5-star profiles by century

+23 votes
5-star profiles are the site's most popular profiles, by number of views.

And to a large extent they're probably the profiles people look at first, when they hear about WikiTree and have a look to see what it's like.

I looked at the numbers by century

1st century    41
2    68
3    70
4   140
5   148
6   165
7   255
8   313
9   593
10  890
11 1700
12 2183
13 2341
14 2871
15 3303
16 5136
17 9174
18 3491
19 1771
20 2967

Total about 38,000

About 80% (30,000) of the 5-star total are pre-1700, and half of those (15,000, 40% of the total) are pre-1500.  (And almost half of the pre-1500s are pre-1200)

Of the pre-1700 5-star profiles, about 20% (6,000) are project-managed.  In pre-1500 this falls to 15% (2,250).

This means almost 2/3 of all the 5-star profiles are non-project-managed pre-1700s.

And 1/3 of all the 5-star profiles are non-project-managed pre-1500s.  And sadly, an awful lot of those vary from junk to complete and utter total absolute garbage.  (PS.  This isn't being rude about the quality of work, it's about the shortage of records.)
in The Tree House by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (503k points)
retagged by Robin Lee
Good info; thanks for posting.

7 Answers

+12 votes

Powerful analysis, RJ!  Since these are the profiles most viewed, therefore the ones we're now making a push to reflect well on us, I think the ones that don't make us proud should not be on public display.  I have a proposal for how to deal with this:

  1.  Add a new privacy level - Embarassing - defined as open but with private biography.  The biography would only be displayed to logged in members.  This level could only be set for five star profiles.
  2. Start a Five Star project to work on getting the embarrassing profiles dressed nicely enough to be seen in public.  It could be a subproject of Profile Improvement.
by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (751k points)

Unfortunately, RJ's description of "junk to complete and utter total absolute garbage" is totally accurate. I've been trying to clean up some of the Norfolk problem profiles and, for many of those on the Suggestions/Unsourced lists, there is just nothing to support them (unless there is something hidden in an archive somewhere, which pretty much amounts to the same thing). Since we have a policy of not deleting a profile, the only way of not allowing them to sully our reputation would be to not allow them to be visible. Even hiding the biographies would imply some endorsement of the relationships. All I can think of as a solution is a very forceful disputed existence/relationship statement.

But making them not publicly visible (presuming they're still visible to logged-in members) creates a dilemma.  The five star profiles are the ones that get the most hits, so if they're not available to the public then that will decrease the hits we get … however, that defeats our purpose of increasing WikiTree's visibility for SEO.

It sounds like we need to pull out all the stops and focus all the fun'n'games activities (i.e., challenges, contests, thons, etc.) on the five stars to get a massive effort underway for this.  How about a moratorium on all the other contests and such-like until we get this task accomplished?  Examples:

  • Biobuilders monthly activity will be something like five star profiles born in the current month
  • Instead of scan-a-thon, it will be five star source-a-thon
  • All profiles of the week will be five star ones that need work and it will be collaborative effort - maybe have a month's worth going simultaneously with a month to work on each one before it is showcased
  •  All data doctor weekly challenges will only count five star profiles in their totals
  • (what activities am I missing?)
  • (what new activities can we come up with to keep the effort fresh?)
Why not have a Data Doctors challenge be only for 5 star profiles?
Data doctors are not the answer. DDs are OK for cleaning up lots of little technical problems, but not doing entire profiles. It takes someone ready to dive in and become an expert on the person and the relevant sources.
I understand they aren't the best suited to find sources and fix relationships, but they can clean files that weren't cleaned after merges, clean GED junk, add references tags so sources show, etc, fix missing ref tags and remove duplicated references.  Why not use this resource to some benefit rather than have these profile languish?
+10 votes
Yikes. This post reminds me that I need to get cracking on some of them. Thanks, RJ!
by Maggie N. G2G6 Pilot (720k points)
My thoughts as well, I have one and she needs work!
+9 votes

Early Scandinavia Project have tried to gather up some of the early profiles with "junk and utter total absolute garbage" that fits within the project.

Some of those early profiles most likely is a remain from WikiTrees early days when profiles for "persons" from the Norse sagas was created.

What should be done with profiles that are from legends/sagas that should be considered, more or less, fictional?? 

An example would be this profile, https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Av_Vanaheim-1, the wife of a man who was lured by a dwarf and dissappeared into a stone. The saga is written about 1225, and is more or less the only "source" there is. 

If profiles like this do not belong on WT, how do we decide what is historical and what is fictional profiles? All are not as easy as this example.

I have long wished for some form of "quarantine" for early  profiles that should be validated before being part of WT.

Edited to add: Profiles like this should really have no dates at all since we have no clue when they would have lived. Unfortunately, we can not save a profile without a date of birth or death and they generate a lot of errors before someone has the time to go through the whole family tree until somewhat historical figures appear and then guess backwards how long "a generation" would have been.

