot (490k points)
+28 votes
I love Wikitree! I tried to do my part by going to my family tree and adding a link to each ancestor their wikitree profile. Hopefully cousins will see that if they ever look at my tree and come here!
by C. Bake G2G6 Mach 4 (43.6k points)
Excellent idea!
+32 votes
Considering the discussion about the Arabic speaking profile and possibilities to edit this profile in case the PM leaves, there really have to be some Top-Level-members who are able to deal with different languages to be able to monitor what happens on those profiles.
Yes, I know, there is google translate. But google translate is not as good with languages from outside the EU as within the EU. That's because the corpus of words is (alone because of the regulations of EU that are translated in about 20 languages) considerably bigger.

Perhaps another point to increase the internationalisation (?) of WT there should be also more portals in different languages that translate the Help-sites and other sites, or the possibility to switch the menu to a different language. That would help quite a bunch of people in the German WT-users-group on Facebook.

That's what's coming into my mind without long wondering.
by Jelena Eckstädt G2G6 Pilot (418k points)
I too would wish for the implementation of other language versions of the WikiTree UI. This would be a huge factor for the worldwide attractiveness of this page. Currently it's still mostly America-based. And many e.g. European genealogists are discouraged in using this site simply by the fact, that there are alternatives available in their language and WikiTree is not. People, who would otherwise love to be here.
+33 votes
As a leader and mediator on WikiTree I would like to thank Chris and the team for the "vision" they provide for the rest of us.   I have used a lot of "other" family tree websites and truly appreciate the "single family tree" approach.

Like others, as I have been a member for over 5 years, I love all the improvements made in software, integration and approach.   I cannot wait to see what comes in 2019!
by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (607k points)
+23 votes
Thank you, Chris and Team, for making Wikitree even better and look forward to the many improvements to come!
by David Selman G2G6 Pilot (826k points)
+24 votes
What a marvelous year it's been! The longer I use WT the more I love it and its members.

One thing to keep in mind, Chris & team, is that not everyone has a fast internet connection. Some of us are in the 'web-boonies' without much bandwidth and little hope that it will improve much over the long term, so please, please, keep that in mind for us. We'll forever be greatful. I once had marvelous speed, now I'm lucky to have much connectivity at all, and stormy days are frightful :)

Congratulations on all the fine work!
by Bobbie Hall G2G6 Pilot (142k points)
+25 votes
Hi Chris, thanks for your update and overview of where Wikitree is going. It was great to read this.

I joined WikiTree in 2012, and was inactive for quite awhile. I became interested again in the middle of 2016, and spent much more time learning how to use Wikitree and getting more involved than I was the first time around.  I quickly noticed that the site was much easier to navigate and understand, things made much more sense, people were less frustrated with each other, the whole vibe had improved tremendously. It was obvious that there had been a lot of hard work done in the background,making Wikitree a better place for all. Also the community spirit was stronger and much more civilized, and it was apparent that the Wikitree team went to great lengths to cultivate a positive atmosphere here. Wikitree has now become my favorite place for on-line genealogy.

Well done, you guys have done a spectacular job.
by Alex Stronach G2G6 Pilot (260k points)
+24 votes

Chris, I haven’t even been here a year, but boy what a ride it’s been. I saw only a few changes this year, except for the one big one: the way I do genealogy. In eight months, my personal database has become very nearly obsolete. 

Some of this happened just learning as I went along. However, I learned most by watching how others approached genealogy on G2G, and by the kind intervention of members who cared enough to correct me early on. (Uh... this still goes on.) What a community!

You asked about how we can make our Shared Tree more accurate. One might be to “head things off at the pass.” Gedcom uploads are often not taken care of and some adding new profiles without Gedcoms are still not sourcing well. I’m not sure how to address that. 

Another way to correct this (after the pass) might be to do the Source-a-thons on more often. We have over a million officially unsourced profiles, not to mention those that are not so tagged, and a once-a-year Source-a-thon covers only a small portion of the unsourced profiles. Besides, the Source-a-thons are a blast while meeting a very necessary need. And, if new folks participate, they’ll learn a very important lesson.

