The Future of THONs?

+28 votes
Now that we have had our first connect-a-thon in which the goal was adding profiles, I'd like to re-introduce the format of an idea I suggested about 2 years ago.

Initially, this was a Profile-a-thon (PAT) to add profiles which has now become the Connect-a-thon (COAT). (No clue why the name change except to confuse it with the Clean-a-thon?)

This was to be followed by the wildly successful Source-a-thon (SAT) but I would like to suggest 1 small update. If there is any way we could count sources added instead of unsourced to sourced. This would help aid in getting multiple sources on a profile. Maybe we could somehow at least count sources for birth, death, marriage, children, and possibly location?

Next I suggested a Bio-A-Thon (BAT) for the biography builders who could use the new sources discovered to make better biographies. This would include photos but not documents because scanned documents would be SOURCES.

We ended up with a Scan-a-thon (SCAT) which actually is partial SAT and partial nonexistant BAT. While it is important, the mere fact it requires your own photos or documents and a means to scan them puts this outside the reach of many members and could be covered by different THONs.

Finally we have the Clean-a-thon (CAT). This goes through profiles to make sure they follow approved formats and helps eliminate typos and other common errors.

So the natural flow is create profiles (PAT), source them (SAT), write the biographies for the profiles (BAT), and then check them for suggestions (CAT). At which time except for possible additions later, you should have a respectable and fairly complete profile.

So the main things to be considered is

1. Organizing the thons to be PAT/SAT/BAT/CAT instead of COAT/ SAT/ SCAT/ CAT.

2. Seeing if there is a way that we can get adding sources to count instead of just adding A source to an UNsourced profile.

3. Should the counted sources be ANY sources or just for key events like Birth/ Death/ Marriage/ Children.

Discussion, thoughts, and ideas are welcomed. (btw, I'm not recommending more than 1 per quarter)
in The Tree House by Steven Tibbetts G2G6 Pilot (239k points)
I like the current four thons and would not be likely to participate in any others. Eventually I’ll run out of things to post for the scan-a-thon and that will be ok with me.

I think the connect-a-thon was perfect. I really liked the idea that you had to create the new profile off an already existing one. I do a lot of just creating profiles on my everyday project for my local cemetery. By building out their families during the connect-a-thon I was able to connect some already existing profiles to each other & merge several duplicate profiles that were found. And by having additional family members instead of just a stand alone profile, hopefully when someone joins Wiki to add that family into the tree they will be less likely to create duplicate profiles.  

I preplan for the thons. I had hundreds of images ready to upload for the scan-a-thon. For the connect-a-thon, I started making notes on my google sheet for the cemetery a couple months ago when the c-a-t was announced which profiles had sources that included additional relatives (birth/death/marriage records, census or obituary). The source and clean-a-thons are the only ones I don’t put any additional effort into. I’ve already made notes on the work I’ve done this week for both the scan & connect-a-thons for next year.
Jo, you're certainly in tune with MY plans!    I've only been involved in a Source-A-Thon and the recent Connect-A-Thon.  I thought they were great events to participate in.  I'll admit,  I've already started a list of families that I want to  EXPAND..... in the last Connect-A-Thon I kept busy enough remembering families I had  "short changed",  but will need better planning for the next one.   

Thanks for sharing.
WOW. Jo was planning for the COAT a couple months before the CAT? I didn't know anyone knew of it back in February. I missed the memo.

I'm really hoping there is a way to address multiple sourcing in this years SAT. People would be able to source the heck out of their own trees. Hopefully you get extra points for doing an unsourced profile though to prompt those being done over personal trees.
I like the multiple sourcing goal too... though it might be hard to design a way to track it.     Not sure how many Thons I can do every year...... at least the COAT and SAT.    I like my team!!!
There was a click thru link on the WikiTree News of March 13th...under the bullet point for marking calendars for the clean-a-thon. It ends with: “What do you think of adding a Summer Connect-a-Thon?”, which led to a G2G post discussing  it. While it wasn’t a guarantee it was going to happen I did start taking notes as I worked from that point on.
odd, I follow the "challenges" tag but it never seemed to pop up in my Feed. And it looked like the name was already decided on.

Just checked. It was mentioned, I guess I saw it once because that was one of the places I posted my team average idea,
It's it sucky when the steel trap memory starts to fail you.    If you have the fortune of a long life,   there are some changes to adjust to.  I now make shopping lists..... or maybe I just didn't care what I got when I was 20.

I better put the next SAT on my calendar NOW.

(Jo,  I'll bet we aren't the only ones that have started our COAT lists.)

I am really hoping we flush out the details sooner than 2 weeks before the SAT starts. That is always confusing. I'm really hoping some way of tracking multiple sources added can be worked out from the "Explain you changes" field.  This would prompt people to add multiple sources instead of "1 and done" that you get from doing only unsourced profiles.

We should also know what the one in January will be by the end of the Source-a-thon. This gives people time to prepare.
2 1/2 to 3 weeks before we start registering for the source-a-thon. Do we have it figured out yet???
Do we have a way to track added sources to profiles that may have only one source yet??? We are only about a week out from registering.

15 Answers

+14 votes
Best answer

well, I'm going to take the opposite view on this, not all members enjoy doing these ''thons'' (tuna in English really wink)  and I actually find them rather annoying with the quantity of e-mails they generate in the tags I am following.

Needless to say, I am not a fan of thons of any sort.

by Danielle Liard G2G6 Pilot (253k points)
selected by J. Crook

Some are so eager to run the race that they enter a source that's already there or for the wrong person; Overdo cleaning by removing useful information; Make relationship changes without proper sourcing and/or collaboration. 

Some want to add as much as they can without any research.

I usually end up correcting several profiles after each thon but then I do that at least several times a week even without thons.

How to remember the order of the thons just think about protecting your lunch:


PAT SAT with a BAT when the CAT wanted her tuna thon


I am an animal lover named Pat.

Who enjoys the companionship of a cat.

And also dogs, birds and bees but no bat.

I don't get emails, unless someone emails me directly, and thus find the thons less annoying. They're something other people do.  I did find it annoying recently when someone added ancestors to some of my profiles just citing Family Search Trees, and adding no other sources.  It seemed like a quick way to get points.  But I might be misinterpreting this.  Maybe they'll add real sources later.  

