Discussion:
Wikitree, etc, You can’t fix stupid or lazy.
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KLBWagner
2018-04-17 10:47:15 UTC
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What some of the group members want is an always correctly connected, completeley honest and unemotional, properly sourced, universally accepted online family tree. It ain’t gonna happen, because you can’t fix stupid or lazy.
I was checking online trees for clues to an uncommon surname. I found a distant cousin’s tree and realized that she had skipped a generation. She had a 67 year old woman giving birth AND the woman had died at the age of 65. I emailed her to let her know I would gladly share copies of the source documents I had for the missing generation. She replied that she had wondered about that woman and her child and had asked the <family historian> about them and he had told her it was correct. I asked if she would like the documents and she said she would leave her tree like it was. She was relying on an “authority” instead of thinking for herself.
When I search online trees I’m looking for clues, not an answer. If there are no sources, I move on. If there are sources listed, I check the sources myself. Do I agree with the conclusions of the authority? Does the source include all the information listed on the person’s profile? And several other questions are addressed.
You want a <family historian> or several to do the work for you, to put together a universal tree you can just copy. Otherwise, what’s the point?
When I have a question about medieval genealogy I come to the newsgroup and the archives. The posters provide links to primary or secondary sources, questionable dating is discussed, how have surnames developed and changed, what source names a father as Richard while another may say William, which calendar was used when. These and many others are all things I can check and decide for myself if I want to add information to my database.
The best possiblity for a universal tree would be the information right here on the newsgroup. But would everyone agree on the spelling of names, how dates are recorded, place names from the time of the event or now, was Richard or William the father, etc?

Kathleen Wagner
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-17 12:25:37 UTC
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On Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 12:47:17 PM UTC+2, KLBWagner wrote:

I don't really think the example is that relevant because on any online collaboration which forces all people to make one family tree your distant relative should not have been able to stop you fixing an error. The problem you mention is more typical in family trees by one person or a small group. This is why geni and ancestry and similar are both popular with such genealogists, and not loved by people such as the ones on this forum.

But taking your other comments, I think it is interesting to think it through. Let's say we see this forum as a kind of online family tree research group, who are gathering information. Indeed let's ignore that it is not using wiki software, or something like that. We have seen over the years that as a community we can use different online platforms and software, so we are not simple a "google group" or a "rootsweb group". (Indeed, our aim of trying to keep together updates is under a bit of threat with the archives problem rootsweb has given us.)

If we actually had to write out conclusions to each of our little discussions would be tend to have conclusions or would we for example of lots of cases where people can not even agree on how to spell a name? My experience tells me that in practice the name spelling is something people will never all agree on, but also most people also realize that this is not the most important thing in the world and there is generally a sort of consensus possible, even if it is not always 100%.

In some ways I see the Keats-Rohan corrections webpage, the CP corrections webpage, and the Henry project, as examples which already exist of work of an output of members of this community which effectively has been reviewed and given a stamp of approval of this little community? (Because we would be complaining otherwise.) ...and if you typed that all over into another particular type of webspace, whether it use wiki software, or just a bigger Henry project server with more pages, it would still match that description.

Crazy way of looking at it?
Kelsey Jackson Williams
2018-04-18 14:21:50 UTC
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Not crazy at all, Andrew. What I've been thinking the whole time I've been reading the sprawling Wikitree debate (and its various predecessors) is that surely s.g.m itself is the resource which people keep wishing for. Indeed, it's considerably better. As has been pointed out repeatedly, the formulaic structure of any genealogical programme - GEDCOM-based or whatever - encourages blank-filling and a very blinkered mindset. Here, however, we have a record of free-text discussion and debate. Personally, I'd rather read a discussion thread weighing up different potential interpretations than see a massaged, tidied "final" version, however well documented.

Though I suppose this also gets at the root of the larger "two visions" of genealogy: are people in the field because they enjoy research and the critical evaluation of primary evidence or do they enjoy the "collecting" aspect (a la Wikitree's 1,000+ badges)? If the latter, then s.g.m. is clearly not for them, but, if the former, why would anyone want such a totalising database in the first place? You might as well say you're going to write the definitive history of X, permanently superseding all others . . . .

All the best,
Kelsey
Post by Andrew Lancaster
I don't really think the example is that relevant because on any online collaboration which forces all people to make one family tree your distant relative should not have been able to stop you fixing an error. The problem you mention is more typical in family trees by one person or a small group. This is why geni and ancestry and similar are both popular with such genealogists, and not loved by people such as the ones on this forum.
But taking your other comments, I think it is interesting to think it through. Let's say we see this forum as a kind of online family tree research group, who are gathering information. Indeed let's ignore that it is not using wiki software, or something like that. We have seen over the years that as a community we can use different online platforms and software, so we are not simple a "google group" or a "rootsweb group". (Indeed, our aim of trying to keep together updates is under a bit of threat with the archives problem rootsweb has given us.)
If we actually had to write out conclusions to each of our little discussions would be tend to have conclusions or would we for example of lots of cases where people can not even agree on how to spell a name? My experience tells me that in practice the name spelling is something people will never all agree on, but also most people also realize that this is not the most important thing in the world and there is generally a sort of consensus possible, even if it is not always 100%.
In some ways I see the Keats-Rohan corrections webpage, the CP corrections webpage, and the Henry project, as examples which already exist of work of an output of members of this community which effectively has been reviewed and given a stamp of approval of this little community? (Because we would be complaining otherwise.) ...and if you typed that all over into another particular type of webspace, whether it use wiki software, or just a bigger Henry project server with more pages, it would still match that description.
Crazy way of looking at it?
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-18 21:19:29 UTC
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Post by Kelsey Jackson Williams
Not crazy at all, Andrew. What I've been thinking the whole time I've been reading the sprawling Wikitree debate (and its various predecessors) is that surely s.g.m itself is the resource which people keep wishing for. Indeed, it's considerably better. As has been pointed out repeatedly, the formulaic structure of any genealogical programme - GEDCOM-based or whatever - encourages blank-filling and a very blinkered mindset. Here, however, we have a record of free-text discussion and debate. Personally, I'd rather read a discussion thread weighing up different potential interpretations than see a massaged, tidied "final" version, however well documented.
Though I suppose this also gets at the root of the larger "two visions" of genealogy: are people in the field because they enjoy research and the critical evaluation of primary evidence or do they enjoy the "collecting" aspect (a la Wikitree's 1,000+ badges)? If the latter, then s.g.m. is clearly not for them, but, if the former, why would anyone want such a totalising database in the first place? You might as well say you're going to write the definitive history of X, permanently superseding all others . .
Well then this implies that if someone can find more ways to simply register conclusions on this forum, that will be a small step forward. And if someone then uses that to improve any other project or publication that is even better.

By the way 1000 badges are not that difficult for any serious genealogist who gives wikitree a go. Do not get too to worried about them. I've had several just from spending some time on a single family during a month, because every edit counts. Medieval genealogists and serious genealogists in general will easily get lots of badges if they use wikitree, so those should be seen as encouraging less serious genealogists to do such things as fill in their 19th century trees.
Nathan Murphy
2018-04-18 03:59:59 UTC
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Post by KLBWagner
What some of the group members want is an always correctly connected, completeley honest and unemotional, properly sourced, universally accepted online family tree. It ain’t gonna happen, because you can’t fix stupid or lazy.
Kathleen Wagner
Kathleen, would you mind if I start quoting your first paragraph? With proper attribution of course.

Nathan
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