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Status Indicator Icons

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: [unknown] [unknown]
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This page is a place to expand upon and provide additional background for the discussion that was started by JN Murphy in his "Proposal: Confidence Icons in the Relationship Finder" G2G post.

Relevant Guides and Help Pages

🥝 = applies to both relationship and to other fields' status indicators.
🍍 = only applies to relationship status indicators.
🍊 = other relevant help pages.
🧁 = page does not exist

Current Situation

WikiTree does not have a consistent display of Relationship Status Indicators:

    • DNA Confirmed : An icon ( DNA-confirmed.gif.pagespeed.ce.Y_bOfuUA8R.gif ) is displayed in several contexts.
    • Uncertain : Text in Tree-View is highlighted. Compact Trees have uncertain parents highlighted.
    • Confident : Text in Tree-View; no appearance elsewhere.
    • Non-Biological : Text in Tree-View; suppressed elsewhere.

The text display of relationship status indicators is often bulky and crowds the text of Relationship Finder pages, such that it is difficult to quickly identify specific statuses, especially "unknown" versus "confident".

The current situation with regard to visual representation presents problems because of the lack of uniformity. This violates user expectations.

The lack of information display also prevents users from realizing the meaning and value of setting these data quality indicators. If the visualizations of these data quality indicators were displayed in all instances, rather than just when DNA Confirmation has been asserted, it would assist to motivate action. WikiTree has recently benefited from a small-scale test of this kind of visual display of data indicators for the Connectors Project and the implementation of an anthropic puzzle-piece icon, visible to project members, to highlight those profiles not yet connected. (See: G2G Post.) The display of this icon has resulted in users specifically engaging to "connect"


Because the relationships statuses represent a set, which therefore would need to be largely uniform in order to be uniformly placed and depicted, a custom icon set is required. Such a set would need to meet several requirements, listed in "What Makes a Good Icon Set" below. That uniformity would play into a basic user expectation that buttons or icons of similar design (shape, size, colour, etc...) function in similar ways or represent similar things.

What Makes a Good Icon Set

No icon is going to be perfect and please everyone, but the site desperately needs to cut down on text and motivate users to . I'm mostly trying to lay out a set of principles for what general features or properties such icons would need to have. To reprise those properties:

  • Simple : This is meant to be like a data-point in a larger visualization, not a visualization in itself.
  • Compact : This is to replace lengthy descriptor snippets.
  • Monochromatic : Avoids regional bias in colour-symbolism and prevents value judgments; allows flexibility in adapting the design.
  • High-contrast : Not yellow-on-white or similarly challenging colour pairs.
  • Easy to read : Features are clear at 12 to 16 px height.
  • International : Avoids symbols which do not translate.
  • Text-free : Acronyms rarely translate.
  • Recognizable : Identifiable via a legend, thereafter by recognition.
  • Attractive : Everyone wants WT to look more appealing.
  • Uniform : Consistent size and shape helps users to instantly recognize that it's an icon about the same type of information.
  • Distinguishable : Each status has its own icon, quickly distinguishable from others at a glance. (Useful in scanning a
  • Non-judgmental : WT should minimize risk of alienation, especially for adoptive families.


According to Peter Morville, for a website to present a "meaningful and valuable user experience", information needs to be Useful, Usable, Desirable, Findable, Accessible, and Credible. (Source: Usability.gof)

  • Useful: Icons allow for a quick evaluation of Information
  • Usable: Displaying all of the relationship status indicators (with exception of where privacy restricted) makes the site more consistent to interact with.
  • Desirable: A good set of icons can complement the site, which probably requires a make-over.
  • Findable: Icons help users to quickly determine the RSI.
  • Accessible: A more uniform design (all images with appropriate alt text) is likely more accessible.
  • Credible: Clearly displaying RSIs, including unknown and uncertain ones, will help users to trust WikiTree more because it demonstrates an openness to questions of the reliability of relationship connections that are displayed..


Evolution of Relationship Status Options

To give some context on the development of the relationship status indicators and their usage, history of posts discussing the usage and application of relationship status indicators

The list is sorted by date in numerical YYYY-MM-DD format. Posts which are primarily an offshoot application of the relationship status indicators are marked with brackets, e.g. (2015-11-10).