I consider thons an invention to make extroverts happy.

hehehe Pat, catlover here also.  laugh  I tend to start on a profile and consult all the sources I can, building a full bio as much as possible.  And often go from one person to spouse to children or parents (or both), no way am I going to spend time keeping track of them for any ''thon'' (whatever happened to Mara anyways?). wink

J. whoever did that should be getting pointed to sourcerers to get the proper sourcing in right away, creating profiles without proper sources is rather frowned upon.  And a family tree, even from Family Search, is not truly considered a ''source''.

I’m actually an introvert and love doing the thons.

I have no problem with extroverts being happy but not at the expense of doing more  harm than good.
Danielle, glad to bring a smile to you.

I do profiles differently. Since I don't always like to do full profiles it depends on what I feel like doing that day: Adding profiles for siblings or children always includes one source. Adding one from a FamilySearch profile has the extra bonus of getting more later. Then I leave the rest of the profile for later... Then other days its merges, suggestions, biographies ... Occasionally I'll get attached to a person and do a full profile start to finish but even then I start with the sources, add the structure using in a timeline order with just a thought or two and then come back later to add more details and then again to add any finishing touches. That's the hard one 'cause even when you think its finished it isn't really ever finished. Something always comes up sooner or later to add.

Most of the time when another works on a profile that's on my watchlist, I will always take the time to add a bit more to it after checking out the new changes which usually get a thank you added. During and just after thons if can take a bit longer to check out all the changes. I really like it when others use the "EXPLAIN YOUR CHANGES" box but really upsets me when relationships are changed without collaboration and/or sources.
I really really hate doing biographies. I like merging ok, cleaning for Data Doctors is fun, and I enjoy sourcing. I'm constantly seeing things posted like "Help me find grandparents of" and going for a look. Sometimes it is even appreciated.
+17 votes
How about a cat-a-thon? Put stuff into correct categories. That might be cool and helpful.
by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (278k points)
That would fall under the pervue of a Bio-a-thon and then be corrected in the clean-a-thon.
Hmm. I see now that I think about it. Still, you got some cool ideas here, man.
I have a few qualms about that suggestion. LOL. I'd rather see existing category errors being corrected!

For a split second there, I thought you were suggesting adding a cat (or maybe just a cat image) to every profile. surpriseBrings to mind Millions of Cats (link to Wikipedia), one of the favorite books of my childhood. 


"there were cats and bats and elephants, but oh dear Lord, don't you forget the unicorn"   

Sing along with me, now....   -NGP

( I digress )

Melanie Paul ... C'est Bon ..

"Thon" translated in French is "Tuna" .. So "cat-a-thon" is actually "cat-a"TUNA" .. lol .. 

I like Wiki-Thons ! ..  

Me too! (Cats that is)

How about a Dog a Thon to put profiles in that are complete Dogs!. No disrespect to my own 3 furry friends!
LOL .. Bow WikiTree WOW ! ..

Ron Floyd .. th'xs for the fresh oxygen ..
+20 votes
Just to clear up one thing, the name of the Connect-a-Thon was debated in many circles before it was decided and isn't going to change. :)  Otherwise, some good points.  

We'll probably continue the Scan-a-Thon - a lot of people enjoyed it.  But there's been some suggestion to alternate between it and something else each year.  

A Bio-a-Thon would be really hard to track so it's not likely that would be the alternate.  But if anyone has suggestions for other marathons that would be good please do suggest them! :)
by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
Excellent point, Ellen - I had not thought of that.  I agree that it needs to be more generalized to encompass all profiles, though.

There are several issues across the WikiTree database that could be addressed in a thon that alternates w/ the Scan-a-thon, if we wanted to head in that direction. Some of them could be considered as being addressed during the Clean-a-thon, but a concerted effort on the following would definitely help improve the tree:

  • Date-a-thon (horrible name haha) ... add dates to those profiles without any
  • Place-a-thon (another horrible name) ... add locations for those that have none
  • Name-a-thon (see above re: name) ... find surnames for the "Unknowns" in the tree (and others with different indicators for unknown names)
Details would need to be fleshed out, of course, but it seems that each of these would be easy to score.
I liked the Scan-a-Thon because I had a lot of images that deserved to be added, and I don't do enough of that without special impetus. Addition of images can require scanning images, cropping scanned images or photos, adjusting image properties to enhance legibility, and similar preparatory efforts, so it isn't something that can happen at the kind of scary-fast rates at which some people manage to add sources and profiles during the Source-a-Thon and Connect-a-Thon.  I think that's a very good thing because it means the Scan-a-Thon is far less likely to create problems for other members to clean up than events like the Clean-a-Thon do. Also, I think that images are valuable for "cousin bait," as they show up in search results and bring people to WikiTree.

I still have a large (and, in fact, growing) inventory of images for the next Scan-a-Thon (if I don't add them before then). This includes gravestone photos that I've acquired while racing through ancestral cemeteries. I also have a few photos from cemeteries near where I live (but have no ancestors). It seems to me that nearly every member has an opportunity to create photo documentation of memorial stones and cemeteries, whether or not the people we document happen to be our relatives or ancestors. During the Scan-a-Thon I created several new free-space pages for cemeteries where I had taken photos of memorial stones for people who didn't yet have profiles. That's something that most of us could do for our local areas. Another type of image that I have uploaded -- and that I endorse for others to consider -- is photos that were published in public-domain documents available online at sites like If people don't know how to capture those kinds of images, maybe we could create a tutorial for use in the weeks before the next Scan-A-Thon.
Would you please explain why you don't just use Find A Grave for uploading the cemetery photos you've taken?
One reason, Julie, is that FindAGrave generally provides a source for just one event in a person's life, their death. On WikITree, we are striving to add gravestone photos that are part of a whole package. We present, as best we can, the whole life of a person, not just their death. FindAGrave, as good as it is, is limited in scope: WikiTree provides the broader picture, of which death is just one part.
Thank you.  Ellen did say, though (if I understand her), that she had a large collection of grave stone photos for people with no WikiTree profiles.

