It is OK if your profiles are not perfect

+194 votes
This message is for all the great researchers out there that feel like their research is less important just because their profiles are not pretty and perfect.

There are a lot of people that I meet on WikiTree that have no idea how to do in line citations, WikiTree markup, or how to do categorization or templates, but, they know how to do research, and add a URL to a profile.   We need to appreciate those people as a community.

I am here to tell all of those people, that it is OK to be that way.    And for everyone, remember our Honor Code says, we cite does not say, we make perfect profiles.
in The Tree House by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (577k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
I give up. I'm not a 'Jackass' with a 'bad attitude', Leadership does not 'need to squash me like a bug', people have been slinking away over many years because of different reasons (mainly ego, wanting to be in the 'right'), not only because them feeling intimidated because they are not 'coding experts' (as I have just explained - neither am I). I agree that 'elist, exclusionary attitudes' will never accomplish WikiTree's stated mission but I disagree with the statement that everything else deserves 'stomping out'. 'Hypocrisy' depends on the side one stands on or the reality one understands, in my humble opinion.

And with this comment I'm leaving this thread now.
It looks like it's time to remind everyone about our Honor Code and walking away if you're angry.

I feel like it's also important to reiterate that if you're feeling bothered by something someone has said to you either in private or by G2G post, it's time to use the Problems with Members process on the Help Menu.

The Mentors, Mediators, Leaders and the Team can't help you when you're having a problem if we aren't made aware of it.

Yes, I believe I have to sign off on this topic also. There are several comments in this thread that are clearly degrading to anyone who is not good with using formatting/wikicode in profiles. There are also several comments about such work having no value.

One of the best is ""Go ahead, slap your sources at the bottom of the profile, and watch as others slap more duplicate sources on your profiles because don't think you've got that reference in there. Of course, if your only desire is for your own personal use.... then I suggest you build your own database on your own laptop"

I am sure that intelligent people like all you folks can agree that these are insulting to those who can't get a handle on HTML or wikicode. I am also sure that many of you can see where this would drive people away. 

Bashing someone for faulty sourcing, coding, formatting in public on the tree should not even be occurring. And it is occurring. I know in my own case and I have personal knowledge of it occurring to a couple of other family members in addition to the comments here in the thread.

If one has concerns about someone not following honor code with deliberately inaccurate work, they should be dealing with them in a private message or email. Or discussing concerns with an admin in a private message or email.

I do not see any wikitree ADMINS denouncing this attitude. Robin Lee is the only one who has spoken out. The end result is a much poorer wikitree. But I have stated and restated this opinion and I do not see that wikitree officially cares to jump in and boldly renounce it.

It makes me very sad and angry. Wikitree was such a grand idea but It will only diminish with these attitudes and if things keep going the way they are it will one day become irrelevant.  Nothing one person can do about it, so time to let go.

Good luck to all

Holly --

As stated above, it's up to individuals to contact "Wikitree ADMINS" using the Problems with Members process on the Help menu.

If someone is making comments to you behind the scenes about the work you're doing, nobody knows about it but you. So, you have to take the next step.

If we are made aware of comments along those lines in the forum, they are addressed privately.

Please don't blame the community for the actions of a few.
Julie Ricketts:

I would mention that I did use the problems with members process both when I was told I was an amateur and didn't know what I was doing and when I was accused of plagiarism.

I did receive some nice personal comments from wikitree when I reported. But the members making such comments were not addressed in any fashion. That's when I learned that wikitree Admin is not really concerned with this issue. And this current thread shows they are still not really concerned about it.

That's okay. But it breaks my heart because I believe it will be the eventual ruination of wikitree as a vibrant, growing free genealogy resource.