Chris, I’m really looking forward to this coming year. Thanks to you and to all for allowing me the privilege of contributing to to the Tree. 

by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (1.8m points)
I like the idea of doing Source-a-Thons more frequently - perhaps quarterly? Not only do they improve the profiles, but they definitely help with the community spirit.

That would definitely work for me! Great minds think alike, so everybody should listen to us, right? angel  I’d love a quarterly Source-a-thon!

(Hey, there’s a poem in that paragraph!)

Yes, head them off at the pass. Source-athons are a great idea, but ''after the fact" efforts are not the usual main tool for maintaining database integrity. Our tree is a wiki, so open to all to write on our wall, but unlike a general wiki, we desire to end up at a provable state. Thus, database write access to critical data fields in existing profiles needs to be earned, not given out willy nilly. We already do this in special cases. I have apparently never earned the right to edit pre-1500 profiles; they tell me I don't have the required creds. Perhaps we should have tougher requirements for pre-1700 edits, and add pre-1800 requirements as well. In every case, one would take a test for the level of access sought. Wrong answers lead to teachable moments, and after teaching succeeds, access is given. After human interaction is guided to the true path of sourcing, we should also restrict automated tools from database write access until they are thoroughly vetted by our database team, to ensure they never can deposit garbage into our tree. Don't let them over the pass into our garden of provable ancestries.

Yes, Source-a-Thons are definitely not the answer on their own.  As the old saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

I'm sure we will all very joyfully welcome the day when the idea of having quarterly Source-a-Thons becomes overkill.

In regards to the certifications, I agree with you that the pre-1700 test is too easy and that we should consider a pre-1800 test and/or another test that would come earlier - like perhaps when attempting to create a profile that is not a first or second (or at most third) degree relative - people that WikiTree can reasonably assume you may not have extensive first-hand familiarity with.

Actually, there's the Saturday Sourcing Sprint every week...

+19 votes
Maps - love maps, and place names that are right for the time and that - so glad that is one of the focus items!  Looking forward to it and will help if I can

Oh and thanks to all and good work people, and Happy New Year
by Navarro Mariott G2G6 Pilot (142k points)
edited by Navarro Mariott
+14 votes
Thanks to so many people who have helped build and shape WikiTree.  It takes a whole village...and our village is huge.  It also takes some shared understandings and some kindness when we discover our own mistakes, or, oops, someone else's!  Mentors have popped up from time to time and helped me figure out the next steps.  

In 2018, information on a family line was published.  Wow!
by Janine Barber G2G6 Pilot (152k points)
+13 votes

Sounds great, bossman. It's been a blast being here for the tenth anniversary. =D I do have a question about this:

  • Developing more ways to proactively introduce distant cousins, likely DNA matches, and genealogists with shared interests.
What do you mean? Will it be like the side of our profiles which show potential DNA matches? Bit confused. Hope you can clear it up, Chris!
by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (314k points)
Hi Chris. I don't know that I know what I mean. :-) One idea is to e-mail you when your DNA test attaches to the same profile as another member that you have not already been introduced to.
+21 votes
Some people get very confused over procedure, standards, and where to look for information. I know many people take the certification test for pre-1700. Is there any chance something similar can be done with a basic course and test for things like basic layout, <ref> tags, using categories, acceptable sourcing, etc? This might also be a good spot to explain G2G and tag usage.

I went 4 years with no help or mentor. And there are times I am still caught off-guard on how things should be done. But at least I have developed a grasp of where and how to look for the answers. I see so many times in Data Doctor challenges that someone will do the same mistake across multiple profiles. If the test an a lesson were set up, we would eliminate much of this confusion.

