G2G 101 - up/down votes, best answers, and flags (and little known tricks)

+32 votes

We often see comments about people having accidentally chosen things and/or about what these things really mean.  I have never seen anything about this in help, so I figured I'd provide some info.  NOTE:  This is ONLY what the buttons do and how they work, with no advice, judgment, or personal opinions about how or when they should be used.


  • Up and down votes don't really have any pre-defined purpose.  Occasionally a question is a survey and starts off with two or more answers and ask people to upvote their choice, otherwise, most of us use these to indicate support or dislike of a question or an answer.  You can only vote once - when you click a choice, it will be highlighted and you can no longer make a selection.
  • Best answer can be selected by anyone, although many folks think it's courteous to permit the person who asked the question to select it.  Even after one is selected, a different one can be selected by anyone, which will replace the first selection.
  • Flags are only intended to call admin attention to an inappropriate post.  This is often not used correctly.  In addition to "fat-fingering" (clicking it by accident), new members have often clicked it thinking it's a way for them to easily find the question again, or thinking it's just more emphatic than a downvote.
  • Favorites is something many people don't know we have.  There is a big gray (but very light) plus sign at top right of the question.  Click that to add the question to your favorites list, so that you'll always be able to find it easily again. 

HOW THEY WORK:  It is not widely known that these are all "toggles" (one switch that changes between two opposite states - instead of having separate switches - if it's off, you can click it to turn it on; if it's on, you can click it to turn it off.

These only work as toggles for each person's own actions, though.

  •  Votes - if you up or down voted something, you will see the dark triangle indicating which way you voted.  You can click that triangle to undo your vote and will then be able to vote, either the same or differently or not at all.
  • Best answer - if one has been selected (by you or anyone else), you can click the gold star to un-select it.  After that you (or anyone else) will be able to select a best answer, either the same one or a different one.
  • Flags - if there is a red flag, this is a little tricky because it works differently depending on whether you were the one who flagged it.  If someone else flagged it then your click will be the second flag and it will automatically hide the item (an admin or a leader can re-show it if they think it's appropriate).  If you were the one who clicked the flag the first time, then you can click it again to un-do it.
  • Favorites - solid gray indicates that you selected it.  You can click that to un-select it.  You can go to your G2G Profile (on the My WikiTree menu drop-down), then click the My Favorites tab to see the list of the favorites you selected.

EDITED - Added favorites - THANX to Peter for suggesting it and Eva for expanding on what to include with it.

in The Tree House by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (912k points)
edited by Gaile Connolly
My impression is that many members view an up vote as being analogous to a 'like' on social media.  And many members shy away from down votes altogether, but if you post something that others perceive to reflect an attitude problem, you'll probably draw some down votes.

Perhaps the Team can add this to https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/about

Many thanks Gaile!

The light grey colored “+” sign (on right, under tab bar) is a way for members to easily find a question again.

Very good.

Also a good addition from Peter about the plus sign. It does need to be complemented with some info about where to find your faved items again - at least it took me a lot of time to get used to visiting my own G2G profile.

Thanks, Gaile. I agree with Steve. This would be a good addition to the g2g page.

I got it all worked out ... everything you click at WT (that is mentioned in this discussion) is immediately followed by 


and the person has to type in a Y or a N. Only THEN will whatever they clicked will be registered. 

umm … no, Susan.  You won't ever see those warnings in G2G when you do anything.  It might be a good idea, come to think of it, since these things are not documented anywhere - at least before I did it here now.

Well you need to talk sweet to Ales and have that installed ... not that it will "do any good" with the board blinking on and off "ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THAT??" and in the face of some really determined people .... 

There are people who will wade out into the knee-deep flood just to prove it's no more than ankle deep just because they KNOW they are right and you are wrong ... 

Susan, this would be handled by Jamie, not Aleš.
I currently have 3 down votes.  It would be nice to find out which of my posts someone voted down on.  Any ideas if this is possible?

Below here, below this discussion, which occurred back in Nov of 2019, there are other discussions about the down vote, and which also include comments about the red flag, I think, and other comments.  