Although I know it is a common complaint, which I share, that Find A Grave does not properly documents its sources, there is nothing to stop contributors from doing so, and I have seen a few memorials that do a good job.  As far as I can tell, more people go to Find A Grave than to WikiTree when they are looking for cemetery information, so it seems like a good opportunity to provide information.  I don't know of any reason that a Find A Grave memorial could not also link to WikiTree.
I don't have legal rights to republish photos on Findagrave unless I have asked the photographer for permission, and anyway if I didn't take the picture I can't personally confirm that the photo is real (Wikitreers have reported finding some fabricated photos on FAG) and that it's in the cemetery named.
Apparently I misunderstood.  I thought you had taken cemetery photos.

Julie, Ellen said that she *did* take cemetery photos.  For an example of what there is nothing preventing one from finding at Find a Grave:

EDITED TO ADD:  It should work properly now.  If you didn't see the whole animation then you can click your browser's refresh button while the picture is displayed to start it again.

To clarify, I've not taken an enormous number a of cemetery photos for people who don't have profiles. What I've done is take photos of graves of my known ancestors, plus other people buried nearby who I'm pretty sure are relatives, and the occasional photo of a startlingly beautiful gravestone.

And I've made a few free-space pages for cemeteries. I see these as places to provide information about a cemetery (someday, if not now) and places to upload images for whom there isn't/wasn't yet a profile. Also I forgot one of my reasons for making cemetery free-space pages:  images can't be uploaded directly to a category. Therefore, if I have an image I want to use to illustrate a cemetery category, I upload it to the free-space page, then I add it to the category page.

My cemetery pages have been pretty minimal. Examples (actually, this could be the whole collection):

+26 votes

This is sort of running off on a tangent, but only sort of. On his WikiTree Statistics page, one of the things that Paul Gierszewski measures is the state of sources on profiles, not as a binary thing (sourced or unsourced), but in several levels:

  • 3 or more sources, where sources are likely original records or books.
  • 1 or 2 sources
  • Poorly sourced, such as a link to an Ancestry tree or another website, or vague source description
  • Unsourced
  • Unavailable for analysis (Unlisted, Red or Orange privacy)
Now, every time he does an analysis, he randomly selects 300 profile, looks at them, and then assigns them to one of those categories. 
I applaud him for putting in that kind of work, but I can't help but think that there would be value in implementing WikiTree categories for each of the levels Paul uses. (Well, not the last one, obviously, and we already have a category hierarchy for "Unsourced".) That way, any WikiTreer could look in the appropriate category hierarchy for profiles that they could raise from one level of sourcing to another.
Specifically, I'm thinking that we need category hierarchies for:
  • "Well-Sourced": 3 or more primary sources1 (birth, marriage, census, death, or military records, family Bibles, etc. which are actually done according to Evidence Explained Format [or FamilySearch's requested citation format, for sources from there])
  • "Partially Sourced": 1 or 2 primary sources
  • "No Primary Sources": links to family trees on any other site2, "sources" with a vague description and no link to the actual sources (such as "FamilySearch", or "", or "1920 Census"), and links to dictionaries, encyclopedias, blogs, etc.
(Settling on actual names for these categories is left as an exercise for the student.)
Then (and here's where I'm attempting to get back on topic for this thread), once those categories are in place (and populated), we could have sourcing sprints, challenges, and thons where people get rewarded, not just for adding a single source to an unsourced profile and leaving it at that, but also for moving profiles between levels. (And, the more you do, the more points you get, so you could get 1 point for adding a secondary source to an unsourced profile, but three points for adding three primary sources.)
  1. This would deal with a related problem, which is that both profiles which have been properly sourced and profiles which haven't yet been tagged as unsourced currently have exactly the same status as far as categories are concerned: no category that relates to sourcing. By having a category for profiles which have at least three good sources on them, we can distinguish them from those which haven't even been looked at in terms of the adequacy of sources. 
  2. I actually encourage people to put in links to family trees on other sites, whether it's Ancestry, FamilySearch, FindMyPast, Geni, MyHeritage, or the innumerable free-standing family trees for particular families or communities, but I always put them under "See also:" rather than treating them as sources. Granted, some such trees are actually sourced, but in that case, I'd add the sources to the profile, rather than treating the other family tree as a source. 
by Greg Slade G2G6 Pilot (298k points)
Excellent thoughts, Greg! Implementing some of your ideas might be a bit complex, but are worth considering. There are some profiles for which there will never be three primary sources, of course.
Greg's idea does sound like an interesting idea.  Maybe the Unsourced template that can currently have a couple of locations included, maybe it could have a 'parameter name' included for the 'level' of Sources attached, similar to what he has stated.
There is an extremely underused category that would fit the bill for the gap between a single source and sufficient sources for a good profile. I'd suggest "needs more sources" or "undersourced" but this one already exists.

As far as those that just say "personal knowledge" or "" or even "ancestry trees" or FamilySearch trees" those are still considered "unsourced" until they point directly to A SOURCE of some kind instead of an area of research.
I suppose that I should also mention that I do not approve of some people's practice of removing one source for a given event (birth, marriage, etc.) from one site, and replacing it with another source for the same event from a site that they happen to like better. Replacing a link to genealogy site A (to which you don't have a subscription) with a link to genealogy site B (to which you do have a subscription) might benefit you (and anybody else who has a subscription to genealogy site B), but removes access to information for anybody who has a subscription to genealogy site A but not genealogy site B. (And, furthermore, does no good to anybody who doesn't have a subscription to either site.)

So, if I find another source for the same event, I add the new source, but I leave the old one in place, for the benefit of those who happen to have subscriptions to that site. (Granted, I only use free sites which don't require accounts, so anybody should be able to see the sources I add, but there may well be something in the paid site that's not in the free site, and I don't see any point in removing potentially useful information.)

That said, if we actually did implement Paul's level system, then even if a profile had two or three sources for the same event, and no other sources, I'd only count it as one source, because in the end, all three sites are pointing to the same original document.
Very good points, Greg! I totally agree with your thoughts on leaving good sources to websites that have subscriptions and adding links to free sites. I am trying to do this also.

I add my total agreement with all points made by Greg.

Let's add sources, not remove or replace them.  I've seen lots of change just in the short time I've been involved in genealogy - things that are free can change, things that require a fee can become free, other sources die (and you cannot necessarily predict which it will be).  While there may be multiple ways to acquire some sources, like census documents, some sites add value to it, such as corrections to transcribed data.

