Help:Resolving a Disagreement

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Here are tips for resolving a disagreement. If you're having a serious problem with another member, start at Problems with Members first.


Disagreements about Content

Citing sources

Carefully citing appropriate sources can resolve most content disagreements.

If the profile is Open simply edit the narrative and add the source. If the profile is not open for editing, add the source information as a comment on the profile page.

For example:

  • Added directly to the narrative: Origins of the grandmother of President George Washington
  • Added as a comment on a profile page: "According to my source (Robert Charles Anderson, Great Migration Begins, p. 1108, which analyzes sources and research to date—i.e., 1995), there is no documented proof of the parents of Edward Johnson. Does anyone have a better source?"

Insufficient sources and certainty

Sometimes there are insufficient sources to directly prove a fact. Vital records may have been destroyed, or perhaps never existed, requiring analysis of a variety of pieces of information.

Resolving conflicting information in the face of insufficient sources is the height of genealogy collaboration on WikiTree. It is our greatest challenge.

To facilitate collaboration, consider attaching a G2G discussion to a profile to discuss the evidence. Focus on the content, not on the personality or characteristics of the other member.

Here are some examples from G2G:

Whether or not agreement can be reached through such a discussion, add a Research Notes section to the profile and summarize the issue there.

Note that it is not WikiTree policy to disconnect uncertain or unproven parents. This is why we have the Uncertain indicator for mothers and fathers. See Uncertain Parents.

If a Profile Manager or Trusted List member makes no response to any of these types of queries see Unresponsive Profile Managers.

Disagreements about Merging

Merging duplicate profiles is required. Having one profile per person is a fundamental part of WikiTree's single family tree mission and Honor Code.

When you disagree with a proposed merge, you have two options:

  • Reject the merge.
  • Temporarily postpone the merge with an “Unmerged Match".

In both cases, after having read the profiles and any associated comments/G2G posts, use the explanation box to indicate the reason (and source, if you’ve got one) for your decision.

For example:

  • (When rejecting a merge:) "The two people are distinct; one is a brother who died young; the other was born years later, but given the same name. See Vital Records of Ipswich, Massachusetts, vol. 1, p 396.”
  • (When postponing a merge:) “These two do look to be the same, but we need to resolve the two different sets of parents before we complete the merge. Do you have a source for which parents are correct?”

These comments will appear on the profile(s) of the two profiles. The person who proposed the merge, Profile Managers, and members of the Trusted List will be alerted that these messages have been posted.

If disagreements continue, follow the steps in “Disagreements about Content" above.

Disagreements about Formatting

In 2013, a Style Committee was formed to develop standards for how best to format biographies, including sources and acknowledgements.

The current recommendations are incorporated into the Style Guide, for example:

If a dispute about formatting arises, please point to these style guides. If the disputed formatting is not addressed in any Style Guide pages, post a question in G2G so that the issue may be discussed, resolved, and the conclusion added (by Leaders) to the Style Guide.

Disagreements about Privacy

Background reading: Privacy and Ownership and control.

If anyone objects to the presence of information about themselves, their underage child, or any child under 13, it should be removed. If someone is not following this rule, see Privacy Conflicts.

If anyone objects to information about one of their non-living direct nuclear family members (sibling, spouse, child, or parent) it should be removed.

Disagreements about the privacy of more-distant deceased relatives can get complicated. For example, two cousins might disagree about whether their grandparent's illegitimate birth should be made public. In general, err on the side of sensitivity, caution and courtesy. You might explore ways to preserve information without publicizing it.

Disagreements about Control

On WikiTree all profiles need to be open to collaboration among family members.

If the profile is for a person who was born over 150 years ago or who died over 100 years ago no member has any more right to control the profile than any other member. See Ownership and control.

If the person was born in the past 150 years, relatives within four or five degrees of separation can control access and editing to themselves. See Privacy.

Family members cannot restrict access to their shared parents, grandparents, etc. That is, siblings cannot have separate versions of their parents' profiles, cousins cannot have separate profiles of their grandparents, etc.

An individual can restrict access to their own profile and profiles of their minor children, even from their own close family members.

It is worth noting that every significant contributor to WikiTree has signed the Wiki Genealogy Honor Code, which concludes with:

IX. We are united in a mission to increase the world's common store of knowledge. We always respect copyrights and privacy, but we keep information as free and open as possible.

Privacy controls are for privacy, not control. WikiTree is all about collaboration.

Disagreements about Member Conduct

See Courtesy and Problems with Members.

This page was last modified 15:22, 31 May 2023. This page has been accessed 4,653 times.