Can a status for living or dead be added to the public view on profiles?

+7 votes
In trying to conduct merges I often run into a wall with profiles that have privacy protections on them. I understand the need for them and use them myself. My question is though would it be an invasion of someones privacy to indicate on the public side whether the person is living or deceased. As an example, if I am doing merges of a person born in 1820 and I come across a protected match am I to assume that the person is alive - because uptil the 200 year mark you are able to protect profiles. I often leave these as unmatched merges but just knowing whether they were alive would make the completion of a merge possible. It works the opposite way when dealing with a living person and a potentially dead locked profile.

I know you can contact the profile manager and I have done that when it is someone I recognize as being active in WikiTree but I have lost track of the number of messages I have sent and not received replies to. For my personal family tree I do not see it worth contacting the admin for help with something as trivial as this.
in Genealogy Help by Living Chelton G2G6 (8.4k points)
retagged by Liander Lavoie

3 Answers

0 votes
Great point!

While I can see that there might be a need to protect the status of a person born within the past 100 years for a variety of reasons, it seems that it should be safe to simply note "living" or "deceased" for a person in that grey 100-200 year range.

I know that I would be comfortable with that level of transparency in my tree.

And let's be honest, if our fear is that those who prey on the elderly, the recently bereaved, etc will troll this site for that kind of information, it is easier discovered by a simple Google search.
by anonymous G2G2 (2.9k points)
Id like to comment on this.we live too long... my grandfather is over ninety and i am over fifty and if a one hundred year mark is used it is just to soon to open those profiles because of danger to elderly descendants... no matter google or what ever sites may provide info... I loved it that wikitree provides that built in safety because it also providesa measure of protection for all those still living that are under one hundred in a more auto generated setting. I fully believe in the 200 year rule because if i lose my grampa at one hundred seven (i hope he lives forever!) Then I and my extremely long lived family ...all aunts uncles etc over seventy already some close to eighty will be at risk of not having those safety guards in place... my opinion.
+1 vote
Many financial systems use "mother's maiden name" or similar for password protection.

One in three babies born today will live to be 100 years old.

It's not uncommon for women in the 40s to have children.

I would strongly consider not reducing the "age of privacy" without these considerations.

The current US Censuses are released 72 years after census taking - so, for many, the privacy of names and approximate ages opens up after 72 years.


I could support reducing the "safe" age to about 150 years ago, much earlier I'd have to think about it pretty hard.  200 years is probably too far out by any standards we have today.
by Bill Jennings G2G6 (8.9k points)
This creates a huge problem when there are many of us entering collateral relatives with open profiles because they are deceased, and we have all the sourcing to do so (censuses, findagrave, SSDI, etc.).  The immediate family of this person may want to keep the profile private even though all the pertinent information is already in the public domain.  Do we then just have two profiles, one open and one private?  Do we ask to merge the two and then try to remember why someone who died decades ago has a private profile?

When a death date is unknown, I agree that 100 is too "young" to presume death.
+1 vote

Hi Brian,

We do reveal the decade of birth and decade of death on the public view of a private profile. So, if a death date is recorded, you can see it.

Are you suggesting that this be more prominent and highlighted on search and merge-related pages?

The problem you'll run into is that the death date often isn't included.

For the record: A living person cannot be Public (green). They have to be one of the Private privacy levels (red, orange, yellow, or black). But non-living people can be private if they're under 200. It isn't encouraged unless they're directly related to living people. This is meant to protect the living people related to them.


by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
It looks like this question took on a life beyond what I originally intended or suggested. Oops.

I think what I was running into were profiles that seemed to indicate there was more information available but I was unable to see it. I knew we showed the decades on locked profiles but I guess the presentation on profiles with no date data confused me as it gave the impression that there was more information available in terms of dates. I think - given what you have said - the safest assumption is that if there are no decades given for birth or death then that information has not been added (or added properly) and base my assessment on that information.

Thanks Chris, probably if I would have given it a little more thought I would have realized this was the case. I think I just ran into a long string of "potential matches" with no date data having been entered and it got me to questioning what I thought I knew about the privacy levels. Thanks again.
(Another reason for disallowing empty birth date fields, imho...)

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