I should also say that, when I find that a link is broken, I check to see if it's been archived at the Internet Archive site, and then I replace the broken link with the archived version if one exists.

+22 votes
This seems like it's meant to be a serious discussion, so folks, could we perhaps make some sort of a pact not to proliferate more and more hokey acronyms and marketing gibberish as it all takes shape.  G2G is already loaded with comments from newcomers about how complex and difficult to understand the site has become, and we regularly see our everyday jargon misused in various ways.  To me it would help the cause immensely if it could all just be explained in plain English (or somebody else's plain native language if others prefer that).

Sorry if I'm a little off-topic, and I'll take whatever ration of thumbs-down votes I deserve, but I had this overpowering urge to call out the one thing about this thread that stood out the most for me.
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (318k points)
But Steven already spelt out what the acronyms/initialisms are for in the first post.

Surely it behooves us to read that first, before responding?
Yes, and that's a good thing, but if they catch on and somehow become part of the language here, not everyone will do that.
I agree, acronyms are quite the nuisance, people use them left and right and leave you feeling blank.
+13 votes
Connect-a-thon, I personally believe that is an odd name for a thon, where all I did was add Brand New Profiles to my existing line in the Tree. (added spouses, children and siblings with sources) They didn't clear any of my unconnected profiles, so I do not understand why it was called a Connect-a-thon. Strange to say the least.

I much prefer the Clean-a-thon. Depending upon the "Suggestion Type" (ie  error number), those could be weighted differently. As we all know some "Suggestions" are much easier to fix than others, the more difficult the "Suggestion" the more points it is worth.

We have enough profiles with "Suggestions" that we could have a thon every month for years and never get them all cleared. Why do we need to add 60,000+ more profiles in a weekend that will add to the "Suggestion List"?

And while we are on the subject of Thons, how about (at least in the USA) divide the States more evenly. Some teams work on one State, while other teams stumble all over each other because 3 or 4 teams are working on the same area. So if one is working on a particular section of a State and someone else is working on the SAME AREA, they each waste a lot of time looking into a profile that has been recently corrected without them knowing it. (in other words the system is not setup to update after each correction, so one can possibly try to fix a "Suggestion" that was fixed 5 minutes ago. By dividing the areas equally amongst the teams, this problem would be eliminated. Just a thought. :)

Thon registration needs to be streamlined. It is a full-time job to scan through pages and pages to make sure one has not missed a potential teammate wanting to join one's team. :)

I know that a lot of background thought and work goes into the Thons, it would be nice if some deliberate thought went into streamlining some of the processes. :)
by Loretta Corbin G2G6 Mach 7 (78.4k points)
Your mileage may vary, but when i participate in a Thon I never restrict myself to the place identified by the team I've joined. In the Connect-athon i was on the Massachusetts team, and the profiles I added all had some sort of connection to Massachusetts, but often the connection was distant. Much of my effort was focused on Indiana and Michigan people (relatives of an Unconnected man who lived his final years in Massachusetts -- and yes, I connected him). The teams shouldn't restrict us.
Point taken. This thon was a whole lot different than the others, where one is correcting "Suggestions" from a spreadsheet that is divided up by States like the Clean-a-thon or Source-a-thon.
As far as teams, MOST of them could actually fall into FEMA regions. 1 or 2 would have to combine or pick which section but they are really close all things considering.
With connect-a-thon, or even SAT, it is difficult to constrain yourself to a single region. Although I was not able to participate in COAT, in advance I went through my watchlist and added need profiles created. Typically this was a spouse who appeared in a census with parents and siblings. This might lead from Indiana to Michigan to New York to Connecticut and to Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas and sometimes California or Kentucky or Missouri, especially with a large family.

As for clearing your unconnected profiles, I have so far looked at only two of those added from my watchlist tags. One I had time to review and got her connected to her father who had an existing profile. The Smith needs more research, obviously - but if I add her mother-in-law, she'll connect to her father. Pretty good 2 for 2.
Steven, I looked at the fema map and think it looks about the most evenly divided plan that I have seen for the US.  

As someone mentioned, you might start out with a family in ME and end up in a trail all the way to CA but if you are originally working with the Section I and just follow the trail, not trying to do everything in the other sections it should not make a difference that I can see.
Thons are supposed to be fun, and team definitions are supposed to be based on -- or create -- some sort of affinity between members. Maybe that affinity is geographic, or maybe a member joins a team because their WikiTree friends on are on that team, or maybe they choose a team because they like the team's catchy name... Let's not turn this into an exercise of emulating U.S. federal government bureaucracy.
Ellen -- that's how I look at it, too.

As for the name of the Connect-a-thon? By adding new profiles to existing profiles, you are making the chances of that original profile being connected greater, even if you don't connect it yourself. The connection may not happen now, tomorrow or the next day, but at some point in the future, a member of that family may come looking and find their ancestor here, and they might be able to fill in some blanks and make a connection.

I have been working on getting sources for a family.  I've been working on them for months.  When I had what I thought were all my t's dotted and my i's crossed, and my swans in a row, I added a "stand alone" profile back in May for the mother.  During the 'thon I added her husband, then started adding her children.  Got to the second son and discovered he was already on the Tree .. and was connected through his wife.  So I made the connection to his parents and, by doing so, made my first ever connection to the larger Tree.  (I still have much of the family to add, especially the one whose name started me on that particular "quest".)

I have hopes that some others of the profiles I added during the 'thon (not just that family) will bring that same chance of connection to other profile managers.  But if they were never added, that chance might be lost for months, or years.  While it still may be more "correctly" an add-a-thon, naming it a connect-a-thon isn't that far off what its intention is.