Julie, perhaps this is the crux of the problem. One only becomes aware of deep hurting issues such as this on threads as this. I mean what is the 'honour code' worth if besides being 'polite' and refraining from 'insults', it does also implies taking responsibilty. (I am not DWWA at this moment) but merely 'reminding everybody to walk away while angry' does not solve the [perceived] systemic issues when it arises in situations as this. Because exactly the [perceived] feeling of having been fundamentaly wronged cannot be addressed by statements from 'above' as these while the technical issues have not been adressed. This seems 'hypocritical' because the 'team' is aware of it. Has been for many years. This is the elitism that 'offends'. The 'rightheousness' to point to a 'honour code' in order to 'adress the 'righteousness' of others. Equal but not equal. Skilled but 'differently' skilled.

Holly --

I can guarantee that leaders and staff are, indeed, concerned when we hear about people who aren't upholding the Honor Code.

That is why we have the Problems with Members process in place along with a team of mentors and mediators to help resolve issues.

We also have a crew of Rangers and another of Moderators to keep an eye on things 24 hours/day. We care very much how people are treated.

Also, I wouldn't assume that because you weren't given an update on someone you were struggling with that the issue wasn't addressed, but if you are continuing to have repeated issues with another member, you need to alert us again by using Problems with Members.

Philip --

What you're describing is, well, humanity. ;-) 

I believe the best we can do here is to remember that we're all working toward the same goal with different skill sets. If we honor each other in that way, we can pull together.

As for walking away when angry ... that implies that when you're not angry, you can come back to address issues in a calm and constructive way. 

Using inflammatory words and phrases is not constructive, and that's what's happened in this thread. 

As you know, there are ways to make proposals for change, and in a community like this it has to be done using neutral language and courtesy so that we all have a chance to voice our concerns constructively and without feeling judged. This is hard to do, but we're going to continue trying, anyway. ;-)

Julie, I can second everything Holly wrote in her response to you as the same experiences I have had with the Problems With Members process in the past.  In addition, you wrote:

If we are made aware of comments along those lines in the forum, they are addressed privately.

I'm not sure exactly who the "we" is that you're referencing, but that word is usually inclusive of the person who writes it and you are obviously very aware of all the comments in this thread, so I expect that you, along with whoever else is "we", will be addressing the issue privately.  Considering that Holly recognized herself as one of the targets and obviously is very hurt by it, I would hope that the "we" will let her know privately that it is, indeed, being addressed.

You also said:

Please don't blame the community for the actions of a few.

My impression is that she is not blaming the community, but that she is blaming management for not having dealt with this issue in the past.  Perhaps, if the "we" does deal with this instance, it will validate her.

I am also 100% (more if possible) in accord with Philip's response to you.

Philip - please don't get your knickers in a knot - my take is that you are not who Holly was addressing - I saw nothing in your comments that might have suggested you are one of those whose hurtful words she took personally. 

Gaile --

As you are aware, there are a few groups of people here who address problems. They include: Mentors, mediators, moderators, and leaders. I am, indeed, included in each of those groups, and I have also taken the necessary steps to make sure that problems in this thread are addressed.

Several people made hurtful and inappropriate comments.

My impression is that she is not blaming the community, but that she is blaming management for not having dealt with this issue in the past.  Perhaps, if the "we" does deal with this instance, it will validate her.

"Management" has dealt with this by creating a way for people to get help when they need it. They just have to ask.

As for Philip's concerns: You are all aware that we have a very limited technical staff and budget. Those of us who have been here for a long time can look back and marvel at the progress that's been made over the past 10+ years.

The functionality of the site will continue to evolve and get better.

21 Answers

+77 votes
Best answer
Thanks for posting this!  I think we all need a reminder that we are not expected to be perfect just re-Source-ful
by Rhonda Zimmerman G2G6 Pilot (131k points)
selected by Cathy Landers
Very good!
+57 votes

Definitely a "star" question. We are always striving to do better, but that is a scale. Even some of the "best" profiles could probably be better. Any profile that has at least one source in it is a good profile. The more the better and the more detail the better, but not everyone can do that you say. I feel it is better for beginners to do what they can and not be intimidated by some of the perfect profiles out there.

by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (341k points)
+50 votes

Thanks for this Robin, I was a fan even before this  "question".  

