Dear Data Doctors and everyone else who goes around adding dates and data to profiles,

+38 votes

I am appreciative of what you are doing. I even do it myself.

But I have two complaints.

  1. If a profile is only a few weeks old would you mind hanging back and let the profile manager continue. There are many profiles five years and older that would welcome your attention.

  2. I mainly work with New Zealand and Australian profiles. Please do not put an ANCESTRY source on these profiles. Vital Records for both countries are freely available. Please use them.

in Policy and Style by Jean Price G2G6 Mach 1 (17.9k points)
There have been several times that I just had to stop and go to bed instead of finishing up and I wake up to edits, which is a bit of a waste of time from that person but usually harmless.
Really? What are the URLs for Vital Records for Australia and New Zealand? I've never stumbled across them, and they'd be a huge help in the assorted profiles from Down Under that I've been working on.
I would also like the URLs for Vital records for Australia, I have quite a few Australians to add here, but not very many sources for them xxx
@ Karen .. which state/s?  Send me a PM if you'd rather.

Jean, if you would like to propose a new rule for our community that only the person who creates a profile can edit it for the first two weeks, here is how you would do it:

That would be a major change for our community.

9 Answers

+27 votes
Best answer
Ancestry sources can be a problem. I don’t have a subscription with them, so I appreciate those who not only add the source but put a full rundown of what it contains.
by Marion Poole G2G6 Pilot (435k points)
selected by Rae Davis
Thanks for the star Chuck. is a great starting point for me to bring up the sources that they offer attached to the persons profile.

Now take that source ancestry shows, and google the heading by copying and pasting that in your browser.

That page info ancestry has added now has taken me to the whole book on or google book.

There is your complete source. Hopefully, as long as the book wasn’t a complete fabrication.  The hardest thing that a genealogist faces is that after all the work that is put in to a family genealogy is to find out someone tell them, “ Haven’t you heard?” “ The Authors Made the whole story a fabrication”.

We all have to start somewhere right. Just hope that start is the best one.

Therein is a further problem, Googlebooks is not available to many in Australia.
+17 votes
Generally agree about not editing fresh records, but Ancestry’s scanned Anglican registers are really good for NSW info - mother’s maiden name, etc. The Ancestry BDM indexes have some pretty nasty typos and assumptions of course.
by Kathleen Cobcroft G2G6 Mach 4 (46.7k points)
+18 votes
Dear Jean,

The list of Unsourced Profiles does not care if a profile was created 7 years ago or 7 weeks ago if a profile has the {{Unsourced}} template. I will continue to source the profiles I find sources for, no matter if it is from 2011 or from last April.
by Jelena Eckstädt G2G6 Pilot (183k points)
Jelena, The complaint is not about adding sources, except for using Ancestry sources, but more about dates and other data items.
I must disagree, Dale. The complaint is specifically about adding dates and data to profiles that are only a few weeks old. Presumably to give the creator some breathing space to work on their creation.
Edie, Jelena is talking about Unsourced profiles and if a profile is over 1 day old then it should be sourced but the question does not mention unsourced, in fact the only line in the question about sources is requesting that you do not add Ancestry sources when there are other locations for the source that are FREE. In my opinion Dates and Data have very little to do with sourced, yes any change should be sourced but it is against policy to create any profile that has no sources so sourcing an unsourced profile is a very different matter.

Unsourced is a very different suggestion than no dates.
I am not referencing Jelena's comment about Unsourced profiles, but to Jean's specific complaint under number 1 in her question.
Edie, you mentioned my name and I made no comment about complaint 1 but rather Jelena's comment about Unsourced, I am confused why you are referencing me when I was only referencing the defense of adding sources to an unsourced profile when that action does not exactly apply to the question.
The Sourcerers belong to the Profile Improvement Department. Data Doctors belong to the same department (also Profile Improvement). This is visible by having a look which categories refer to the respective sites. So when Data Doctors are mentioned, Sourcerers are also mentioned, which is why I referred to the list of Unsourced Profiles. And no, I still won't wait 5 years before I source an Unsourced Profile when I find applicable sources.
Sorry, Dale. I guess I misread your comment.  Actually I think I was repeating what you said.
+23 votes
People mean well, mostly, and it is a crowd sourced site. Rarely is a profile change intended to be taken personally, and so I don't. Changes can be easily reversed or modified, and I feel no guilt whatsoever in doing so if doing so improves the profile.