  • 2013-05-24 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • Policy: "Adopted and Illegitimate Children"
    • Whitten: "I think it needs to be a genetic tree."
    • cf: 2016-02-02 Chase Ashley G2G Post.
  • 2014-07-16 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • Adding certainty status
  • 2015-02-27 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
  • 2015-3-10 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • "#1. We'll be able to illustrate on trees when a connection is questionable. This will give you a middle ground between saying a person is or is not the parent. Currently, you can explain the uncertainty in the text of profiles (and you should) but on the tree views it's black and white. Now we'll be able to show a shade of grey on trees. " (emphasis added)
    • "By the way, use of the middle option, "Confident," will probably end up being the source of a lot of debate. If so we'll have to find a way to avoid this. The middle option just means it isn't either of the other two. The other two are what will be used for new features. The middle one is what all relationships are assumed to be currently." (emphasis added)
  • 2015-03-26 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • Announced: "Uncertain" and "Confirmed with DNA" status indicators
  • 2015-03-26 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • Query: recommending DNA Confirmed templates
  • 2015-04-10 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • enhancements to descendant pages
    • Uncertain father or mother indicators where appropriate.
    • Confirmed with DNA indicators where appropriate.
  • 2015-04-15 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • "If reasonable genealogists disagree on circumstantial evidence, do you disconnect the parents or mark them as Uncertain?"
  • 2015-05-05 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
  • (2015-05-29) : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • "who on WikiTree has the most DNA-confirmed connections in their tree. Whose family tree page has the most of those orange DNA checkmarks? How many does yours have?"
  • (2015-09-18) : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • Query: "autosomal connections on the DNA Confirmation Aid?"
  • 2015-10-09 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • Query on Non-Biological
  • 2015-10-28 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • Non-Biological is Live
  • (2015-11-10) : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • Query: "autosomal connections on the DNA Confirmation Aid?"
  • 2015-12-30 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • "Did you notice the improvements to the DNA Ancestors and DNA Descendants pages?"
    • "the DNA Ancestors and DNA Descendants pages respect the Non-Biological Relationship Status indicators."
  • 2016-03-12 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • Announcement: "Compact Family Trees now include DNA-confirmed indicators?"
    • Compact Family Trees now include "Confirmed with DNA" indicators.
    • e.g. https://www.wikitree.com/treewidget/Roberts-7085/5
    • "Compact Trees also now include Relationship Status indicators for "Uncertain." Uncertain mothers and fathers are now highlighted. It does not currently include "Non-Biological" Relationship Status indicators. We've been reticent about adding this indicator on various tree views because some people may not want to see it highlighted. And, presumably, not having it wouldn't affect many serious genetic genealogists because they'd be less likely to keep non-biological ancestors connected, and they should never be connected deep in a tree." (note: non-uniform display of information)
  • (2016-03-17) : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • "What message do you send to your DNA matches? New template."
  • (2016-03-23) : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • Instructions / Clarification: "One-to-one autosomal DNA confirmation for third cousins back to shared ancestral couple?"
  • (2016-03-30) : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • Announcement: "Simplified DNA confirmation"
  • (2016-04-28) : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • Announcement: "significant improvements to our DNA Descendants pages"
  • (2016-11-10) : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • Family Group Sheets include DNA-confirmed
  • 2017-09-06 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • "Did you see that over three million WikiTree profiles have DNA test connections?!"
    • "We are now calculating and displaying a new statistic on the home page: The number of profiles on WikiTree with DNA test connections."
  • 2019-03-16 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • "What do you think of our DNA confirmation instructions and possible automation?"
    • First, the use of the word "confirmed." Like any word, its meaning can be debated. Its meaning on WikiTree is explained on the Confirmed with DNA page that's linked from the icon.
  • 2019-05-24 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • If you're a member of the Connectors Project, you will now see an icon next to a person's name at the top of their profile if they are unconnected. So, if a person is not connected to our global tree, you will see that right away, without having to scroll to the bottom of their profile.
  • 2018-04-27 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • "Significant privacy-related changes to WikiTree for GDPR"
    • You will no longer be able to enter information about tests for other living people, e.g. when you manage the test kit for a family member who is not a genealogist.
    • We may also need to prohibit mentioning someone else's DNA test in a source citation.
    • You will no longer be able to enter information about tests for other living people, e.g. when you manage the test kit for a family member who is not a genealogist.
    • We may also need to prohibit mentioning someone else's DNA test in a source citation.
  • 2018-05-08 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • GDPR and profiles of children.
  • 2018-05-25 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • GDPR & new privacy policy
  • 2019-09-26 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • Change to "Collaboration" section of profiles for non-members
    • Message to invite collaboration: "Is Mary your ancestor? Please don't go away! Login to collaborate, contact the profile manager or ask our community of genealogists a question."
  • 2019-11-13 : Whitten-1 G2G Post
    • Should non-wiki genealogists be WikiTree members?
    • Expanding the membership of WikiTree to include more people

  • 2019-- : [ Whitten-1 G2G Post]

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