Help:Recently Deceased Strangers

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Anyone can create profiles of non-living people on WikiTree. We want everyone to help grow and enrich our collaborative tree. However, we need to be very sensitive when creating and editing profiles of people who died in the past few years if we are not a close family member.

If you are uncertain about how to implement the following guidelines, please ask for advice in G2G before creating the profile(s).

Family Privacy

Point V in our Honor Code reads: "We respect privacy. We privacy-protect anything we think our family members might not want public. If that's not enough for someone, we delete their personal information."

If we are not in contact with family members of the deceased we can only speculate about how they might feel and err on the side of caution.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Would the information be considered sensitive or private for a living person? If so, family members of the deceased might not want to see it online.
  • Is the information publicly available elsewhere? If so, privacy may not be a consideration. (However, if you are only using information that is widely available elsewhere see the section below on Added Value.)
  • Is the information in an obituary that appears to be written by family members or close friends of the deceased? The contents of a family-written obituary — whether there is one, and what it does and does not contain — may be a good indication of what the family feels comfortable about being publicized.
  • How long has it been since the person's passing? If a person died within the past few years family members may still be grieving and could be extraordinarily sensitive.

If you are not confident that family members would be comfortable seeing the information on WikiTree do not create the profile or keep it private until more years have passed. If you are uncertain, ask for input in G2G.

Courtesy and Respect

Point IV in our Honor Code reads: "We know misunderstandings are inevitable. We try to minimize them by being courteous to everyone."

Courtesy means respecting the feelings of others. Many people would find it disrespectful or even hurtful if you create a profile that only contains information about a person's death.

If the profile you are creating honors their life and their accomplishments, it is likely to be appreciated.

Added Value

Does the profile you are creating add value to our family tree and to the memory of this individual?

It is almost never a good idea to create a WikiTree profile with just a name, dates, and a link to an obituary or another website such as Find-A-Grave. But you will be adding value if you do any of the following:

  • Connect profiles of family members on WikiTree.
  • Upload an original photo or document you scanned. Gravestone photos are valuable in themselves as long as they are original and not copied from another source.
  • Add information that is not easily available elsewhere online.
  • Include a personal memory.
  • Write an original biography with multiple sources.

One easy way to know whether you are adding significant value is to ask yourself how much time you are spending on the person. If you are only spending a few brief minutes researching, preparing, and editing the profile of a recently-deceased person, do not create the profile.

See Research Before Editing for related information.

This page was last modified 15:32, 9 October 2021. This page has been accessed 2,466 times.