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Surnames/tags: GEDCOM Sources challenges
Profile manager: Kay Knight private message [send private message]
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GEDImprove (GEDI)

Our goal is to improve profiles so that they are properly structured, sourced, free of suggestions, and are non duplicative of other profiles. We also identify profiles for further work via the addition of applicable maintenance categories. To do this, we collaborate to improve profiles following the guidance for

Biographies, Sources, Pre-1700 Reliable Sources, GEDCOM created profiles, Profile Improvement, Merging Profiles, Merged Profile Cleanup, Clearing Suggestions, Duplicates, Maintenance Categories and Collaboration.


Become a GEDI Contributor

Contribute by improving profiles using the steps described below. You should review Help for GEDCOM-Created Biographies for a good refresher on cleaning GEDCOM imported profiles.

If you want to work as teams, urge each other on, or just chat, join us on the gedi-challenge channel on Discord. Here's the link for Discord -

We are using a shared spreadsheet that lists profiles to improve. By picking a profile on the spreadsheet you are telling another WikiTreer "I am working on this" and are also helping track our progress. Here is the spreadsheet.

Want a sticker? Use the following:



{{GEDI|number=xx}} <-- replace "xx" with the # of profiles you improved

Improve Profiles

Some profiles, particularly those that have no biography or sources are very quick and easy to address. Those with many sources can be more complex. Here's a handy checklist of steps for improving a profile. Click on any step for more detailed information.

  1. Select a profile to improve from the spreadsheet
  2. Collaborate with active Profile Manager and/or Project
  3. Collaborate via Shared Spreadsheet
  4. Cleanup after merge
  5. Add required headings
  6. Retain or remove information about the GEDCOM
  7. Remove unneeded GEDCOM sections
  8. Capture external family tree Information
  9. Review the Note section
  10. Review Birth and Death sections
  11. Review Marriage section
  12. Add optional Research Notes
  13. Cleanup sources using span tags
  14. Cleanup links to file names
  15. Add dates
  16. Add or update birth and death locations
  17. Review sources
  18. Review suggestions
  19. Add/preserve maintenance categories
  20. Describe your changes and save the profile
  21. Update Suggestions Status
  22. Update marriage dates and locations
  23. Check for category errors
  24. Check for other profile issues
  25. Check for duplicate profiles
  26. Update profile review status

Select a profile to improve from the spreadsheet

  1. Open the shared spreadsheet. Move to the GEDI Overview tab. To move to the Overview tab, pick the menu at the lower left and select that tab.
  2. Review the available GEDCOM to find one that you wish to work on. If a project is listed, coordinate with the applicable project for any special considerations for looking at these profiles. Click on the link for the GEDCOM to open the tab for that GEDCOM.
  3. Select a profile to improve


What will you be doing to the profile? Communication before editing provides guidelines for when to be bold, and when to coordinate before editing. If you will be changing dates or relationships or making other major changes, and the profile has an active Profile Manager then you should coordinate. You can see if a Profile Manager is active by looking at their contributions. Sometimes it only takes one coordination with a Profile Manager for any profile created via their GEDCOM import. If the profile falls under a Project, coordinate with the project and follow the guidance for the Project.

Here are links to Projects that are working on GEDCOM cleanup:

Collaborate via Shared Spreadsheet

On the GEDI spreadsheet tab for the GEDCOM, enter your WikiTree ID in the Reviewer ID column for the profile. This will let others know that you are improving this profile.

Cleanup after merge

When a profile has been merged but not cleaned up after the merge, the merge cleanup should be done first, as you will rearrange content into a single == Biography == and == Sources == sections as described in the actions for cleaning profile after a merge and Merging Profiles.

Add required headings

If you plan to use the the WikiTree AGC (Automatic GEDCOM Cleanup) extension, it may be best to do this before you add headings. Ensure that the profile has the following required sections:

== Biography ==
== Sources ==
<references />

Ensure that the <references /> line immediately follows the == Sources == heading.