If I am constructing a profile over time, I usually put an "Under Construction" note on it, with a very short bullet point of what the status is. I find it helpful for myself, and I have not generally been bothered by officious changes.
by Ellen Curnes G2G6 Mach 5 (53.8k points)
+22 votes
I'm not a "data doctor," but when I find a profile on a line I am working on and I can add well-sourced data, I am going to do it. Why would a profile manager object? Isn't this supposed to be a collaborative site?
by Stu Bloom G2G6 (8.2k points)
indeed it is.
Collaboration goes both ways.  It may be that someone has a particular style they are working on and if they ask you to give them a little time to set the style and add the information why would you not respect that?  Surely there is enough to work to do on WikiTree that you can move on to another profile.
I'm not talking about a profile where the PM has indicated it is under construction.

If I have information to add to a profile that isn't marked "under construction," am I expected to remember to come back to it after whatever period to see if the profile manager has already included it? How long am I expected to wait? Two weeks? Two months? Two years?

I personally don't get my nose out of joint if someone contributes something to a profile that I created. I also am much more concerned that profiles I create and manage are complete, correct, and well-sourced than I am about the "style" of a profile.
Shrug. Nor does it get my nose out of joint to check the date on a profile and wait a couple weeks before diving into a newly created profile.
So if you have information that isn't on a newly created profile, what do you do? Keep a list of profiles to go back and check later?

And I'll ask again, how long should one be expected to wait?
Long enough that the profile manager has a chance to decide how they wish to format the information they have.

Instead of jumping in on a newly created profile to add whatever to it, why not send the information to the PM via private message?  You can also leave a message on the profile saying that is what was done, so future editors can see if the information was added or not.

While I welcome assistance on profiles I manage, I would be somewhat offended if I had just created a profile and someone jumped in and added information I already had, but had not yet added.  It wastes my time to have done all the research and be getting it ready to be added, only to find someone else has jumped the gun and added their own version.

Also, it is most unlikely most newly created profiles are going to have "under construction" placed on them.  I have only ever done that to a couple of profiles on which I was working .. and then only because I had set up the profile and was then waiting for a merge approval (and one other where I am still working out how to present the information I have).

"Long enough that the profile manager has a chance to decide how they wish to format the information they have."

How long is that?  Not being clairvoyant, I need some guidance here.

Personally, if someone can do anything at all to improve a profile I manage, I welcome it. I drop them a thank you. If it's not in my preferred format, I edit it and move on. Life is way too short to get myself in a wad about who did what to a profile - as long as the addition is accurate and properly sourced.

If there is a source with (an approximate) date or location, those should be added as soon as possible, preferably when the profile is created. Otherwise we are just asking for duplicates....

After a week, it certainly seems appropriate to me to add date/location with a supporting source if necessary. I do agree that is too soon to start writing a biography or changing style...

@ Stu Bloom .. it seems to me that you are looking for validation for jumping in on new profiles before the PM has decided what and how to do things for themselves.

I'm not going to be one who gives you that validation.  I think a profile manager should be allowed time .. an unspecified amount of time, depending on circumstances .. to add whatever they have in mind to the profiles they manage (gedcom dumps excluded).

If you have information for a profile and it was created in under, say, one month .. send the information to the PM and move along.  They will choose to use it, or ignore it.  That's up to them. 

If you should chance upon that same profile six months, a year, on and nothing was added, then jump in and add whatever you think supports the facts for the profile.

As I find your posting "style" aggressively argumentative and off-putting .. I'm out of this argument.

Stu is correct. This is a collaborative site. No WikiTreer should ever feel they have to wait a month to contribute to our shared tree.
I apologize if I have been "aggressively argumentative and off-putting." That was not my intention.
I added a source to a profile and was chastised for not using their 'style'. I answered "so fix it."
Courtesy is part of the honor code. Creating work for someone isn't collaboration.

Generally, if I am adding to a profile that appears to have an active manager (and a relatively new profile would fit into that category) and I have not contacted them first, I (1) take the time to study the profile to see if there is something I am missing (maybe the relationship isn't what I thought, maybe the situation is complex, click a couple of the linked profiles to see who's who and what's what); (2) conform to the established style of the profile to the extent of my ability; and (3) leave a note as to why I took interest in the profile and the basis on which I made the change. Nobody has taken offense.

as you said: People mean well, mostly, and it is a crowd sourced site. Rarely is a profile change intended to be taken personally, and so I don't. Changes can be easily reversed or modified, and I feel no guilt whatsoever in doing so if doing so improves the profile.

Thank you Ellen :) I like the importance you place on courtesy, communication, and explaination, also, that you make an effort to keep with the established style of a profile. Your way is very much appreciated ~yes

+8 votes
I have two conclusions from the responses to my question.

The first one is never ever ever have two points in a question as 90% of the responders will answer the one that you are really not interested in.