I am certainly one that doesn't make perfect biographies.   A few of the biographies I wrote look impressive, with grouped in-line citations, categories, images.... and I have a plan to methodically improve my ancestors profiles.  Until then,  I focus on trying to find an actual source for the asserted facts.

by Peggy McReynolds G2G6 Pilot (181k points)
+50 votes
The best question star would be deserved. I also want to add: Not perfect profiles can be connected, profile that are not created because "they would not be perfect" cannot be connected at all. So it is ok to make a basic profile with one source, but at least this profile is then already created.
by Jelena Eckstädt G2G6 Pilot (347k points)
Yes! Created and connectable and someone else could come along and add to it.
+34 votes
Thank you for this Robin, definitively a best question star.  Thank you for posting this.
by Nicole Duchesne G2G6 Pilot (769k points)
+35 votes
Great post! Very well put, thanks for sharing!
by Alex Stronach G2G6 Pilot (222k points)
+32 votes
Thank you, Robin, for this question. SO encouraging!!
by Robin Shaules G2G6 Pilot (603k points)
+33 votes
Entirely agree. We have differing strengths. One great advantage of Wikitree is that we can pool our skills.

I am delighted when I see good research, whether or not the presentation conforms to some sort of Wikitree ideal: and am also delighted that there are people on Wikitree who like to tidy up how sources are cited, add categories, neaten the layout of profiles, and so on. Long live collaboration!

I doubt any profile is perfect. I am sure that all the profiles I have worked on are capable of improvement and I suspect that is true for all of us.

I am writing this as someone who finds it hard to pick up all the typos in what I have done, and who does not always remember the preferred way of giving citations for some standard sources.
by Michael Cayley G2G6 Mach 6 (63.6k points)
+24 votes
Robin, I am so glad that I ran across your comment. I can research profiles all day and all night. I love to find sources for the profiles. I love to help other people. There are very few days that go by that I am not on WikiTree. I would like to be get certified for pre-1500 profiles, but I am not perfect at citing sources perfectly.

Thank you - You made my day!

Bless you.
by Cheryl Hess G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
+16 votes
by Sharon Weekes G2G6 Pilot (128k points)
+22 votes
Amen! I fully agree
by Margreet Beers G2G6 Mach 4 (46.8k points)
+31 votes
Being a Wikitree is a learning Curver, it's also a mather of interest, how to do, what you do.

Its my experience, that I picked up here and there some skills in making profiles, thanks to Bea, Astrid and Jan, when they did edit one of my profiles, I hit the edit button to see, what they did and how they did it.

Reading tutorials didn't do it, to much to take in, see and learn works a lot better, so I learned, <br>, <ref>,</ref> and {{ }} and [[ ]], thanks a lot boys and girls.
by Herman Overmars G2G6 Mach 2 (23.8k points)

I agree laugh

+16 votes
"There is no such thing as a stupid question, only stupid answers". General Colin Powell

by James Brooks G2G6 Pilot (102k points)
edited by James Brooks
+12 votes
Awesome Question Robin!

I will be the first to admit, I am not a good bio writer. I do Source profiles. If one doesn't create a profile then the rest of us wouldn't have something to work on.

I do not feel bad about not writing Bio's because I provide sources so someone who likes to write Bio's can come along and take my research and write a story.

Don't beat yourself up, do what you love and understand, the rest will fall into place.
by Loretta Corbin G2G6 Mach 7 (78.7k points)
Exactly my sentiments and my approach to building profiles.  I work on my little branch of the Wikitree and fortunately, so far, no one has come along to rattle my cage; although I have met a few interesting distant cousins here.
+10 votes
I'm not sure what a "Perfect Profile" looks like. Not sure there is such a thing, as my perfect may be different than yours
by Sandra Vines G2G6 Mach 2 (26.6k points)
+11 votes
Indeed, thank you for posting Robin. This is apparently something a lot of us wanted to read/write/"talk" about.