They will permanently be unconnected to the large tree and if they will never be part of someones family tree, should they really be represented by a profile on WT?

by Maggie Andersson G2G6 Mach 8 (87.6k points)
edited by Maggie Andersson
Many of these are suitable candidates for "Disproven Existence".  That's a way of quarantining them, because they're delinked from the main family tree.  It also removes them from the "junk" category because to be Disproven Existence, the Gedcom detritus needs to be removed and they need to be cleaned up with an explanation of what they are.
I think it is a bit depressing that with the no delete rule the best case scenario is that most of wikitree will one day be made up of people in the disproven existence category.

+9 votes
Good point RJ!

Obviously part of the cause of this is that these profiles can accumulate but there is not much we can really do about them, because of the way Wikitree is set up. Just fixing up the profiles of real people takes a lot of time. But proposing to delete or merge away a really bad profile takes more effort and so it is just not happening.

Everything is set-up to make discussions about how to fix profiles that look like they are not even real people extremely difficult. I think that is a deliberate policy? There are efforts to split them off and have part of Wikitree dedicated to legendary people but this is even more time consuming and can't ever really clean this problem up.

I think most Wikitree editors don't see the scale of this problem. They edit in their own area and don't hit Wikitree accidentally and they don't explore the vast bit of Wikitree which is junk. "Normal people" interested in genealogy and historical people are unfortunately most often going to find some of the worst "internet genealogy" ever here.
by Andrew Lancaster G2G6 Mach 8 (84.5k points)
+10 votes
Looking back to when the 5-star concept was introduced:
- Chris Whitten explains that "We're giving a profile the top ranking, five stars, if it has 1.) 1,000+ total page views and 2.) 100+ different visitors in the past year."

As for the 1,000+ total views, the majority of the pre-whatever junk profiles will have been imported in the early years when big GEDCOMs were allowed. Having been here for so long it is not strange they have accumulated a lot of views.

As for the 100+ views in the past year... well if such a lot of people search the Internet for names from fake nobility and fantasy genealogy that says something about what kind of genealogy Net users in general are interested in, doesn't it?
by Eva Ekeblad G2G6 Pilot (319k points)
In complete agreement, Eva.

The point about the 100+ views highlights why the pre-1500 five-star profiles should be such a priority to review and improve... unfortunately there are few WikiTreers qualified to do this, and still less interested in actually helping, unless they have a personal connection.

Just under 40% of the profiles are from the 16th and 17th centuries.

I think that one of the reasons for that is that many of these profiles are or  rather are claimed to be immediate ancestors of the earliest Europeans to settle in N America.It's obviously  an area of interest for many Americans and they form a large percentage of the viewers. It would be brilliant if they weren't looking at a fiction . (as an aside, I don't think many British Genealogists have heard of wiki-tree . I noticed that a handbook  of addresses and websites distributed by one of the popular magazines this month included a section on online trees; it had 12 sites including commercial ones, Family Search, Geni and Geneanet but no Wiki-tree). 

 From my area of focus (which is limited ) I agree that what they are looking at is often a fiction. Many parental connections  have no sources to back them up and very  often the previous generations are also unsourced and worse, very muddled. 

I think that our focus should be on these centuries. If we get them 'right' (only 14,000 odd surprise) my feeling is that a large number would end up being unlinked from the aristocratic pedigrees which form the bulk of the pre 1500 area . I also think we may end up with many twigs or prunings, groups of people who never existed or are inextricable conflations (all the Walter Williams and Mary Elizabeths) At the moment they often act to form a bridge between a brickwall and the pedigree of a well known family 

It does not require pre 1500 qualification to work on these centuries .This is in one way a benefit  since many people are self certified. If we were to have a push to work on these there are many more potential helpers.

It is also a drawback in that there are undoubtedly people who have self certified but  continue to edit or create profiles using  online trees bulked up with vague citations such as English Births and Christenings.

Yes. The great majority of 5 star profiles managed by the France project fall exactly within that category, except they are ancestors of early settlers in New France or the Cape Colony (this second group being by far the most problematic). I suspect the statistics would be the same for other, not project managed, French 5 star profiles.
+8 votes
Unfortunately these take a lot of time to really research and often you have to translate what you find and make it coherent.  

Also I have to wonder how man of these have been accessed by Data Doctors and in Thons because they show up on the various lists only to be closed down because they are too tough to work on in those environments.  So the counts they are getting may be erroneous.  

I am working on two notables.  Grandmother and her granddaughter that are often confused because of the same name.  First you have to untwist what is there and then redo it and add sources for them.  But even some sources confuse the two.  So it is tedious.
by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (565k points)
+6 votes
Unfortunately, the bulk of these were created when gedcoms were allowed to be imported without limitations.  With only a handful of people certified to handle pre-1500, it's a daunting task to try and clean them all up.  As you are well aware, it's not as simple as Googling the person and having information at your fingertips.  Reliable sources can be hard to locate or access.

My wish list for Santa would include being able to delete a bunch of these that have no sources.  One of the reasons many of them are '5-star' is that people are seeking information going back centuries for their lines.  They see that Wikitree has a long pedigree, and so they check it out.  But so many of them sit there with no sources or else only an ancestry tree (which generally is the same thing).
by Darlene Athey-Hill G2G6 Pilot (289k points)

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