A down vote happens, just as an up vote happens, and they happens and generally speaking, without knowing the mind of the giver, the best guess is that it is a statement of their mood at the moment. 

They are not required to account for their vote, up or down. The computer system does know and does keep track and you can look at your G2G profile and see the evidence. You can see anyone's G2G profile and how many up votes they bestowed and how many down votes. 

In general, I think the general agreement is that it is the problem that the one who bestowed it has, and not your problem 

It's not a problem, only a curiosity.  I know I had 3 down votes.  I just wondered which posts received them.

6 Answers

+15 votes
The only part that I think thoughts will vary on (at least it does for me) is for the Best Answer star. In many cases, questions will receive tons of "answers", and if the user is not sure enough about something to ask the question in the first place, then it may (or will) be hard for them to determine what the correct "answer" or solution based on all the responses.

This is where it easy for well-seasoned members to select a Best Answer:

As an example, if a question is about WikiTree+, there are always tons of answers given ranging from mildly helpful to confusing. If Aleš responds with an answer to a WikiTree+ question, you can rest assured he has the correct answer - he did create (and manages it) afterall.
by Steven Harris G2G6 Pilot (509k points)
Steve, the problem with that theory is many of the Best Answer stars are awarded much too quickly -- sometimes within minutes of a question being posted, and before most members have even seen the question.  I suspect that can discourage some members from posting additional answers that may also have value to the questioner.
Yes, I agree with that. Particularly for questions about technical things, where answers may point in all sorts of confusing directions. First answer is not always best answer.

For genealogy questions in the close range it may be more appropriate to leave the selection to the user asking.

I didn't intend this post to be about how these things should be used or discussion of the best ways to use them.  My only purpose was to provide information about (in some cases) the fact that the functions exist and how to use them … however, as long as we're on opinions about their use ...

I think that, as a general rule, selection of best answer should be left to the person who asked.  The exceptions I see to a hard and fast rule about it are:

  1. If the person who asked is obviously very new and may not be able to assess that one answer is the correct and/or easiest way to do things in accordance with WikiTree policy.
  2. If someone has given an incorrect answer (which I've seen more often than I'd like) and someone else has selected it as best.  I usually try to correct the answer in a comment to it, without un-selecting it.

I agree with Dennis and, in fact, will raise his bar - I cringe when I see a fast answer that is not responsive to the question.  The worst of these are cases that just say that the person doesn't know the answer.  I have even seen these non-answers selected as best, often equally fast.

I completely agree that stars are often awarded ridiculously fast, and often for no good reason.  Dennis, if I could give you a star for that comment, I would!

People get G2G points for awarding stars, don't they?  I wonder if that's part of the problem?
I'm sure that in some cases, points are what drives these things - especially since you get points for an answer but not for a comment.  You also get points if your answer is starred, but I don't know if the person starring it gets anything.
I know that once I saw a list of how G2G points are awarded, but I've looked for it since and can't find it.

Here is one thread where points are discussed, but it is not recent:


I cringe when I see a fast answer that is not responsive to the question.  The worst of these are cases that just say that the person doesn't know the answer.  I have even seen these non-answers selected as best, often equally fast.

No argument form me here, I absolutely agree with this. 

Here is one thread where points are discussed, but it is not recent:

That post is still accurate. In many cases, you will see the same people selecting each other's answers over and over again in G2G - even when it is small-talk comment not related to the actual questions because they may find it amusing, etc.

I honestly wish they would either remove or overhaul the point system for G2G.


Well, if you want the votes restricted, (eliminating democracy thereby) install the software. 

I'm certain restricting the gold star award to the action (a vote for best answer) of the one who posed the question will 'cure' the clutter of stars appearing and disappearing ... in fact it would 'cure' a number of things that follow in the wake of "best answer" and "gold stars" and "voting" and ... 

Might actually be worth eliminating the democratic vote structure in this question of gold stars ... hmm ... 

He didn't say votes.  He said points.

Julie, you spent how many seconds on this niggle about what he said? (OMG) Votes equal points, points awarded for voting, actions followed by a computer clicking totals, ... the whole topic laid out here ... 

