Categories: WikiTree Help
Is WikiTree related to Wikipedia?
No. WikiTree runs a highly customized version of the Mediawiki software created by our friends at Wikipedia. However, WikiTree and Wikipedia are completely independent wiki websites. Wikipedia is published by the Wikimedia Foundation.
For a comparison of WikiTree and Wikipedia from a content perspective, see The Encyclopedia of You.
Is WikiTree non-profit?
No. WikiTree is published by Interesting.com, Inc., a small business based in New York.
There are advantages and disadvantages to being a non-profit organization. Being recognized as a non-profit by the US government requires a fair amount of bureaucracy. (Chris Whitten, the founder of WikiTree, started a non-profit website in 1995 and operated it as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation until 2001.)
Moreover, a non-profit still has expenses. It needs donations and grants to pay the bills. Instead of spending our time improving the website and helping users grow the tree, we'd be spending our days writing grant applications and hitting up users for contributions.
Our philosophy is to run the technical back-end of WikiTree as a business. We take extraordinary steps to run a low-cost operation. This enables the expenses to be covered by modest advertisements on public web pages. We believe this is simpler and easier than being a non-profit corporation.
Is the worldwide family tree public domain?
This is not a simple question to answer. Some of the family tree information we host on WikiTree is free to be copied and redistributed. A lot of it is not. Only a lawyer can advise you on all the details. Some important considerations:
- Unlike on many websites, when you contribute to WikiTree you're not required to give up all copyrights on your photos and information. Contributors just give the website a license. We can't turn around and declare that all the content you contributed is in the public domain.
- Even if we had the legal right to make all the content on WikiTree public domain, we wouldn't make a lot of it public for privacy reasons. Privacy is a major consideration in everything we do at WikiTree.
- Some genealogy can't be copyrighted at all. US law doesn't allow basic facts to be copyrighted.
We do consider it part of our mission to make the worldwide family tree available for outside developers and researchers with non-profit purposes. If you're interested in this, see Project:WikiTree Apps.
Is WikiTree's software open source?
However, the core of WikiTree and most of the customizations we have made to Mediawiki are not open source. WikiTree isn't meant to be run in multiple installations. Our mission is to grow a single, collaborative family tree. We think it would be counter-productive to encourage others to start their own WikiTrees.
Moreover, if all our code were open, it could be easier for would-be hackers to defeat our privacy controls. We work hard to protect privacy. With all our code public we'd have to work even harder.
Are email addresses sold to spammers?
Absolutely not. We never sell email addresses or any other personal information to advertisers. We hate spam as much as you.
Why do we use wiki markup tags instead of WYSIWYG editing?
Many people ask why it isn't easier to edit profiles. Why do members have to learn these obscure "wiki markup" tags in order to edit?
Most websites and software tools use some sort of WYSIWYG ("What You See is What You Get") interface. The formatting markup is done in the background, without the user having to see the tags.
We have not ruled the possibility of adopting some sort of WYSIWYG editor in the future, perhaps based on the Mediawiki Foundation's Visual Editor. However, there would be disadvantages to doing this.
All WYSIWYG editors tend to "bloat" the text. As the user adjusts the formatting they unknowingly layer tags or formatting commands on top of each other. For example, let's say that a user decides to make a word bold, then changes their mind. The commands to make it bold and normal might both still be there in the background, one overriding the other.
The bloat problem is compounded by collaboration where users are editing the same text. The markup tags get more and more complicated as different members make their contributions and changes.
Bloat may not cause problems if the content is used by one website and it isn't intended to be distributed or used by others. However, the content we're growing on WikiTree is meant to be accessible to as many people as possible, today and long into the future — long after WikiTree.com is gone.
We want our genealogies and biographies to be accessible in media that we can't even imagine today. Bloating this content with extra markup tags makes it more complicated to work with, now and in the future.
What would happen to the tree if WikiTree.com disappeared?
We take this very seriously. See Protecting Our Shared Tree for an explanation of our contingency plans and extraordinary protections, and for tips for making sure your own private family history is preserved.
How do you contact us?
Feel free to say hello to any of us. However, if you have questions, please ask them in our member forum, G2G, unless they absolutely need to be kept private. In these cases, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
This page was last modified 15:18, 30 March 2020. This page has been accessed 16,252 times.