Another possibility is to urge the implimentation of having at least 1 trusted member on each profile that is not open in case something happens to the PM. This would allow updates to be accomplished much easier if there was a way to either contact those in the trusted list or notify them if a message is left on the profile.
by Steven Tibbetts G2G6 Pilot (253k points)
Hi Steven. Maybe you would consider leading the development a new interactive quiz. Writing the questions and answers is the only hard part. It wouldn't require a long policy discussion if it weren't connected to any permissions, i.e. if it was purely educational.
Hi Steve and Chris, I am also interested in the educational needs of wikitreers new and old.  I asked a question about essential skills a while back and got an interesting answer from someone in the England project, They have an England Orphan's Trail which introduces format, sources, }}}} squiggly things, sometimes known as coding as well as other basics.  We could make it into different modules based on a person's perceived needs.  I have a Master's degree in education, btw, so although I've never done anything quite like this, I would love to help.  I should be able to check out the England Orphan's trail soon,

Open my mouth and create more work for myself. I really gotta learn to stop doing that. LOL

I figure everyone seems to love badges so some easy way to read over a certain space page set up for it and then take a quiz similar to the pre-1700 certification badge would spur people to learn basic things like curly brackets {} and how they are used, proper structure for a biography at least as far as the minimum requirements, and how to actively look for answers.

Many people just won't attempt it unless there is an "atta-boy" in there somewhere. I figure taking the test and passing it as well as doing say "1,000 contributions" might do the trick. Many people still don't seem to know they have a "suggestions report". This would help solve it.

I know this quiz is being discussed as purely educational with a badge award - no permissions requirements - but perhaps you could set it up to be able to transition into a permissions requirement if consensus is reached.

Just brainstorming here: Each new member would initially be a "Private Genealogist" who can create and edit profiles they manage that are not Open to public.* You have to let people get started and have something invested into WikiTree before you try to get them to earn a certification.

After a certain number of contributions,** you become eligible to take the quiz and earn a "Public Genealogist" quiz which enables you to create new profiles and edit open profiles for anyone post-1700 (or whatever the standard is at the time).

So even if this badge isn't connected to permissions now - it could be touted as the way to know you're ready to be a "Public Genealogist" at WikiTree. Ask all the most experienced people to take it in order to generate "a buzz" about it that will call it to the attention of a lot of WikiTree users.

Let it become a big deal in WikiTree culture - perhaps after successfully completing the quiz there's a button to push that auto-posts to G2G that you earned your badge - which will alert whoever awards the badge to award it and write write a congratulations comment on their profile - and other WikiTreers to come like the post and add comments congratulating them on joining the ranks of "Public Genealogists."

If you end up doing this - I volunteer to help in any way I can - such as giving badges and writing congratulatory profile comments, etc - after I earn my badge. wink

*And perhaps are also third degree relatives by blood or marriage or closer to help prevent massive duplication.

** Perhaps 500 - it seems to me like a lot of people drop out after a couple hundred contributions - but you could better figure out when people tend to lose interest and stop contributing.

Congratulations. You just reconstructed the "Wiki Genealogist" badge that you have to sign the pledge to get. Or are you saying we need to pass a test before we take the pledge?

The biggest  goal is to get people to learn the basics on how to use WikiTree because so many times I see under ==Sources== someone puts " or "1880 census". Yes, that was the source. Now I dare you to find it. LOL

Other common blunders are ref tags used incorrectly, category errors, incorrect info in the data fields, personal generational coding schemes in the suffix fields, etc. A little knowledge would not only fix most of these errors before they happened, it would make more options available.
Well yes, I was basically suggesting a new level of Wiki Genealogist. What with the pre-1700 and pre-1500 certifications, we already have different levels. If not connected to permissions, "Public Genealogist" would be a merely honorary level though.

I'm not sure if the pledge timing would change - I wasn't imagining that - do you think it should?

I agree with the goals you stated. I was really only talking about the nature of the "atta-boy" badge you suggested and how it could possibly become connected to permissions someday, if desired.

