Should we restrict editing spouses and children on protected profiles? [closed]

+39 votes

Hi WikiTreers,

A couple weeks ago Wendy Sullivan proposed a change that has been requested and discussed for years: extending the relationship protection on project-protected profiles (PPPs) so that it includes spouses and children, not just parents.

Wendy's proposal got a lot of support and there was very little opposition. Thank you to Wendy and to everyone who contributed to the discussion. However, before implementing any changes I want to make sure that something is clear: This would not be an option on PPPs. It would apply to all protected profiles, including many profiles that don't currently have well-sourced spouses and children.

Project protection has a long history on WikiTree. It was initially created to solve an urgent need. Widely-shared ancestors and historically-significant people were having profiles created for them over and over again. Serious genealogists didn't want to work on these profiles because their hard work would soon be merged away. This is when we created projects and project-protection for controversial profiles.

Protection has never meant that a profile is "done." Sometimes a protected profile is really a mess. Protecting one profile for a person is meant to enable constructive collaboration on it to begin. It doesn't mean that the collaboration is finished.

So, to be clear, this proposed restriction would apply to many profiles where the spouses and children do need to be added or edited. Instead of anyone being able to add or edit them, you would now need to contact the Profile Manager, Project Leader, or a Project Coordinator to do it.

If we make this change, I propose that we also edit this message that appears on PPPs:

Maybe it should just say "Project Protected. Click here for how to improve this profile." 

Then we should edit the linked page, Help:Project_Protection, so that it clearly explains how anyone can help improve a protected profile, even without joining a project. For example, we could say that if a parent, spouse or child is missing you should create a profile for that person and then post a comment on the protected profile with the WikiTree ID and your source for the relationship.

I think we should also add something to the PPP instructions for Project Leaders about how and how soon projects need to reply to suggestions. (Side note: We are working on improvements to our profile comments system, the most important of which is that you will be able to reply to comments. When that's ready I think most of us will agree that this should be the way to discuss changing relationships.)

Do you support these changes?

I am posting yes and no answers below. Please vote up your choice. Thanks!

Onward and upward,


closed with the note: We are moving forward with changes
in The Tree House by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
closed by Chris Whitten
As before, I support this change and agree that it should be applied to all such profiles.  I would not delete "Discuss all significant changes" from the PPP message.  I have no opinion about whether or not to add the statement Chris proposes with a link to the Help Project Protection page.  Thank you, Chris and Wendy and all who worked on this important addition to the protection of these families.
I support allowing the addition of spouses and children by Wikitreers to PPP profiles as long as they add biography and appropriate sourcing. Perhaps they could contact PPP to let the team know that they are adding family. I do not support uploading gedcom for spouses/children of PPP profiles as this just adds more work for Wikitreers. Thank you!
I would like to see the PPP sticker or box or whatever you want to call it have the name of the project included in it.  There are so many times questions are asked about which project is protecting a profile.  Even if the project box is on the profile and the project is a manager (which aren't always the case, unfortunately), people still don't always make the connection.  Putting it on the sticker to clarify it certainly wouldn't hurt.

This suggestion if implemented and if I understand it correctly, will give more weight to validation and research (speaking of Project Protected Profiles), instead of mere sourcing. I would welcome that in a second. Yes, we are always in need of more validation, not merely by adding sources but by contextually sourcing and researching profiles. The questions still remains - if somebody creates a duplicate, it has to be handled. This includes spousal and sibling / child connections. So this measure will only work if the problem of duplication is addressed. And it will certainly mean more work for project research coordinators and project leaders. 

I agree about the need for advice on  Help:Project Protection on how anyone can help improve a protected profile.

One thing that advice should include is a recommendation to see if the profile is in a Project Maintenance Category and to read the category description or other guidance associated with that maintenance category.

Also, if a member has reliably sourced content to add to an Open profile that is PPPed (about a missing parent, spouse or child, or anything else), I think it is always acceptable to add the content and sources to the profile itself (in a Research Notes section, if not the main biography) rather than posting it in a profile message.