So Data Doctors, Sourcerers, and everyone else who trips over a profile I am managing - go ahead and add something.
by Jean Price G2G6 Mach 1 (17.9k points)

So Data Doctors, Sourcers, and everyone else who trips over a profile I am managing - go ahead and add something.

I don't know if you are being sarcastic or not, but if the "Data Dcotors, Sourcers, and everyone else" have validly sourced facts to add or errors to correct in conformance with Wikitree style and procedure, I agree they should. But those making the changes should please explain why they did what they did if it isn't obvious, and why they are interested in the profile. That's collaboration (which isn't for everybody).

+10 votes

My second question was the important one and some people did see it.

So here it is again - do not use a secondary index when you can use a primary source. So, for New Zealand Births Deaths and Marriages, Ancestry is just an index. To get the actual date use

For Australia, please use Google and remember that Australia has States. 

Both countries have newpapers online - try Trove and Papers Past 

by Jean Price G2G6 Mach 1 (17.9k points)
edited by Jean Price
I absolutely agree Jean, and feel for your frustrations. I don’t know how many profiles that come across with Ancestry, FamilySearch, Geni, and Find A Grave, as the only sources when more accurate primary sources are readily available. Many times the Ancestry trees, and others, also contain errors.

Let’s agree to keep working to replace such unreliable information wherever we find it!

As somebody from England who uses both the New Zealand Birth Index on Ancestry and the free one on, please could you explain how to get the detailed date and place information from the free index?

For example the wife of my 3rd cousin twice removed Agnes Miln(e) Horne, who was born in New Zealand in 1881.

Information from the free index:

Reg Number Family Name Given Name Mother Father

1881/3387 Horne Agnes Milne Elspeth Esplin David Mitchell

Information from the Ancestry index:

NAME: Agnes Miln Horne

BIRTH: Apr 1881 in Waipukurau, New Zealand, QuarterOfYear Apr-May-Jun

At the moment if I want the quarter of registration, the place of registration and the parents names then I have to use both indexes, but if there is a way to get all that information from the free index that would be much better.

I have found that due to "transcription" differences, sometimes a person finds a record on that you cannot find other places.   You can always ask on G2G about an source.
Paul, you can work out the dates of vital events from the official record if you keep narrowing down the search date. The Ancestry records are derived from something else, and they do give the place, but the registration number is needed to order the printout. (More info than a certificate.) There are also records on FamilySearch which are useful if spelling is inaccurate. I agree with Jean that the official record number and other details should go on the profile. Thanks Jean for highlighting the wonderful FREE Australian and New Zealand newspaper sources. For NZ there are all sorts of things on both FamilySearch (wills especially) and on Archway (Police Gazettes and Military Personnel files etc.)
+6 votes


I am a Wikitree Data Doctor and do a lot of work on profiles. I try to not touch any profiles (unless I am asked to help) that have been created during the last month. However sometimes it is hard not to add sources when there are none on the profile and the source is freely available.

I never create a profile without providing some sort of source. For example if it is a parent and I have no BDM / Census etc source for the parent, until I find a source for that parent,  I add "Named on birth  death records of linked child / children" as the source for the parent. Of course this statement must be correct and the parent is named on the child's birth or death source.

If I have created a profile and have not completed adding all the information I have available I add this message.

'''WORK IN PROGRESS . . . I'll be back soon ... followed by 4 ~ (this automatically adds your name Wikitree ID and the date.

Of course I make sure I go back as soon as possible. I also have a Wikitree  free space profile for my To Do List and add profiles here that I need to do follow up work on (in case I forget!)

Links to BDM websites for Australia & New Zealand



SA BDM Index = Genealogy SA

WA BDM Index




Hope this is some help,


by Diane Darcy G2G6 Mach 1 (16.4k points)
edited by Diane Darcy
Thanks.  Sounds like a good thing to bookmark!!
+5 votes

WOW this has gotten very controversial.Like the old saying goes You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time”. John Lydgate Just today I found my self investigating the same line as another member,not wanting to "step on any toe's" I added some of my research as comments on the profile page..I was thanked and invited to edit the profiles my self.(this I appreciated) I have gotten chastised many times for both editing and not editing a profile..Now I try to just add comments then if there is no response or the PM has not been active I will try to get back and edit the profile my self.This seems to work well for me.If I do not get back to the profile at least there is a lead for the next guy.Now before you tell me how wrong I am, remember some one else will probably agree with me.


ago by James Collins G2G6 Mach 3 (31.5k points)
Just to add...What really makes my day is when I post a link to a source as a comment,the profile manager thanks me for my effort,uses my work to improve the profile then deletes my comment so that I do not have to go back later to do it. oh happy day!  : )

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