Help:Variant Names Project

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

Editing Name Variants at WeRelate

The goal of the Variant Names 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 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.

How the Data is Used at WikiTree

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.
  • 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 21:24, 9 October 2021. This page has been accessed 3,562 times.