All relationships are fiction unless they are documented in the biographical narrative.  Anyone can still add well-researched material identifying the parents, spouses and children of an indiidual in the biographial narrative of PPP profiles.  That is the important work.  Then they can call on a qualified person to make the changes.

Then we should edit the linked page, Help:Project_Protection, so that it clearly explains how anyone can help improve a protected profile, even without joining a project. For example, we could say that if a parent, spouse or child is missing you should create a profile for that person and then post a comment on the protected profile with the WikiTree ID and your source for the relationship.

Most of the people who follow those instructions will be people trying to add back the spouses and children that have been deliberately removed.

It's true there are a lot of old PPPs with missing genuine connections.  But most of those missing connections don't lead anywhere, genealogically, and there aren't huge numbers of people working in those areas.

Perhaps the help should just say (1) if there's a project box and/or project account, contact the project before doing anything else (2) if there isn't, get the PPP removed.

Before implementing anything like this, I think all the old profiles that still have PPP status but which are not managed by a project need to be cleaned up.  I asked a question about one such profile 3 days ago at and have had no answer or comment so far - yes I did add the appropriate tags.

These restrictions should now be fully in place.

We still need to update help pages and make associated changes.

The instructions on have now been updated. The changes there are significant. I hope you will all take a look. If you would like to suggest or discuss additional changes, please post a new G2G thread and link it from here. Thanks!

Great. Awesome Chris. Many thanks.

I can see my workload increasing with this change. sad

4 Answers

+76 votes

Yes, I support the changes described above.

by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+7 votes

No, I do not support the changes described above.

If you vote this up, please post a comment below with an explanation. If you would like to recommend something different, you could post a new proposal and link to it from here. See Help:Developing_New_Rules.

by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
I'm not voting up or down yet.  I would like to know how the children affected by the new policy would be treated.  I looked at the link you provided, and it discusses "parent protection" but not "children protection."  Once the children of the original PPP profile were protected, what would be the process for someone wanting to attach their ancestor to one of the children?

I have been blocked by a PM from attaching my ancestor to a profile, yet it is allowed by WikiTree profile to attach uncertain relatives:

At the very same time, I have seen entrenched PMs resist detaching children for whom there is not a shred of evidence, other than unsourced "family tradition."

Edit:  I'm voting no.  The reasons people have stated below seem persuasive to me.  While the projects do some very good work, I have also seen PPP misused.

I vote no. I support allowing the addition of spouses and children by Wikitreers to PPP profiles as long as they add biography and appropriate sourcing. Perhaps they could contact PPP to let the team know that they are adding family. I do not support uploading gedcom for spouses/children of PPP profiles as this just adds more work for Wikitreers. Thank you!

I looked at this thread an hour ago and the No side had two up votes.  Now it has none, which suggests that people are voting the No vote down.  That obscures the opposition to the proposal.  Is that how you want it to work?
I vote no. It's granting such profiles an immunity re editing that other profiles don't have. In effect, discrimination favoring the "quality" ancestors while leaving the "ordinary" people vulnerable to "collaboration" which may not be accurate or appropriate. Equal rights for all is my vote.

Agree with replies from Julie & Eddie. Also think that it is such an arbitrary concept to automatically protect the children...what next? grandchildren? Cousins?

Agree with Carol "I support allowing the addition of spouses and children by Wikitreers to PPP profiles as long as they add biography and appropriate sourcing."  ...But, I feel like EVERY profile should be treated that way...

I am voting no because the number of PPP should limited to profiles that may attract controversial comments.
I fear it will cause a burden on the Project leaders as they will have to coordinate any additions - they have enough to do and many of them are protected because of bad trees out on the interwebs, with the pre 1700 restrictions and the work that goes into that, I feel that we should be able to add the family that has not been yet added with good sources - which have only recently been further restricted.  It is sad that we do not have leaders for some of the projects - hard enough to keep the ones we have, I fear this will chase them off, as they will no longer be able to concentrate on the good work they do with the constant distraction of checking out this or that possible addition to a profile.  I hope that another way can be found to fix this situation.
I have some concerns, similar to Navarro, about the impact on Project Leaders, but I have also seen profiles added to PPP profiles that should not have been added.  it you are protecting one part of their relationship, I think it needs to be protecting all of them - parents, spouses, and children.

