Project: Style Committee

Categories: Style Committee

As WikiTree grows — both in number of contributors and number of profiles — the variety of approaches to editing profiles is increasing exponentially. A committee was formed to discuss and draft style guidelines that will ultimately be added to Styles & Standards.

Note that the following is out of date. The first round of style decisions has been finalized. See Styles & Standards for the current set. Whitten-1 09:43, 30 December 2013 (EST)


Why a Committee (and not just a set of G2G questions)?

While topics in G2G generate some good discussion, we all know that often such conversations get lost. With a committee, we can set an agenda, ask a small group of people for input, have a deadline, etc.

Committee Evolution & Process

  1. Admin requested the creation of the committee and nominated (to the Leaders group) a chair (Jillaine Smith then. A new chair is now needed). Leaders supported the nomination.
  2. Announce the formation of the committee a) in the Leaders group, then b) G2G and ask for volunteers.
  3. When the committee is formed, list the specific goals and questions to be addressed, including how decisions will be made.
  4. Set a deadline for the release of the initial recommendations.
  5. The committee discusses the issues privately.
  6. Post the initial set of recommendations first to the Leaders group, then to G2G. Set a deadline for when feedback should be received.
  7. Feedback in hand, the committee reopens their private discussion. After a set period, they release their final set of recommendations.
  8. The final set of recommendations is posted. Other community members would have a chance to object, but this would not be open-ended. A few days after posting the style changes would be accepted in part or in full as the WikiTree standard.

Committee Principles

  1. Honor the Honor Code.
  2. Focus on issues, not personalities.
  3. Keep committee's desired outcomes at the forefront of our discussions and decisions.
  4. Remember the definition of a standard:
    1. a level of quality or attainment.
    2. an idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations.

Committee Scope

DRAFT The following are suggested areas of attention for the style committee. When the committee is formed and launched, we will discuss, modify, decide and prioritize:
  • Suggestions for writing and/or organizing New Draft Biography Guidelines. Includes principles behind the creation of Style guidelines; also includes recommendations for encouraging contribution and collaboration (including addressing the concern that some profiles come off so "complete" that they discourage potential collaboration/contribution).
    • Do we distinguish styles of biographies for HSAs vs more recent people? Is there any need to have different styles for different types of profiles?
      • Currently considering Basic and Advanced, instead. -- Smith-32867 12:36, 22 September 2013 (EDT)
  • Purpose and use of profile headers, including (but not limited to):
  • Credit

Not Addressed by the Style Committee

  • Use of Wikipedia text
  • Recommendations for use of graphic/image elements in a profile (including "background")
  • Recommended number of [1] for a single profile (especially for HSAs).
    • Under what conditions are more limited number of PMs recommended?
  • How conflicts and disagreements will be resolved
    • about content
    • about style alignment
    • when and how to use the different profile feedback options -- bulletin board on profile, link to G2G topic, private message
  • Draft recommendations for how best implement the resulting style guide
    • Could include links to good how-to resources, such as that suggested above by Breen-120

Committee Members & Areas of Interest

  1. Jillaine - keeping the conversation moving forward, drafting/editing/communications
  2. Bob Fields
  3. Erin Breen
  4. Maggie - I think everyone knows I basically subscribe to the less-is-more approach to styles, and getting sources on while keeping it simple.
  5. Ellen Curnes
  6. Maureen Rosenfeld
  7. Michelle Hartley
  8. R Geleick
  9. John Atkinson - referencing and sources
  10. Sonia Parsons Haga - citations


  • Chris Whitten
  • Lianne Lavoie
  • Eowyn Langholf

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