Ideally you will be adding content to the Biography and under Sources as you continue cleanup of the profile, and address the contents of Notes, Birth, Death, and Marriage.

Retain or remove information about the GEDCOM

WikiTree does not provide specific policy to retain or remove information about the GEDCOM in the profile biography. In all cases where a profile falls under a specific project, the guidelines for that project should be followed. When the name of the GEDCOM is left in the profile, then a WikiTree+ search for the GEDCOM name will find that profile. Although the name of the GEDCOM can be found by looking through the profile Change history, it may be advisable to keep the name of the GEDCOM for profiles that are the survivors of multiple merges. If the profile has been improved to follow the style guidelines, has sources or the {{Unsourced}} tag and has a biography or a Needs_Biography category there is no need to keep the name of the GEDCOM. To remove the name of the GEDCOM, delete the line that looks like "This person was created through the import of NameOfGed.ged on dd Month Year.". To keep the name of the GEDCOM, move this line to an == Acknowledgements == section at the end of the profile. If the profile has been merged and was created via several GEDCOM imports, there may be several lines in the Acknowledgements, as can be seen in this profile.

Since the GEDImprove Challenge uses the name of the GEDCOM in the biography to find profiles for a GEDCOM, it is recommended that this be kept.

Remove unneeded GEDCOM sections

GEDCOM created sections that can be deleted are identified in GEDCOM-Created Biographies help and in Suggestion 853 GEDCOM junk and include:

=== Data Changed ===
=== User ID ===
=== LDS Endowment ===
=== LDS Baptism ===
=== Record File Number ===
=== Submitter ===
=== Object ===
=== COLOR ===
=== UPD ===

Capture external family free Information

Do not remove external family tree references, but instead move these to See Also: under Sources. These trees can provide clues to find sources or relationships. External family trees might be identified via a Family Search Family Tree ID, in the form LXCD-Y7S, sometime prefaced by FSFTID. Similarly, keep the Ancestral File Number (AFN), a GENI Tree (GENI focus id=xxx), a MyHeritage Tree (MH:####), or an Ancestry Tree (referenced as Wrap the reference to an Ancestry tree using the Ancestry Family Tree template.

Review the Note section

Many old GEDCOM imported profiles will have a === Note === section. This often includes information that should be converted into applicable biography text and source citations. The sources can be listed as bullet items (using a *) following the <references /> tag or embedded as references in the biography using the <ref>Insert reference here</ref> tags.

Review Birth and Death sections

There may be === Birth === and === Death === sections. If these merely duplicate information that can be found elsewhere, they can be deleted, but if they include source information they should be incorporated into the biography narrative, as shown in the help examples.

Review Marriage section

There may be a === Marriage === section. If there is source information, convert it to a proper citation and include in the narrative as shown in the help, and add a === Children === section for the children. If the marriage is for the profile's parents, however, check the parents to see if the marriage information is already in those profiles. If the parent's marriage is already in the parent's profiles, it can be deleted from the child. If the parent's marriage is not in the the parent's profiles, place the narrative and children under the == Research Notes == section and note that it is for the parents. If you are using the AGC extension, this may be done for you.

Add optional Research Notes

Add a == Research Notes == section (before == Sources ==) to capture information about genealogical research, as opposed to information about the person's life. This can also be used for things such as the Marriage data that applies to the parents. For Pre-1700 profiles, sources that are not Reliable Pre-1700 sources, such as family trees, should be moved to Research Notes.

Cleanup sources using span tags

Some profiles created via GEDCOM import may use a number of span tags. These can be replaced with a direct <ref> citation. You can do this by finding the citation for the span id to build the ref.

Cleanup links to file names

When a source is a link to a file that was on someone's computer and there is no information other than the file name, this can be replaced with a better citation or {{citation needed}} as described in the help.

Add dates

Examine the information on the profile to add birth and death dates, if missing. If the profile does not have dates and none of the sources on the profile provide dates, find and add a source for the date. Refer to more information on finding dates. If the person might still be living and there is no profile manager add [[Category: WikiTree Admin]] above the Biography header.

