Help:Variant Names Project

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Editing name variants at WeRelate

Dallan Quass and the members of WeRelate.org, another family tree wiki, operate the Variant Names Project.

The goal of this worthy project is to develop a reliable database of given names and surnames that should be searched along with an entered name. For example, when searching for John Smith you might also want to look for Jon Smyth, Johnathan Smythe, etc.

The initial database for the project was developed through a complex program written by Dallan using extensive data provided by Ancestry.com and other organizations. His method produced a database that's better than the "Soundex" familiar to many genealogists. But he didn't want to stop there. In order to improve upon what his program produced he has enabled genealogists to add and remove name variants in a wiki way.

Moreover, Dallan generously made all his code available to others along with the database that's being continuously improved-upon by volunteers. This way, sites like WikiTree can take advantage of it and genealogists everywhere can benefit.

You can help by clicking over to the project, creating a WeRelate account, and editing the lists of variants. A warning, however: A number of WikiTree members have been disappointed in the difficulty of successfully editing the database and seeing the results back on WikiTree. The Variant Names Project is no longer in an active development by Dallan and updates are infrequent. -- Whitten-1 12:51, 9 June 2016 (EDT)

How the data is used at WikiTree

We currently only use the surname variants, not the given name variants.

We use the surname database in two basic ways:

  1. Surname variants in our searches (including Person Search, Find Matches, automatic matches when creating profiles, and GEDCOMpare and MatchBot for early profiles).
  2. "See also" links on surname index pages.

Some notes about our implementation:

  • We update the database periodically (last update October 2015).
  • We only show the top 10 or 15, depending on the context and whether you're logged-in. If there are more than 10 or 15 variants, they won't all appear.
  • The top names aren't the closest matches. On surname index pages they're the ones with the most individuals on WikiTree. For example, Smithson will appear above Smyth as an alternate for Smith if there are more Smithsons than Smyths on WikiTree.
  • If there are no individuals with the surname on WikiTree, the alternate won't appear as a "see also" link. For example, Smth might be listed as an alternate for Smith, but since we have nobody on WikiTree named Smth there will be no link to a Smth index.


This page was last modified 00:55, 29 December 2017. This page has been accessed 776 times.