Help:WikiTree Challenge

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Categories: WikiTree Help | Challenges

This challenge is all new. Some details are subject to change. The first two January challenges will be used as tests. Scores for these first weeks may not be counted for the year-long challenge.

Join us in G2G for the current's week challenge with CeCe Moore.

The WikiTree Challenge is our biggest community event ever. Each week in 2021, a team of WikiTreers will be collaborating on the tree of a special genealogy guest star. Our challenge is to improve their publicly-accessible genealogy — to make it more accurate and complete than it previously was on any public family tree website.


Challenge Purpose

Our goals:

  • evaluate and improve accuracy on WikiTree,
  • consider where and why other trees are more accurate and complete,
  • make new friends.

We expect that many of our genealogy guest stars will have more accurate and fully developed trees elsewhere. WikiTree won't always compare favorably. But WikiTree will always be better at the end of the week than it was at the start of the week. And at the end of the year, we will have ideas for continuing WikiTree's growth and improvement.

Genealogy Guest Stars

Each week a team of WikiTreers will focus on the tree of a special guest.

These guests are "genealogy stars" — men and women who have made significant contributions to the genealogical world, e.g.:

  • Authors and editors of books and journals.
  • Entrepreneurs and genealogy business leaders.
  • Creators of innovative software tools.
  • Bloggers and online opinion leaders.
  • Heads of genealogical societies and associations.
  • Top speakers at genealogy conferences.
  • Producers of genealogy-related TV shows, video series, and podcasts.
  • Public personalities with a known interest in genealogy.

Our first guest star, featured January 6-13, will be AJ Jacobs. In February we will be featuring Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Although many active WikiTree members are genealogy stars, we will be inviting guests who do not use WikiTree as their primary tree.


  • Finished: 6-12 January (1 week), WikiTree Challenge, Week 1 - AJ Jacobs, , Tracker
  • Active: 13-19 January (1 week), WikiTree Challenge, Week 2 - CeCe Moore, , Tracker
  • Upcoming: 20-26 January (1 week), WikiTree Challenge, Week 3 - Jonny Perl

Before the challenge

Before the week they are featured, we will ask the guest: Is your family tree public? Where do you point your cousins who want to see your family tree?

If they maintain or contribute to a publicly-accessible tree with visible sources, we will use this as our "comparison tree" for the week. If they keep their tree private, we will ask them to share a small amount of information privately so that the team captain can create WikiTree profiles for some of their grandparents or great-grandparents. We will then select a comparison tree from among the other large collaborative tree sites, e.g. FamilySearch Tree, Geni, or WeRelate. We will choose whichever appears to currently have the best tree for the guest star.

After the challenge

At the end of their week, we will show the guest star all the missing information and mistakes on the two trees that were identified by challenge participants. In particular, we will highlight any new or corrected information that WikiTreers were able to add. In some cases, we might even show them something that was behind one of their brick walls!

Then we will ask the guest, how did we do? If a family member or cousin wants to see your shared ancestry, would you show them WikiTree or the comparison site or both? Which tree more accurately and fully presents your genealogy, and in what ways?

They can answer however they like, in writing, audio or video. We will publish their answer on G2G for our community, and share it on social media.

We'll also invite them to choose a "Let the Sources Decide" or "Enjoy Genealogy" t-shirt or item of their choice.

Team Collaboration and Competition

This is a collaborative and competitive challenge.

Each week, members will work together on a team. Different teams will participate in different weeks. Challenge winners will be the top-scoring teams and members for the month and year.

Challenge Coordinator

This year-long challenge will be led by Mindy Silva. Mindy will be coordinating with team captains, helping with registration, and helping the WikiTree Team with what is our most ambitious event ever.

If you have any questions or problems regarding challenge, contact Mindy.

Team Captains

Each week's team is led by a team captain or co-captains.


The team captain role is very important in this challenge. Captains will:

  • Coordinate with the guest star in advance to prepare the starting profiles of grandparents or great-grandparents.
  • Participate in the kick-off event to introduce the guest star and starting profiles.
  • Lead the collaboration during the week so that researchers are coordinating their work when they are investigating the same ancestors.
  • Monitor progress and provide gentle guidance if they notice participants getting off track, e.g. creating profiles without sources.
  • Verify the identification of mistakes and missing information and award point bounties for them.
  • Participate in the wrap-up event at the end of the week.

Like all genealogists on WikiTree, team captains are volunteers. Although they are not compensated, we can offer:

  • The sincere appreciation of our community.
  • A "Team Captain" badge.
  • A "WikiTree Challenge Team Captain" t-shirt or item of their choice.
  • Bragging rights if their team has the highest score in a month.
  • A real, physical trophy if their team has the highest score for the year.

The current team captain list:

  • Mindy Silva & Cheryl Hess
  • Azure Robinson
  • Sarah Mason
  • Joan Whitaker & Janet Wild
  • Emma MacBeath
  • Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz
  • Christine Daniels

How to Participate

Challenges will be running for almost every week in 2021, from Wednesday to Wednesday. Each week, there will be a G2G thread for announcements and discussions. Everyone is invited to participate, even if they haven't registered, but only those who register will have their points counted.

