Help:Problems with Members

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Has someone on WikiTree angered or annoyed you? Is someone causing problems or doing damage to our shared tree? This page is a starting point for all types of problems with members.

"I wish that the world we live in was more like the WikiTree community. I have never been involved in a more fair system in my entire life. There are conflicts but that is because there are more than two people in the community!"Cindy Lesure
member since 2014

Members and non-members alike should use this to report problems. Mentors, Rangers, Project Leaders, and Team Members should start here too. It is required for referrals, mentoring, mediation, and other escalation.

Following the Q&A in order should direct you to the proper action. Go in order even if there have been repeated problems with the same member.

If you don't know whether or not what someone is doing is a problem, or if you're having trouble applying this method to your current situation, ask in G2G using the tags mentors and project_leaders. Please explain the situation without mentioning any names or personal details.

Question #1: Is this person a spammer or vandal?

1A.) Yes

If you've caught someone posting spam or childish vandalism go to Emergency Blocks.

1B.) No

If the person's isn't a spammer or juvenile delinquent proceed to question #2.

Question #2: Has this person violated your personal privacy or that of a child?

2A.) Yes

If this problem concerns information about you or a child being made public see Privacy Conflicts.

2B.) No

If this isn't about privacy proceed to question #3.

If this is about family privacy but a Privacy Take-Down Request isn't appropriate because the information isn't about you or a minor child skip to question #4.

Question #3: Is this an emergency?

3A.) ➤ Is it happening right now?

If the person doesn't appear to be online right now and actively doing damage, and you don't have good reason to think they'll be online later today doing damage, it's not an emergency.

3A.1.) ➤ ➤ Will it be hard to fix later?

Even if they're doing damage right now, but their damage could be reversed fairly easily later, it's not an emergency.

These are hard to fix:

  • bad merges (even just a few)
  • large numbers of improper changes to Last Names at Birth (more than a few)
  • very large numbers of obvious duplicates (dozens)
  • public posting of very sensitive private material (any at all, see question #2).

Most everything else is relatively easy to fix by reverting the edits, deleting the bad comments, merging the duplicates, adding sources that were left out, etc.

Experienced WikiTreers know that there are a lot of mistakes being made here every day. We all make them. Making mistakes and correcting them is part of how WikiTree works.

3A.1.a.) Yes

If the person is doing a lot of damage right now — intentionally or unintentionally — and it will be very hard for them or others to fix their mistakes later see Emergency Blocks.

3B.) No

If this is not an emergency because the member is not doing damage right now or their damage could be fixed later proceed to question #4.

Question #4: Has this person's behavior upset you?

4A.) Yes

If you're feeling any negative emotions because of what this person has said or done — even significant annoyance or frustration — stop and drop the problem for now.

Come back and start here at question #4 again later.

If you feel that the added delay will make this an emergency file a Mentor Intervention Request and select option 4A.

4A.1.) ➤ After returning has it upset you again?

After relaxing and returning, has thinking about what they have said or done made you angry or frustrated again? If so you shouldn't be dealing with this alone. File a Mentor Intervention Request (MIR). Select option 4A.1.

Unless you're completely calm you're not the best member to be talking to this person about what they have done. Even if you are a Mentor, Ranger, Leader, or Team Member, let someone else take over by filing an MIR.

If this person is making you angry they may be making others angry as well. Mentors and Mediators may find that MIRs form a pattern where certain members — even if they're good genealogists with good intentions — are incapable of participating on WikiTree without making others angry. This may eventually escalate to account termination. Courtesy is not optional on WikiTree. It's in our Honor Code.

Sometimes we see an inverse pattern. Some members are repeatedly made angry by others. It takes a special kind of person to participate on WikiTree at a high level without getting angry. We have an emotional attachment to the subject matter and collaboration isn't easy, especially since it's not face-to-face. Many good genealogists don't have the patience for wiki genealogy and need to scale back their participation.

4B.) No

If you're feeling relaxed proceed to question #5.

Question #5: Can you assume this person has good intentions?

Our Honor Code says: "We assume that mistakes are unintentional when others make them and ask for the same understanding."

Is there any doubt in your mind about whether or not this person is intentionally causing problems? If so, can you give them the benefit of the doubt while you proceed?

5A.) Yes

If you can assume good intentions proceed to question #6.

5B.) No

If you cannot assume good intentions — if you're convinced that this person is knowingly violating the Honor Code that they have signed, doesn't agree with the community's mission yet is still participating in the community, or is otherwise ignoring community rules that they fully understand — it's time to escalate with a Mentor Intervention Request. Select option 5B.

Question #6: Have you contacted the person about the problem?

6A.) Yes

6A.1.) ➤ Did they reply to you?

If you have sent a message to the person about the problem (see the "No" answer below if you haven't yet), did you get a response?

If the person has not responded and does not appear to be active on WikiTree at all see Unresponsive Profile Managers.

If the person has not responded and is continuing with problematic behavior it's possible they didn't get your message. You could try another method, e.g. direct email instead of a private message or posting a profile comment, if that's possible. Or you could file a Mentor Intervention Request and select option 6A.1. Someone else may be able to get a message through to them.

6A.1.a.) ➤ ➤ Did they reply in anger?

If they replied in a hostile manner someone needs to tell them Don't WikiTree While Angry. It should not be you. You're already the focus of their anger. File a Mentor Intervention Request and select option 6A.1.a.

Keep in mind that it's very common for a person's tone to be misinterpreted if they're not good at communicating in writing or if they write messages too quickly. Be sure to read their message multiple times and consider any possible way to interpret their words. Give them every possible benefit of the doubt.

6A.1.b.) ➤ ➤ Did they reply in disagreement?

If they don't agree that what they're doing is incorrect:

  1. Find a WikiTree help page, style page, or G2G question that explains it. Copy the URL.
    • If you cannot find a page that clearly explains the exact issue ask a new question in G2G. Wait for the answer and then continue. See Finding the Question in a Conflict if you're having trouble.
  2. If you can do it patiently and calmly (question #4) and assuming good intentions (question #5), contact them again and include the URL. If you can't do it yourself, file a Mentor Intervention Request and select option 6A.1.b.

6B.) No

If you've gotten this far,

  • you care about the problem,
  • it's not an emergency,
  • you're not angry about it, and
  • you assume the person has good intentions.

You are the perfect person to contact them. :-)

6B.1.) ➤ Can you correct their mistakes delicately?

Talking to someone about their mistakes is a delicate business. We all make mistakes but nobody likes having them pointed out.

It's especially delicate because you're doing this in writing. The other person can't see your smiling face and hear your friendly tone of voice.

See Resolving a Disagreement and Courtesy for tips. You can also ask for advice from the community in G2G. We have all dealt with similar problems.

If you don't have time to choose your words carefully wait until you do.

If waiting would make this an emergency file a Mentor Intervention Request and select option 6B.1.

If you find yourself consistently unable or uninterested in writing delicately-worded messages consider scaling back your participation on WikiTree.

This page was last modified 14:33, 9 October 2021. This page has been accessed 59,076 times.