My other concern, though, is that there are a lot of current PPP profiles that do NOT have the project account associated with them, which the 'Suggestion' seems to indicate that the PPP needs to be removed or the Project Account needs to be added.  There have been changes made to profiles and possibly the Project Account was removed, but the PPP was not, similar to the Project Box being on profiles that should now be a sticker instead.
I vote No because not all project protected profiles have a project account associated with them and oftentimes it is clear why they are protected.  I would like to see more consistency and a reason why they are protected.  I feel that project protection is being overused for many profiles that are not controversial and would benefit from more collaboration.
sorry this is long but I have some stuff i need to say and for me this fits!  no offense is meant to anyone..just my viewpoints based on experiences on wt and off involving ppp and projects on wt and off of

No I don't support the changes.  As it stands now there are many many many of my direct lines that are becoming "Project Claimed" or Project-Protected.  Don't get me wrong here, Projects and the ppl in them contribute a lot of time, energy talents and work to the profiles. I get it, I do appreciate all of them and their hard works ..BUT Projects in many ways "take control"..when someone discovers a baptism record for say a person that Licensed "respected" known genealogists say doesn't exist, or a marriage record or a death record or documents that help prove a couple was married..and they did have "these children or this additional child"...Guess get that one change to go on a PPP can be a flippin nightmare (nevermind just tryin to get 2 profiles merged (if one is PPP and the other is just floating out in wt) - IF the "majority" rules in the Project or the ones in-charge of the project or on ppp profile, say... "well that is not what this Expert says, or well that is NOT what this well known genealogist says or this  well used genealogical reference book says."  Then getting ANY changes or adding ANy actual family that belongs can be a harassing nightmare, Especially if the docs were found in a Location where the Project ppl say..."well that can't be them! they weren't in that area".  If I've learned nothing else in 25+ years of genealogy I've learned sometimes where you think something isn't! and sometimes who you think someone isn't... they are!... And anytime you take genealogy and turn it into Labels, it becomes about the Labels and less about the lives lived and the families that connect, sorry just my observations.

My point.. Taking the kids into PPP status on top of what already is PPP only makes it much harder to CORRECT Errors of KIDs within these PPP families.. Especially when the ones IN-Charge thru PPP or Projects deams - "no".  wikitree was supposed to be meant for ALL of US to work on ALL Profiles, it has Slowly become a place where.. NOPE, not all, not pre-1700 if not cerified, .. nope not on pre-1500 unless you jump thru ALOT of hoops, join projects, GET approval from project people for profiles you've worked on or created.. Btw.. if you've pss'd ppl off who are in specific can forget getting approval for much of anything!

If you want to PPP the kids what's next/ all the kids' spouses/ ,then their kids and their spouses?.. heck lets just do the whole lot of em in a direct line to current living.  I know I'm being overly dramatic here.. but realistically..theres been a lot of wars between those who work on their family lines seriously BUT don't want to be in Projects or don't have time for Projects, and Those who  volunteer and work these projects and PPPs. PPPs' & Projects has helped created a wikitree phenomenon where some profiles are so special.. others aren't allowed or permitted to work on them.. and these could be their direct maternal or paternal lines. It has become of feeling for some when you open a profile- look first who is pm.. Oh its a project... "nevermind" walk away or just leave the info in a comment, don't try to put it in the bio, they use codes you don't understand (not standard inline refs) - PPP and Projects have basically laid claim  "we own these profiles". Messed up part of this is...  Some of us might have documents that prove or disprove stuff on some of these profiles, but the drama that comes along with trying to change some of these profiles (PPP) is not worth the aggravation or the hoops.  Or if you offer up the records.. sure projects will happily take them (if they ARGEE with what the records show-- But oooh my gosh.. if they have a preconceived notion or idea about this person, their spouses or parents etc and it doesn't agree with the docs... forget it, they will sometimes tell you.."nope thats' a different joe shmo, can't be this one". Or if they do agree they will happily add em into the profile, and many times, no mention of where they got em or from whom.