I don't think anyone has ever said that if you have relatives you are working on in New York and a branch moves to California you are forbidden to work on them. The teams are more an area to concentrate in more than hard fast walls you can't cross. It isn't "Hunger Games" yet.
And a good thing, too, or we Aussies would be unable to do much at all, considering our ancestors are almost all of them from "elsewhere".  We'd be crossing borders with Europe, Asia, what is called the "Middle East", South-East Asia, Oceania, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland (the entire island mass), the islands off Great Britain, all of what is called "Scandinavia", the Americas .. in other words, everywhere there are people.  If we were "confined" by just the borders of what is known as Australia and her territories, we'd have already finnished!
I agree, Thons are supposed to be FUN. Southern Super Sweepers are the Original FUN Team, we always have fun during the Thons. :) When working on the Clean-a-thon, one isn't following a trail of a particular profile, one is supposed to clean "Suggestions" in the Team's particular area. It can become confusing when one Team has 5 other teams working in their proposed States. And it seems that new tams are popping up all the time. If we are going to allow several teams to work in one particular State, then maybe that state should be divided into areas.
+12 votes
A thon I would like to see is one getting profiles listed in their proper cemeteries.  While doing other thons and suggestions I have seen many profiles with a F-A-G listing or other statement mentioning a cemetery on them but no category for a cemetery.  I think all profiles that are opened should have a cemetery category if anyone knows at all where they are buried.

This would better promote our cemeteries section if more profiles were listed in them.
by Paula Franklin G2G6 Mach 2 (25.4k points)
Paula, this seems to me like an anglo-american Thon then. Cemetery cultures vary in the world. In Germany for example graves only exist for 25-40 years usually (depending on the offer of the town at time of death). After the years agreed in an official contract the grave is levelled and not existing anymore. In Serbia it is different, there you (and later other family members) buy the grave and pay for it every single year, so that you have there in the cemeteries partly graves from the early 1800s (At least I saw such graves in Belgrade.)
Oh wow, Jelena, so you are telling me that I may never find the final resting place of my ancestors because they do not exist any more?  Do they reuse the ground that was levelled for more burials or for something else?  

As for Serbia, that is terrible to have to pay for them every year.  I guess mine would disappear before I was ever laid in it if I had to pay for it every year.

This type of information is why I do not try to work on European profiles, I just do not know enough about them not to mess something up.
In many parts of the world, once the body has decomposed the bones may be moved to a separate place with other family members. And you are quite right, you are very unlikely to find a grave for an ancient ancestor in continental Europe--unless they were royals buried in a crypt.
Yes Paula, this is very likely. Sometimes I browse through the online version of the town newspaper of my ancestor's town. And there I saw an announcement saying something like: "People who are responsible for graves created in the year xxxx please make sure the grave is ok. It will be leveled in next April."
+9 votes
Here is a bit different idea because I applaud the idea of biography building.

SAT = each BDM source added and cited in a sentence in the biography field.

You find the source for the marriage and for it to count you must add something like:

On (date) in (place), Joe Blow married Susie Franklin<ref>The source I am adding.</ref>

The vast majority of profiles have no biographies--only a jumble or miscellaneous sources (if you are lucky and find one with sources).

You don't have to be a great writer to add a sentence.
by Kathy Rabenstein G2G6 Pilot (191k points)
+8 votes
The Connect a Thon was pretty cool - I had a couple of Stetson lines that were not connected and now they are all the way to generation 7 from Cornet Robert Stetson/Stitson.

I wish we got credit for connecting up profiles - I do it quite a bit with Stetson because I have the books and can usually find the kids listed with their parents. Then its just a matter of adding the missing people, and that unconnected Stetson is linked all the way back to The Cornet.

At some point, I run out of Stetsons to connect, but I'm also trying to connect up to Lambertons in Scotland, an even more daunting task.

by Roy Lamberton G2G6 Mach 3 (30.7k points)
And it's going to be interesting when you (have to) get out of your own comfort zone, be it your own family, your best known location, documents you know to read at 3am, just woken up and without your cup of coffee. :)

Roy, if you've run out of Stetsons to connect, you might consider pursuing other family names that Stetsons have interconnected with. For example, some time ago I had the satisfying experience of connecting unconnected profiles for people named Chandler, but that list has grown since I last looked at it -- there are now several hundred unconnected Chandlers in WikiTree surprise, many of which I believe are likely to turn out to be early settlers in Massachusetts.

I think I probably have another 1,000 Stetsons to add.


+9 votes
So do I have this right?

Spring = Clean A Thon known as CAT

Summer = Connect A Thon known as COAT

Fall = Source A Thon known as SAT

Winter = Scan A Thon known as SCAT (not sure that is a flattering one)

And we may be adding more?

One note... I wish we could have some measure other than just a volume measure because while it gets a lot done it does not speak to value of what is done.  

I know it has been said that Ales can't count more than 1 instance in a save... but can he count 3 saves on the same profile instead of only counting one?  I mean is there a way to set the maximum number of times a save can be counted to higher than 1?  Would that help things like the COAT where we have now created a ton of profiles that may have questionable solid sources... like only a Find A Grave (which can be out and out wrong), or a census which are also known to have errors.  

And maybe give some extra points if you are working on a time period like pre-1500 because those can take days to source and will never be competitive in these thons.  

Just saying I think we need to look at the quality side not just the quantity side of things.
by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (570k points)
We won't do more than 4 a year but we are looking at alternating the Scan-a-Thon with something else every other year.
Laura, FWIW here's one old codger who completely agrees with you and has tried to make a similar point before.  I'm certainly not opposed to the goals these exercises are trying to accomplish, but I do have reservations about the "beat-the-clock" format, where the atta-boys are bestowed for racking up a lot of contributions in a short period of time.  The statistics we see afterward show impressive numbers of accomplishments, but they're pretty superficial when it comes to assessing improvement in the quality of the overall tree.  There probably is no good way to measure errors made in haste, subsequent cleanup needed, or other unintended consequences, since we may not find out about them until much later, when Profile Managers complain.  I don't really see a good solution to it, but that's the main reason I have a hard time working up any adrenaline for all these -thons.
Dennis the first Clean A Thon was born from a post I made way back when saying maybe we should designate a day and do some spring cleaning to clean up all the errors people kept writing about in G2G.  It was based on the idea that we use the Data Doctor list of what was then called errors and is now called suggestions. So there was some quality aspect built in by working off a list of known issues.  

Eowyn and the admin staff took that mental musing to work together to do some spring cleaning on our profiles and it became the Clean A Thon which really did clean up a lot of the low hanging fruit.  Which is good.  And in that scenario working off a known problem list you get some measure of quality control.   I mean fixing things like missing == or clear typos like Middouri for Missouri is one thing.  