Add or update birth and death locations

Examine the information on the profile to add missing birth and/or death locations. Expand existing locations that are abbreviated or do not include the country. Correct misspellings, separators or wrong words in the locations. For example, most people didn't actually die in a cemetery and this should move to the biography narrative. After the profile has been saved, marriage date and location can be updated (see below). The suggestions for the profile should report locations that need update.

Review sources

Review the sources for the profile. See the help guidance for poorly formatted sources. Does the profile qualify for the {{Unsourced}} research notes box? It is unsourced if it lacks clear identification of where any of the information on the profile came from or, for a Pre-1700 profile if none of the sources are Pre-1700 Reliable Sources.

Add sources if you can, otherwise add the {{Unsourced}} research notes box, preferably with the location, such as {{Unsourced|Iowa|Germany}}. Up to two locations can be used. See Tips and Tricks "Is This Sourced?" below. To search for sources, either use the Research link on the profile menu or use WikiTree Sourcer (WTS).

Review suggestions

Review suggestions for the profile. To see suggestions for the profile, select Suggestions under the Name=#### menu. Follow the directions provided for individual suggestions to clean the profile. Some suggestions that might be found on GEDCOM imported profiles include

131 No Dates - No Dates on relatives - Open - Unknown Status
132 No Dates - No Dates on relatives - Open - Status Died
133 No Dates - Dates on relatives - Open - Unknown Status
134 No Dates - Dates on relatives - Open - Status Died
616 Abbreviated Birth location Country not recommended
646 Abbreviated Death Location Country not recommended
676 Abbreviated Marriage Location Country not recommended
835 Local file reference
851 GEDCOM uncleaned Interpret date
852 GEDCOM uncleaned Parse Lastname
853 GEDCOM Junk
867 Too many Inline citations
467 Profile completeness - Short Biography (<500)

Add/remove maintenance categories

Once you have cleaned up the GEDCOM created profile, it is likely that there is more work that can be done. If you used the WikiTree Automatic GEDCOM Cleanup (AGC) Extension, make sure that you have reviewed the "Issues to be checked" section, and removed it. The maintenance categories are a way of designating the profile so that it will be found if further work is needed. Remove existing maintenance categories for items that have been addressed. Maintenance categories that might be appropriate to add include:

{{Unsourced}} to bring the profile to attention for Weekly and Monthly Sourcers Challenges as well as for Source-A-Thon
[[Category: Needs_Profiles_Created]] for a profile that identifies nuclear family and their sources to bring the profile to attention for Connect-A-Thon
[[Category: Needs_Biography]] for a profile that has either no biography or a minimal biography to bring the profile to attention for Bio Builders

Preferably, you will have added sources and developed a biography, as applicable. The WikiTree BEE browser extension can be used to automatically generate a biography. WikiTree Sourcer (WTS) can be used to generate the narrative for a source, filling out a biography complete with source citations.

Describe your changes and save the profile

Provide a comment that describes the changes you made to the profile, and save the profile. The comment should be descriptive, but not too lengthy; think of what you would like to see for the history if you come across this profile. Perhaps "GEDCOM Cleanup; added Headings; added Unsourced"? It really depends on what you have done.

Update Suggestions Status

Ensure that you update the status to update any Suggestions that you may have cleared for the profile.

Update marriage dates and locations

After you have cleaned up and saved the GEDCOM imported profiles for both spouses, examine the profiles to see if there is information about the date and location of a marriage. If so, edit the marriage to add missing dates or locations. Expand existing locations that are abbreviated or do not include the country. Correct misspellings, separators or wrong words in the locations. After saving these changes, be sure to update the status for any suggestions.

Check for category errors

View the profile (in public view), and follow the link to Categories. If any category appears in red, there is a typo or some other problem in the category. Correct this, save the profile, and test again.