Advance registration

Members who plan to participate are asked to register in advance. This enables us to coordinate teams and award points.

Registration will open during the first week of each month. To participate in any one of the February challenges you need to register in January, to participate in one of the March challenges you register in February, etc.

Participants who register for any week during a month will get the participation badge for the month.

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Registration for February is now open!


Here are the scores:

One point is awarded for creating a sourced WikiTree profile of an ancestor or nuclear relative of an ancestor of the guest star. This is the second column of the statistics table labeled "Created profiles."

In addition to the points for creating ancestor profiles, participants can earn special bonus points for the following. This is the third column labeled "Bounty points."

Point bounty #1: Mistaken ancestry on WikiTree

Ten extra points are awarded if you prove that a parent-child relationship anywhere in the guest star's ancestry on WikiTree is incorrect.

Ten points will be awarded for every mistaken ancestor of the guest star that is corrected. Note that uncertain or unproven parents should not be removed. They should be marked as "Uncertain." Only disproven parent-child relationships should be removed and counted.

Fixing other mistakes, adding sources, and improving profiles in other ways is encouraged but not counted. Also, mistakes that were added during or shortly before the challenge will not be counted.

Point bounty #2: Mistaken or missing ancestry on comparison tree

Ten extra points will be awarded if you find a mistaken parent-child relationship in the guest star's ancestry on the comparison tree or break a brick wall on the comparison tree.

Breaking a brick wall means adding a father or mother to WikiTree who is not on the comparison tree for an ancestor who is on the comparison tree. This bounty is only awarded for one generation. Therefore, a bounty can be 20 points if both a father and mother are found, but no additional bounties can be awarded on that family line. Additional ancestors are just one point each as described in the basic scoring section.

Mistakes that the participant themselves added to the comparison tree will not be counted.

How to collect a point bounty

To collect the special bonus points, first post what you have found in the G2G thread for the week's challenge. The team captain will then verify the information, award your points, and reply to say that it has been done, or ask for more information.

The team captain can choose to split the point bounty if members worked together. Decisions of the captain can be appealed to the challenge coordinator if there is any controversy.

Note that the G2G thread serves as our reporting document to the genealogy guest star. This is how we will show them what we fixed and discovered. It's the showcase for the power and enjoyment of collaboration in our community.

Fine print on scoring

Scores will be recalculated every hour. Automatically-awarded points for adding profiles will always be included in the recalculations but manually-awarded point bounties may take longer (since they need to be verified and added manually).

Points will only be awarded for profiles within 30 generations of the guest star (deeper ancestors are usually before the year 1000).

Points will be removed if they were awarded for an ancestor who is later disconnected. That is, if points were awarded for adding or correcting ancestors who are later shown to be unrelated to the guest star, those points will not be counted when scores are recalculated. This could result in dramatic changes to scores.

Similarly, points will be removed if they were awarded for an ancestor who is later merged into a profile that existed previously.

Unscored statistics

The true value of genealogy contributions is impossible to measure. Scores are for fun. They are not meant to be comprehensive summaries of participants' contributions. For this challenge in particular, the scores are very narrowly focused on certain types of contributions, as described above.

In order to show a wider range of contributions, everyone who has edited an ancestor or nuclear family member of an ancestor of the guest star during the challenge is listed on the table. These are the columns for "Profiles Edited" and "Total Edits." The former shows the number of unique profiles that were edited by the participant while the latter shows the total number of edits.

Awards and Prizes

In addition to participation badges:

  • Anyone who collects a point bounty will get a "Bounty Hunter" badge.
  • Every week's highest-scoring member will get a "Team MVP" badge. The team captain cannot be MVP.
  • Every month,
    • every member of the highest-scoring team will get a "WikiTree Challenge Winner" badge.
    • the highest-scoring member on the highest-scoring team will be invited to select a "Let the Sources Decide" or "Enjoy Genealogy" t-shirt or other item.
  • At the end of the year, the team captain of the highest-scoring team overall will be sent a physical trophy inscribed with the names of the highest-scoring teams for each month and their MVPs.

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Live Chats

Every Wednesday night we host a live video chat. This will be the kick-off event for the challenge that is starting, and the wrap-up of the challenge that is ending.

Participation will vary, but we will be inviting both team captains and both genealogy guest stars for the challenges that are starting and ending.

The team captain for the challenge that is starting will be invited to introduce the guest star and their ancestors who will be the starting points of our challenge. They may also use the event to help initiate the coordination of research among team members.

The team captain for the challenge that is ending will be asked, How did their team do? What did WikiTree and the comparison tree have at the beginning of the week? What was added and fixed? Were there any discoveries? Are there any lessons that WikiTree can learn from the comparison tree?

On Saturdays we also plan to host a mid-week check-in, and some teams will use Discord, email, or other systems to communicate and coordinate, but this is optional.

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This page was last modified 15:56, 17 January 2021. This page has been accessed 5,866 times.