I've just been alerted to another place where there is information about points:

+13 votes
Here is a sample answer that you can all feel free to play with in order to experiment how you can select and un-select things.  Have at it!

PS  If this ends up getting hidden by 2 flags, would a leader please un-hide it so that it is once again available for experimentation - THANX!
by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (912k points)
Ha ha!  I finally tried it, Gaile.  When you flag something, the "flag" buttons turns into an "unflag" button.  Perfectly obvious!
Awesome, Gaile!
+11 votes
Gaile, thank you!  I had figured out all those things on my own except for the flag.  If I accidentally hit the flag, I was afraid that doing it again would make things worse.  Good to know that can be undone also.

While I'm thinking of it--it is also useful to visit one's own G2G profile and click on "Recents" when trying to find a thread, if you've forgotten exactly what it was but want to revisit it.  Also, anyone can view anyone else's recent posts from their G2G profile.  And the search box at the top of the G2G page can often turn up threads based on a key word or two.
by Julie Kelts G2G6 Pilot (433k points)
Julie, you can use the "sample answer" I put here to click the flag, then click it again (make sure you do it fast before someone else happens to try clicking it - if it gets clicked by 2 different people, it will be automatically hidden).  Your tips are very good ones - THANX for adding them.
+13 votes
Thanks Gaile, I don't know how many years I've been on WikiTree (or I do know but don't want to think about it, because it might mean I'm older than 21) and I've never known about the Favourites option.  That will make life much, much easier.
by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (482k points)
Oh, John, you're a man after my own heart - we're the same age!  Don't worry about remembering things from before you were born - I got my 3rd college degree in 1971 even though I was born in 1998 and next year I'll have been born in 1999. I'm just VERY precocious, wouldn't you say?

Trust me, John - if I can be 21 then you can certainly be whatever you want!
I feel like I just found members in my family tree! I don't know what "Relationship Finder" says about any pair of us. But, that's just software output.
+7 votes

Would love to know the trick to sort the resultset of queried questions, by date, by author, by commentator! Like searching "holocaust" gets me a randomly sorted resultset.

I hope such a trick is already available, but if not I would certainly like to see it made available. Even a standard LIFO sort would be enough for me.

by Jan Terink G2G6 Pilot (256k points)
I agree 100% - no, make that 1,000%.  It would be truly wonderful to be able to sort results, but if we have any options when searching, I don't know of them.

Even if we can't command a sort algorithm, I don't understand why there isn't any apparent order at all to G2G search results.  I fully agree that alone would be helpful - it would give us a feel for where to scroll to if we knew what the ordering is … but, alas, as far as I can tell, you're right - it seems random.
Yes Gaile,

Current implementation makes searching G2G hardly ever useful.
Can you ask a new question based on this request...."how does G2G determine how to sort results" or something like that?   I think it would be an interesting discussion.
+2 votes

Hi Gaille, I am working on "het Nederlands Portaal" (Dutch Portal), a kind of manual in Dutch next to the existing official help pages. I could not find the information you provide in the help pages so I pay attention to it on the page G2G of the Nederlands Portaal. Your information is very helpful so thanks for that. I have one question:

I saw a contradiction in your explanation of up and down votes. 

In: What they are, its said:

You can only vote once - when you click a choice, it will be highlighted and you can no longer make a selection.

In: What they do, its said:

You can click that triangle to undo your vote and will then be able to vote, either the same or differently or not at all.

I think the first one is how it's works, or am I missing something?

by Joop van Belzen G2G6 Pilot (122k points)
Joop, I did not word it clearly enough, but both are essentially true.

To start with, you see the green up and down triangles.  When you click one of them, it changes to a yellow triangle indicating which one you selected and appears that you are not able to vote any more.  

This is not completely true, though, because if you click the yellow triangle, it will un-do your vote and put both green triangles back, while also changing the vote count back.

Try clicking on an upvote or downvote arrow, then click again on the yellow arrow that results to see how it works.

Yes, I try it and you're right.  Thank you for explaining!

 yes Upvote 

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