Check for other profile issues

From the profile, Copy ID. Start Bio Check and set How to Find Profiles to Check Profile. Set Ancestor generations 0. Set Descendant Generations 0. Click Check Profile. The profile should be either Sourced or Marked, and should have no style issues. If there are style issues, see the Bio Check Help for information on how to correct style issues.

Check for duplicate profiles

Search for matches for the profile, either from the Name-### menu item Search for Matches or at the bottom of the profile find matches for name. Review the candidates and propose a merge if you are certain it is a duplicate profile. There are very likely to be matches if you have added dates, or if this was an early profile from an early GEDCOM import.

Update profile review status

Return to the GEDI spreadsheet for the profile. Update the Review Status. Add a Review Comment as applicable, or if you have not improved the profile and have set the Review Status to Comment. This might happen, for example, if you started by coordinating with an active Profile Manager, and they have plans to update the profile. If you were working with others in the community on the profile, let them know that you have finished.

Congratulations! Return to select another profile. Is the GEDCOM completed? If so, that's great! It should be checked Check the GEDCOM to ensure that all profiles have been improved.


Tips and Tricks

Browser Auto Text Expander

There are extensions for both Chrome and Firefox that provide an auto text expander. This can be very useful when cleaning up profiles, since you can create a shortcut for items such as == Biography ==, == Sources == and <references /> when you find profiles missing these items.

Keyboard Tricks and Shortcuts

In addition to the auto text expander, several G2G threads discuss various shortcuts:

Using the Automatic GEDCOM Cleanup (AGC) Extension

Depending on the extent of changes to be made to the profile, it may be advantageous to use the the WikiTree AGC (Automatic GEDCOM Cleanup) extension. Since AGC works best if the profile has not been edited to much, it is best to use this early in the steps. AGC will add required headings, let you retain or remove information about the GEDCOM, capture external family free Information, and will cleanup sources using span tags. Using AGC to clean up span tags can be a huge time saver. See the information how to set options on the AGC page. After using AGC, be sure to review the "Issues to be checked" section and remove it when done.

Can you find the external tree?

A profile may reference an external tree in several different forms. This information should be kept on the profile, as these trees may provide clues that lead to possible sources and family relationships. Add the references under See Also: under Sources for any of the following trees that you might see:

  • Family Search Family Tree (FSFTID)
  • Ancestry Family Tree
  • Ancestral File Number (AFN)
  • GENI Tree (GENI focus_id=xxx)

Can you find the external Ancestry tree?

A profile may reference an Ancestry tree in the form To check this tree, add the Ancestry template in the form {{Ancestry Tree|15949597|561129664}}. Then follow the Ancestry Profile link. Even if the tree is not found or is private, still save this by moving it to See Also: under Sources because it may still lead to clues. In any case, adding the template is good practice. There may be issues with very small person Id (the second number). If the link does not work, try just using the tree id (i.e., delete the pipe and the second number) to see if you can reach the tree using the form {{Ancestry Tree|15949597}}

Is this Sourced ?

Use the guidance in the Sources FAQ to determine if a profile is sourced. Look at each possible source, and if none of those sources provide a clear identification of where the information on the profile came from then the profile is not sourced. For example, a profile that has just "Internet files" or "1880, 1900 census" with no additional information is not sourced. If, however, the census provides details about the location, there is likely sufficient information to find that source.

One item that you might see is a generic reference to Ancestry Family Trees, such as:

Title: Ancestry Family Trees
Publication: Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Original data: Family Tree files submitted by Ancestry members.
Note: This information comes from 1 or more individual Ancestry Family Tree files. This source citation points you to a current version of those files. Note: The owners of these tree files may have removed or changed information since this source citation was created.

In this case, there is no tree identified, therefore this is not a source. Note however, that a citation (either via <ref> or <span>) may include a tree id.

Similarly, any family tree on any site does not qualify as sufficient information for a Pre-1700 profile. These should be moved to the Research Notes section, since they might provide clues or lead to sources.