I think the best thing to fix kids to families/ parents mght be that an actual primary or very very good secondary type source doc must be used to add.  a birth record, baptism, marg, death, will of parent, land transfer, ship passenger list, Genealogical Society or Associations (where sources are included in thier infos), etc  at least then random kids would not be connected just because names were the same or similar. there are too many types of docs out there that make good suspected viable as "sources" until better sources can be found.. but many times PPP and Projects will tell you those aren't acceptable.  We had an arguement over the baptism record a person believed to be related to someone else on wt.  But a project person deamed that the "baptism" was suspect because of the age the person was at the time of baptism!  The person was an adult, baptized, so this actually made the baptism more of a primary source doc since the info on it came directly from the mouth of the of the person baptised- they were living, speaking, alive and talking, yet it was because they were "older" that a wt project person said that was why thier own words were suspect "the want to be recognized as the son of this other well-known person" of that time period.  The ppp /project disconnected entire family lines that now- this current day ARE accepted lines of this "important persons' familial history".. what gives anyone in wt the right to determine that accepted lines (of over 200 years to living descendants today) should be removed based on some "ppp/project ideal" of who is and who isn't Especially when a baptismal record is located?

See I'm sorry, I agree with Danielle , Gedcom random junk with no sources and random somebody shared tree stuff without sources should NOT be loaded to PPP's or project profiles.. personally I don't think they should be loaded at all. grabbing a bunch of names with no viable sources is just creating more junk to correct.
I don't want anyone thinking I'm against PPP or Projects. I'm not, I see the need for them- But I do think that they have forgotten (not all but some) have forgotten that the purposes for projects is to streamline "catagories" of ppl, places, things and to get right infomations about these specifics..I don't think they should become something that now "controls" specific profiles so others who might want to add to a profile, now can't unless majority in project deams its important or belongs. and that is what I feel has happened to many ppp and project profiles.

Hi Arora,

There appears to be a misunderstanding somewhere, don't know where you have run into such problems, I hope it wasn't in the projects i am coordinator on.  The PPP tag does say to ''discuss any significant change'' before doing them.  That does not stop you from making changes if you have the evidence for it.  Just asks for consultation.

Oh dear Danielle, of course it's never been any issue on anything that involves you.  You've been so helpful to me with profiles I could never ever complain about you or the projects you run.
+12 votes

Yes, I support the change.

I've already seen people working hard to get family lines correct, only to be absolutely flabbergasted when someone else decides to create 'add-on' family members and there are no sources, or they've totally confused them with someone else. This encourages dialogue, before action.

In addition to my previous mention: I also don't think it's necessarily favoritism, or discrimination. It's that someone worked their butt off to fix some massive errors - can we please get some checks and balances in place? or else what is the point in having all these database suggestions for son is also the father, father not born yet, etc etc - those suggestions are saying "there's something really wrong here". If you want something protected and you have a valid reason for it, I'm sure you can request that. I don't believe it's just for Kings, or notoriously famous people from way back when.

by Raewyn Vincent G2G6 Mach 4 (40.9k points)
edited by Raewyn Vincent
+4 votes

I am voting neither yes nor no, since this needs further clarification on mechanisms involved etc.  

Being project coordinator for several projects that have lots of profiles under management, including Filles du roy and Filles à marier, who have oodles of descendants, I know for a fact that not all their children have been created, or even all their spouses.  Lots of people are interested in them, and contributors to these profiles don't always look at the guidelines on the parent project (Quebecois project), which apply to them also.  Hence I am very leery of changes to PPP that would affect them.

by Danielle Liard G2G6 Pilot (246k points)
However, one change I would like to see on PPPs is the blocking of GEDCom import dumps into existing profiles, seeing a profile which has had bio neatly done with sources etc suddenly acquire what amounts to uncleaned merge junk added after the fact is extremely annoying.
that doesn't stop someone adding GEDCom import data into the existing profiles.  Which then look like uncleaned merged profiles.  Have seen it more than once.

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