The Source A Thon is also good in getting unsourced profiles sourced.  But, and I say this as one of the team leaders or the Monthly Sourcerers' Challenge, we prefer a fully sourced profile to just adding one source of questionable quality which is one of the reasons we changed our measurement this past year to reward and incentivize our participants based on milestone contributions.  We also post regular notes about where to find good sources, what constitutes a good source, and we have a dedicated group (much like the Data Doctors) who return month after month looking for those profiles that need sourcing help.  We do accept census and Find A Grave but encourage folks to look for collaborating evidence and recommend looking for primary sources.  Those are both secondary ones. Which does not make them bad.   

Due to family illness I was not able to do anything with the Scan A Thon but I would think the biggest question there is copyright.  There are only so many sources a person can have that is not covered by copyright.  Census content for example is not copyrightable but the images sure are.  

This past Connect A Thon I did participate in but not as intensively as I would have liked once again due to family needs.  But I realized that I spent time really sourcing and creating a profile vs dropping a Find A Grave on it and moving on...  to me that is not a good thing for the overall tree.  Granted on some it was the only source I could find and if it was linked to a fuller family it became less questionable.  But I also pointed out in profiles I made where sources did not agree.  I think that is also vitally important.  The lines I worked on had a lot of common names and a lot of cousins, parent / child, aunt or uncle / niece or nephew same names in same or close location during same time period so it was critical to do more than pick the first name and slap it onto a profile.  Not saying others did that.  By and large I think the members of WT are bent to the side of doing it right and not just dumping something in to get a point.  That is why I like WT so much we have a lot of really serious and dedicated researchers.  

I would like to see a couple of static areas where specific types of sources are dropped into in the bio area.  I would put the under a heading of:

== Research Starters ==

1.  Census

2.  Find A Grave

3.  Internet Trees

For me those 3 are suspect but can provide sometimes really good clues to the real sources but should not get counted in sourcing or in creating a good profile at the same intensity as a primary source.  So maybe you get a half a point for those.  If they are in a separate heading I would think you could query for that and count the links then divide by 2.  

And sometimes the only thing you can find is one of those 3.  

For personal knowledge we allow it if it is documented with how you know the person, how you received the knowledge and have given some examples...  

This could easily be under a separate heading

== Personal Knowledge ==

This is reserved for people you know.   Please fill in how you know this person and the information you are including:

I am related in the following way:  (self, spouse, child of, sibling, cousin, friend, etc)

I have known this person (for one day, for my whole life, give some idea for length of time like we went to grade school together,)

I interviewed this person on date      at location    

The above gives the reader then an idea of why the personal information you have may be akin to a primary source.   I mean a child writing about their parent has more validity sometimes than a census record, a news article, or even in my grandfather's case an official birth record because they had him listed as Josephine instead of Joseph and his twin sister as Mark Anthony instead of Anna Marie (true it is quite funny to the family).
well, census records are fairly good sources as such, even if they get names written in some very odd ways sometimes, they are an original record after all.  When dealing with time periods for which indexed baptism and funeral records are not available, they become very useful to create probable time frame for those.

FaG is totally derivative and has become a family tree site lately, with variable quality.  Don't like it at all myself.
Laura, I see you have given this subject a great deal thought, and that's also a good thing -- I applaud that.  I hope I'm not coming across as totally negative about the -thons.  As I said, I do support the goals, but at the same time I agree with the point that we don't have any measurements of the quality of results.  Perhaps there may be some benefit to tweaking the scoring system or grading quality of sources as you suggest, but I'm not sure it's really worth the effort and added complexity. The fundamental problems of racing the clock and assessing overall improvement to the tree would still exist.  I do agree that most members are motivated to get it right, not just accumulate points.  And I'm sure there will be some who claim that they do their best work under time pressure, and others who will argue that if a few errors are introduced in haste, it's a small price to pay for getting all those sources added, or connections made, or whatever.  But I have a tough time reconciling all those things in my own simple mind, because accuracy and haste just seem mutually inconsistent.
Danielle I think it depends on the census record time period, country, and how the data was accumulated.  Different countries do different things and collection methods have changed over time.  

For example the first census 1841 for Scotland had rounded birth data within 5 years.  So if you have 2 people with the same name in the same town born within a 5 year period those records may direct you to the wrong person.  Not that it is bad but not as accurate as later ones done.

In the US for many of the early ones a person was sent out to interview someone at each house.  Now sometimes no one was home and a neighbor gave the info.  I have copious examples where data is flat out wrong but it is the same family as you see the right info on a census before and after.   And you had the census scams of the 1800s where dead people were counted by some locations to give them a larger appearance.  

Then you have the people who get younger each time... these are more common in the later ones.  

Odd spelling is one thing, out and out inaccuracies are another.
Denis I did not read your reply as negative.  I was just expanding on my statement that led to your reply.

I come out of an industry of Performance Improvement and Motivation where I worked for 22 years.  We had criteria for awards that had to take both quantity and quality into consideration.  So as a result measurements had to be based on things that were not just quantity.  I mean take a sales initiative.  If you run a sale you generally increase your sales but at a risk to ROI / profits.  So you might have a measurement of sales units but also of regional profits.  

Measurements need to be movable so they can be changed if you find what you are doing is not yielding the results you want.  Many factors can affect success and some are things not in your control.  And competitions are expected to be fair.  So often weighted measurements are used.  You get a % for a sale item but full count of a non sale item for example.   That is what led me to say sources are something you can weight for measurement.  If it is determined we are getting a lot of inadequately sourced profiles as a result of something like the Connect A Thon.    Not saying we did have an issue but if we find we do then a change should be made.
Remember we are trying to balance old school "Winners get trophies" with new school "Everyone gets a trophy". That is one reason for the badge. That way every participant gets recognition. I almost wish those that signed up and did nothing would get them removed though.

As far as sourcing for the Source-a-thon, this was one reason why I was trying to see if we could get a point a source or something similar. Maybe it could be as simple as scanning the remark statements for "Added#source". This would catch "Added a source for death", Added 1880 census as source", etc. This could be on a per save basis so people would just have to remember to "source, save, source, save, etc." on each profile they do.