Check a GEDCOM

To check the profiles for a GEDCOM, start Bio Check and set How to Find Profiles to WikiTree+ search results. Set the Search text on WikiTree+ to gedfile=nameOfGedcom.ged. Use the name that appears for the GEDCOM on the spreadsheet Overview tab. Set Max search profiles, Max to check, and Max profiles to report greater than the number of profiles in the GEDCOM but not more than 5000 or 6000 at the most. Uncheck Check Open Profiles only. Set Profiles to Report to Profiles for Review.

If you are running this check for a GEDCOM that appears completed, there should be no style issues found. There should also not be any maybe (?) sourced. There may be Unsourced profiles if any are marked as unsourced.


There were several very large GEDCOM imports, including some that are actually the results of different profile managers importing a GEDCOM with the same name. These GEDCOM need special care to identify just a subset of the profiles to review. Those from multiple profile managers need care to collaborate with any active Profile Managers. Examples of large GEDCOM include:

124-DeCoursey.ged (35805)
dyermaeettaaug2010.ged (10867)
JDS_09_17_10.ged (12082)
Pioneer_Stock.GED (27874)
WikiTree.ged (12975).

Examples of large GEDCOM from multiple imports and where PM coordination may be needed include:

export-BloodTree.ged (33440)
export-Forest.ged (22287)
FAMILY.GED (28202)

What if I see a GEDCOM that is not on the list?

As you work on WikiTree you often see profiles that say they were imported via GEDCOM blah de blah.ged. As you look at profile suggestions, you will often encounter GEDCOM imported profiles. In addition to the GEDCOM specific suggestions (851-853) you may find profiles with abbreviated locations (616, 646, 676), with local file references (835), too many inline citations (867), and no dates (131-134).

Note the name of the GEDCOM that you see in the profile, and the profile ID. Contact the GEDI team via Discord or on the monthly G2G post. The GEDCOM may already be on list somewhere, or may be a candidate to add to the list. Thanks!


Until someone goes in and cleans up this profile here is an example of a Pre-1700 profile that does not include any reliable sources. (The profile was found using BioCheck for WikiTree+ search text b1680 orphan.) Here's another and one with lots of Ancestry trees, maybe some have source records.

On the other hand this profile does not specifically cite a census but does describe the census with date and place:

Date: 1900
Place: Peaine Township, Beaver Island, Charlevoix Co., Michigan

It does not therefore qualify as unsourced. A quick search also reveals that the mysterious referenced "Descendants of Unknown Boyle" is a published work. So this also means that the profile does not qualify as unsourced, although the citation could be improved.


How are we doing?

How did we do this month? There were about 625 profiles improved, with about 460 of those from the GEDI challenge.

Total Profiles is the total number of profiles for the GEDCOM considered for GEDI, and Profiles to Improve is the number of those profiles that likely need improving. Overall Profiles Improved counts all the changes for the GEDCOM, and GEDI Profiles Improved counts those profiles improved as part of GEDI.

Date Total
Profiles to
May 2021 40 5 42,361 30,216 66 66
June 2021 37 5 46,361 35,752 2,352 1,194
July 2021 35 3 45,497 32,736 552 435
August 2021 33 3 47,213 34,038 500 268
September 2021 33 0 51,198 35,727 870 596
October 2021 35 6 52,419 36,768 3,842 3,024
November 2021 34 1 54,544 39,721 954 867
December 2021 34 1 54,634 39,824 625 461
January 2022 35 0 58,332 42,248 586 470
February 2022 40 6 58,886 42,231 313 507
March 2022 35 2 58,735 42,142 881 572
April 2022 33 1 58,393 41, 849 502 427
May 2022 33 0 62,290 46,128 1,074 1,108
June 2022 35 2 62,290 46,128 931 782
July 2022 33 0 61,480 45,597 391 752
August 2022 31 0 57,618 43,034 1,106 646
Total Improvements 35 15,545 12,175

Comments: 1

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Kay, you should suggest the use of Wikitree BEE for an autobio after cleanup. Super easy, and a vast improvement over blank space.
posted by Jonathan Crawford