I believe WikiTree is and ultimately will be successful and sport the highest quality genealogy profiles and trees possible in great (exclusive?) part due to its collaborative foundation.

While is is practically impossible for any one of us or even a small group to donate perfect profiles to the tree, together, we can envision accomplishing nearly that.

Holly (or anyone, really), if you sense your "suggestions" list or other WTers have overwhelming input for profiles you're managing, may I suggest you not hesitate to contact folks to tag team with you to help edit whatever may be needed? G2G is certainly a place to do that if G2G works for you. Alternatively, personally, I would have no issue receiving a message on my profile or a private message to my email from you (or anyone) asking if I could take care of some things on some profiles.(I would actually welcome this, as I love helping out, and enjoy "meeting" people who also contribute to WT.) That's what collaboration, team work, is all about.

Keep up the great work, Everyone! And Happy Saturday!!
by Susan Keil G2G6 Mach 4 (46k points)
+12 votes
I certainly don't make perfect profiles, and I was once against using inline citations.

BUT, I'll say it again: once I took the trouble to actually learn how to do inline citations, and I became more experienced in genealogy and saw their benefits, I discovered that it isn't that difficult. I am NOT a techy person by any stretch of the imagination. But once I stopped complaining about inline citations and actually tried them, I deepened my appreciation of this site and advanced my research. They're great for precision work.

So, by all means, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. But also, don't let the bad be the enemy of the good if you can help it. Always strive to learn, improve, and grow. If you won't or can't do inline citations, fine. But don't lessen their importance for those of us who have come to find them extremely helpful.
by Ryan Ross G2G6 Mach 2 (21.1k points)
edited by Ryan Ross
+7 votes
I agree, Robin! Thanks for the great post. I have met far too many people who have been condescending in the past because people won’t do it “their way” (whatever their way is!). As long as there are sources we should be good to go!
by Liz Marshall G2G6 Mach 7 (76.7k points)
+15 votes
When I first joined WT in 2017

Decided to participate in a Sourcing . Did orphans . Found irrefutable sources. Did a few. Didn't do the fancy stuff. Got an email from someone who at that time was a leader. She told me if I couldn't do things right not to do them at all. Didn't do any more sourcing on pre-existing profiles for a long time.

Too bad, so sad. Probably could have cracked a few brick walls. Cracked a lot for people who were nice to me.
by Eddie King G2G6 Pilot (440k points)
+11 votes
I realize this is an old question but I think there some important factors that need to be considered.

Is there a perfect profile = No

A key factor when mentoring people that I use is endeavoring to evaluate the attitude of the person I endeavoring to teach. With the right attitude you can overcome hurdles.

For example

Just the other day I marked a family member as confirmed with dna and didn't yet have the information to completely verify. I got contacted by a leader who basically asked about me marking it and gave me the information I needed to substantiate Confirmed with DNA. I could of grabbed an attitude or been like "I been on wikitree as a mentor/moderator for xyz time" but the fact is we all have things we can learn I would reckon even sometimes Leaders and Team Members have difficulty at times trying to figure out how to best confirm a profile to make it genealogically sound. But with history and time it has been proven what makes a good profile.

And that is sources that can be evaluated by each person to be able to conclude the same information that you have concluded. Perfect no but the endeavor to strive for quality.

Along with that endeavor to strive for quality we endeavor to live by the Honor Code. Do we always do it? Sadly no sometimes we get irritated and angry and upset but each time we need to come back and re-evaluate because we know that we need to be able to look at things from different angles and admit where we messed up.

Onward and upward for wikitree
by Steve Schmidt G2G6 Pilot (356k points)

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