There will always be people who try to game the system but at least this way the tree will gain more of a benefit. As far as a repeat of the Scan-a-thon every couple of years, any scanned documents would also count as a source if scanned during the Source-a-thon. So that basically leaves the photos which would be covered under Biographies except that got rejected. So maybe every 5 years for a scan-a-thon? LOL

The only group I didn't directly try to target in my layout was the Arborists but I'm uncertain how we could possibly co-ordinate a Merge-a-thon if we can't possibly do a Bio-a-thon. Who knows??? (I'm patenting the name!!)

scanning the remark statements for "Added#source". This would catch "Added a source for death", Added 1880 census as source", etc.

by Steven Tibbetts


Would your above also catch where it doesn't say "added a source for death (birth / marriage)?  It's not exactly how I word things, although I do use the word source.  How broad would the tracking need to be in order to "catch" all possibilities?

I hear you Laura, just looking at 1666 and 1667 censuses for New France, the amount of error is rather horrendous.  About 1/4 of the population is missing from the 1666 one, the 1667 one is slightly better.  But they do give a picture, if only partial.
It could look for both the words "Added" and "source" in the "explain your changes" field. So "Added a source for death date", "Added birth certificate as source", "Added marriage date from record source" would all count 1 point each. "Added photo", "corrected the source of the problem", "removed broken source link" wouldn't count.
(btw I meant "Added*source". * means any and all characters in between, # means 1 unknown character. My mistake)
It would be even easier if we could just look for an "Explain your changes" that started with "Added source" but we have enough trouble getting people to click "Answer" instead of "reply" or "comment" during registration. LOL

It would be even easier if we could just look for an "Explain your changes" that started with "Added source" . . .



Unless the "catch" were broader than that, it would not catch what I use, as the word "source" comes quite a way after the word "added" or "adding" (past registration).  You'd need to look past all the words between.

Thus looking for "added" and "source" even though "added source" would be easier. Besides, if you knew that was how to get it to count, you would deliberately put "Added source for .....". This is probably one of the few ways Aleš could track sources being added to profiles.
+7 votes

Several people have mentioned the Scan-A-Thon. I thought it was a great idea at the time, not just because so many people have lots of old family photos which they really should scan and put up on the appropriate profiles (and a thon does tend to motivate people to do stuff), but also because so many notable profiles lack images, even though there are public domain pictures of them available on Wikipedia (or, more precisely, Wikimedia Commons). But then they announced the rules and said that only photos in your possession that you scan yourself count for the Scan-A-Thon. 

So maybe at some point, we could have a Copy-A-Thon (or maybe there's a better name for it -- while do all the thon name ideas seem to start with C or S?), where people getting points for adding public domain images from other sites to the profiles of notables who don't have images on them. (Or, for that matter, images of people who aren't notables, but who have public domain images available somewhere.)

Wikimedia Commons is normally pretty clear about whether an image is out of copyright, or actually in copyright, but being used under the fair use clause. Take a look at the entry for a photo of Wiley Post, for example.

The National Portrait Gallery has a lot of material on their site about re-using images. Take a look at the page for a portrait of Henry Maxwell-Lyte, for example. I haven't contacted them to ask, but I suspect that WikiTree wouldn't qualify as "Use in non-commercial projects (e.g. online in scholarly and non-profit publications and websites, blogs, local society newsletters and family history)." It may be, if Chris is willing, that we could negotiate some kind of site license so that WikiTreers can add any portrait from the NPG site to the appropriate WikiTree profile.

Some archives make images freely available. The Vancouver City Archives holds a photo of Mackenzie Bowell, and it's clearly marked as being in the public domain. (I wish I was in a position to make a donation to the Archives to thank them for being so useful in my research, but I am exceedingly grateful that they don't ask me to pay per use.)

On the other hand, some archives have a set fee for re-use of images they hold. I wanted to use an image of R.E. Gosnell held by the British Columbia Archives, but it says on the page that the image is copyright. So I wrote to the archives to inquire about that. The answer I received said, in part:

While it is true that the copyright has expired for some of our online images – i.e. they are pre1949 images and permission from the copyright holder to make and use copies is no longer required – we hold proprietary and use rights to the images that are in our collection. If you are planning to use the images that we hold in our collection for display on a website - we charge a fee for this use + $20.00 per image for a jpeg file of the image. The fees we charge offset the costs to provide the services requested by our users.

If you are being paid by someone to work on this project, the use fee is $50.00 per image + $20.00 per jpeg file. If this is your own personal project, the use fee is $25.00 per image + $20.00 per jpeg file.

 So whether you can use an image from a site without paying for it depends entirely on the site. If we were to hold a Copy-A-Thon (Photo-A-Thon? Portrait-A-Thon? Face-A-Thon?) It might help to build a free-space profile, list the rules for different sites (adding more sites and their rules as we discover them), and then link it under the Genealogy Help category.

by Greg Slade G2G6 Pilot (298k points)
Oh, yes. I should have said that I wouldn't expect to have to hold this kind of thon all the time. After all, there are only so many notables. Considering how many profiles got added during the Connect-A-Thon, I could easily see every imageless notable profile on WikiTree (or at least all of those for which public domain images are available) having an image added over the course of a single weekend.
+5 votes
How about an Unmerged Match a thon?  I see so many sitting there because maybe one fact was out of line.  We don't get a list of these that I know of, or have a way of finding them to go back to get them completed.  I'd love to do that and get many cleared up.  Yes I do them when I find them, but there must be so many still out there because I find many on my own. UMAT - going to the Mat for these profiles!
by Cindy Cooper G2G6 Mach 6 (61.2k points)
So kind of like the arborists do? How about "Trim-a-thon"? The only problem is that can take up to a month to default into a merge. THONS last about 3 days.
There are many that are currently set to an unmerged match that could be fixed.  I guess it would become a new merge proposal, but at least it could move ahead.  The Thon measurement could be removing the Unmerged match status, as long as people actually did the fix and made a new merge proposal.
A default merge between 2 open profiles would still take 1 month. Tough to track in a 3 day THON.
+6 votes
One more idea, Steven.  How about a Missing Date a Thon?  I also see a lot of profiles with some dates but not all of them - marriage but no date, missing death date, missing birth date but have marriage, etc.  Possibly an Estimated Date tag.   It could be a Date A Thon Add (DATA).  I've tried to get this from SDMS and don't know how to make it deliver that kind of search.
by Cindy Cooper G2G6 Mach 6 (61.2k points)
If you look in the weekly suggestion report under the DATES section you have suggestion 131-134 if there are NO dates.