Nonetheless, these are only brainstorming ideas. If implemented in any form, I'm sure they will be refined significantly.
Love this idea.  Often I come across a new user who doesn't know stuff, then also doesn't know where to look, and is afraid.  The quiz would teach while quizzing.
+19 votes
In recent months, I've noticed renewed activity from a number of members who joined several years ago and had become inactive uploading a Gedcom or personal tree. That renewed engagement is a good sign for WikiTree.

And as much as we decry ugly old Gedcom imports, duplicates, and unsourced profiles, I do believe that things are better than they were a couple of years ago, and "getting better all the time."
by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
I hadn't noticed that renewed activity, but it's certainly encouraging if people who had gone inactive are coming back and taking part again!
+14 votes
Have a happy 2nd year on wikitree to all sophomore wikitreers!
by David Hughey G2G6 Pilot (851k points)
+19 votes
When you're looking into support for historical place names (and historical geography in general), do talk with Karl Grossner (@kgeographer on Twitter) about the World Historical Gazetteer work he is leading (and the general Linked Pasts project which Pelagios is promoting - this involves people as well as places, so is potentially very relevant for WikiTree).

One feature I would like to see in WikiTree is the ability to record occupation as 'first class' data. This information is routinely provided in census returns (in the U.K., at any rate), and has considerable social history value.

Finally, I would love to see WikiTree data being available as Linked Data.

Keep up the great work!   Richard
by Richard Light G2G1 (1.2k points)
Hi Richard. I've been anticipating that we will expand our usage of FamilySearch's Places database. But I'm glad that their may be an alternative on the horizon. By the way, do you use categories or Stickers for occupation?
Hi Chris,

As things stand I haven't been adding occupation at all. I should look into categories ...

+1 for linked data

Hi Richard, 

We have an occupations category structure, and in particular for England, here. Hope that helps! You might also like to join the England Project. We'd love to have you.

Susie :-)


Thanks: I did find the occupations category framework. I must say that the information scientist in me doesn't much go for the pre-coordinated 'English xxx' occupation categories.  Also, you do get anomalies, e.g. 'English Glass Works Labourers' in But then, I've never been a fan of the Wikipedia 'category' concepts on which these are based: a set of links masquerading as a search result.  I would prefer more powerful search, so you can choose for yourself whether or not to combine nationality and occupation in a single search.  I would also love to be able to say when someone had a particular occupation; one of my ancestors started to be a Registrar of Births and Deaths mid-career!

Best wishes,


I hear you, Richard. What you describe is a dynamic search capability that is the stuff of dreams. The good news is that to some extent you can use WikiTree+ for some of these cross references. In the mean time, you'd be most welcome to join the project and work with us on improving the existing category structure.


+11 votes
Happy New Year 2019 WikiTree !  My expectation for 2019 is that WikiTree will continue to grow, becoming ever more respected among the genealogical community.  It's largely because WikiTree was built on a good, flexible foundation and that the leadership is committed to making useful refinements, which have in many cases come about because of the team's willingness to listen to it's membership. WikiTree members are talented and amazing.

In the almost 4 years that I have been a member I have seen many positive changes in WikiTree.  Personally, I have become a better genealogist and I have seen that same change happening in the membership.  There seems to be more of an overall effort to source properly.  We've still got room for improvement but I've seen less talking and more doing among members, including new ones, in the area of proper sourcing. Proper sourcing is becoming more the norm as we continue to stress it's importance to good genealogy.  I have noticed that G2G discussions seem to have become more sophisticated as WikiTree continues to attract ever more knowledgeable members.  I don't even pretend to understand all the discussions going on with DNA these days.  We have  some very knowledgeable members amongst us and WikiTree is the platform they are choosing to share their expertise.  It's because the far-sighted leadership of WikiTree has created the perfect platform to allow the talent we have the opportunity to share and collaborate freely.  As this new talent has been added to the WikiTree family we have seen many improvements.  100, 000 new members in 2018 is outstanding.  I believe it's going to get even better in 2019.  

Thank you Chris and team !
by David Douglass G2G6 Pilot (102k points)
edited by David Douglass

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