Maybe we need 135-137 for blank birth, marriage, death?
+4 votes

I have been watching the live chats (and enjoying them, like usual), but unfortunately, I can no longer comment on them, because Google has decided that my account was used to violate their policies,1 and won't let me log into it anymore.

Still, I wanted to comment on the discussion over the last couple of chats about potential future "thons": we've already discussed a number of suggestions in this thread, so it seems like as good a place as any to comment.

One of the things that has been kind of a nagging itch for me is that while certain countries are pretty well-represented on WikiTree, others are extremely under-represented, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that some countries are not (yet) represented on WikiTree at all. 

In fact, I've even thought about talking to Aleš about doing up a chart, taking the current population of each country in the world and the current number of Wikitree profiles for that country,2 and deriving a sort of "representation score" for each country, so we could see which countries have the lowest scores, and see if we can do something to improve those scores.

So one of the things that I have thought would be fun to do sometime is have have all WikiTreers work together and add, source, and connect as many profiles as possible from a single country, and see how far we can drive up that country's "representation score". Especially if we pick the smallest country (or one of the smallest, anyway), we might even be able to get to the point where, instead of 1 WikiTree profile for every 3,000 people who ever lived there, we might be able to get the numbers up into  percentages. If the records are good enough (and accessible enough), we may even be able to get profiles for more than half of the deceased people who ever lived there. 

Before you scoff at that possibility, bear in mind that the smallest country or dependency listed on Wikipedia is the Pitcairn Islands, with a current estimated population of 50 people. 

The 12 smallest countries or dependencies listed on Wikipedia are:

  1. Pitcairn Islands (50)
  2. Cocos (Keeling) Islands (538)
  3. Vatican City (799)
  4. Tokelau (1,400)
  5. Niue (1,520)
  6. Norfolk Island (1,756)
  7. Christmas Island (1,928)
  8. Falkland Islands (3,198)
  9. Montserrat (4,989)
  10. Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan de Cunha (5,633)
  11. Saint Pierre et Miquelon (6,008)
  12. Saint Bethélemy (9,793)

So, if records are available, we could drive the "representation score" for any of those places up in a hurry.

  1. They won't tell me which policy was violated, or how, or when, or anything, and there's no appeal. I guess you can get away with abusing your users like that when you own most of the traffic on the internet.
  2. And, before anybody asks, yes, I'm aware that we'd have trouble defining which profiles to assign to which country when we have profiles from countries which no longer exist: mapping "Rupert's Land" to "Canada" wouldn't be so hard, but some former empires covered multiple modern countries, so dividing up profiles from them into modern countries might well prove to be too much like work.
by Greg Slade G2G6 Pilot (298k points)
Very interesting idea but I think it would have to be a group of countries, not just 1. Otherwise we would be mass attacking one area.

As far as google, fortunately anyone can make a gmail account (or 2 or 3) and that can be used in youtube. You would have to select your favorites all over again though but it would clear the banned ones in your list.

Can you imagine about 600 of us trying to mob Pitcairn Islands for 3 days? You go to do a profile and when you save it there will be 4 duplicates made in the last 15 minutes. LOL

Maybe do enough countries that it can be one country per team, and have each team decide among themselves how to divide up that country...

Greg, you are a super star.  Google is its own worst enemy as so many of the large IT companies have become.  Facebook banned a post where I quoted something from CBS (CBS is not known as a liberal or conservative group and it was a news article.)  But they did not like it  So what got you banned was probably something very minor and you will never know.  

They did not ban me but they did remove my post.  It was a genealogy post on a genealogy site and I quoted a finding from a CBS news article that had just come out.  Go figure.  Sometimes sourcing can get you in trouble!
+4 votes

Another thing which struck me while watching the live chats is the huge disparity in team sizes, with only two people on Tartan Pride, and I think I heard that one team has something like 28 members. 

Now, I should preface my next remark by saying quite clearly and frankly that I am not in a financial situation where I can actually do what I'd like to do. From here on in, I am talking about what I wish I could do, not what I promise to do. Is everybody clear on that? You in the back? No? Okay, hit pause on that WikiTree Playlist, pull those earphones out of your ears, and listen up. I can't afford to do this, I'd just like to. Okay?

The thought occurred to me that it would be nice to be able to give prizes to all the (participating) members of the team which sources/connects/adds images to/whatever the most profiles during a thon, partly so that even those who aren't the "star" on their team get something for participating, partly to emphasise that it is all about teamwork, and that even if you don't pull down the highest numbers, everything you contribute helps the team (not to mention WikiTree as a whole), and partly because I just love giving things to people.

But the problem with that idea is that while most of us could probably manage to give something to every single member on Tartan Pride, a team with 28 members (are there teams with even more?) would be an entirely different story. So before we could implement anything like a prize for every team member we would have to... well... um... maybe... consider... thinking about... possibly... limiting the number of members per team?

by Greg Slade G2G6 Pilot (298k points)
so basically something like this if we ran off say 500 or so?

Costs would definitely decrease.

Or something like this with charms and keychains.

As far as limiting the number per team, we used to do that until we came up with the "normalized sum". This is the total done divided by either total team members or total active team members. (I voted for active) This actually gives an advantage to 4 or 5 people working hard without members doing almost nothing. Bigger teams tend to have more people learning which pulls the average down.

Also, as hinted at above, larger teams tend to get more people to join up and participate which helps teach newer members.

Actually, I was thinking of something slightly larger and more expensive. (As it happens, my designs sell just about well enough that I have enough CafeCash built up to give away a shirt each time a thon rolls around, so I can give away a shirt without spending any of my own money. [Or at least, not real money. Because I live outside the U.S., I have to earn at least $100 before they'll send me a cheque, and that would take 2-3 years. So I could get some real money if I was more patient, but giving things away is just too much fun.])

But you're quite right: something like you're suggesting would certainly be more attainable when it comes to team prizes. (Personally, I would prize [pun intended] a WikiTree mouse pad.)

Oh yes, I would love a mouse pad!

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