Discussion:
WikiTree
(too old to reply)
r***@gmail.com
2018-04-10 17:13:17 UTC
Permalink
Mea culpa, I had briefly thought that WikiTree might be a step forward in genealogy, as it allegedly required proper sources. And then I found my great-grandmother's page, done by someone who is not a member of our family (and I know or know of all her descendants), and full of gibberish and nonsense. Will there EVER be a serious effort (aside from the Henry Project) to put documented genealogies on the web.
Paulo Canedo
2018-04-10 18:20:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by r***@gmail.com
Mea culpa, I had briefly thought that WikiTree might be a step forward in genealogy, as it allegedly required proper sources. And then I found my great-grandmother's page, done by someone who is not a member of our family (and I know or know of all her descendants), and full of gibberish and nonsense. Will there EVER be a serious effort (aside from the Henry Project) to put documented genealogies on the web.
What you reported is strange. Usually, genealogical data on recent people is reliable.
wjhonson
2018-04-10 18:38:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by r***@gmail.com
Mea culpa, I had briefly thought that WikiTree might be a step forward in genealogy, as it allegedly required proper sources. And then I found my great-grandmother's page, done by someone who is not a member of our family (and I know or know of all her descendants), and full of gibberish and nonsense. Will there EVER be a serious effort (aside from the Henry Project) to put documented genealogies on the web.
WikiTree has made the *vast* mistake of allowing anyone to *claim* a page and then be the creator, arbitor and judge of everything on that page.

I expect most page-owners, would gladly accept and update corrections, that's not the issue.

The issue I have is with those page-owners who will not.
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-11 16:19:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by wjhonson
Post by r***@gmail.com
Mea culpa, I had briefly thought that WikiTree might be a step forward in genealogy, as it allegedly required proper sources. And then I found my great-grandmother's page, done by someone who is not a member of our family (and I know or know of all her descendants), and full of gibberish and nonsense. Will there EVER be a serious effort (aside from the Henry Project) to put documented genealogies on the web.
WikiTree has made the *vast* mistake of allowing anyone to *claim* a page and then be the creator, arbitor and judge of everything on that page.
I expect most page-owners, would gladly accept and update corrections, that's not the issue.
The issue I have is with those page-owners who will not.
I think the page owning idea developed from their idea about how to handle recent generations, including living people, who can be made invisible to outsiders. The further back you go, the more problems it gives, but that is why the trend towards time categories with different rules is important.

I do not remember the exact rule but profile managers should not have profiles closed to other editors for anyone who is not very recent. If someone is doing this it should be possible to get that over-rided.

I have to say as a Wikipedia and Wikitree editor I've had very few real disagreements on Wikitree. Less than 5?
Joe
2018-04-10 22:09:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by r***@gmail.com
Mea culpa, I had briefly thought that WikiTree might be a step forward in genealogy, as it allegedly required proper sources. And then I found my great-grandmother's page, done by someone who is not a member of our family (and I know or know of all her descendants), and full of gibberish and nonsense. Will there EVER be a serious effort (aside from the Henry Project) to put documented genealogies on the web.
So... fix it. It's not hard. Give me the page, the correct information with sources, and I will fix it.

The Henry Project is a tremendous personal effort by a very small number of people on a relatively small number of defined individuals; it is not fair to expect the same level of detailed analysis and accuracy on all 17 million wikitree profiles. Wikitree improves daily with a very active error correction community. Yes, many thousands of errors were introduced to wikitree by the upload of personal gedcoms, hundreds of thousands remain unsourced or poorly sourced. But the advantage of wikitree is these errors can be eventually fixed, and the profiles improved. If you want your great-grandmother's ancestry to be as well documented as the Henry Project, then it is frankly on you to become a wikitree volunteer and add it. What is not helpful is to come to another website and whine about it.

Will, there are no page owners on wikitree. There are Profile Managers, but they do not necessarily have any more rights to the profile than you do. Profiles of individuals born before 1868 are required to be open for editing by anyone. You are expected to collaborate with others including the profile managers, but this is very rarely a problem, especially when you provide sources for your changes or additions.
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-11 16:44:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Joe
Post by r***@gmail.com
Mea culpa, I had briefly thought that WikiTree might be a step forward in genealogy, as it allegedly required proper sources. And then I found my great-grandmother's page, done by someone who is not a member of our family (and I know or know of all her descendants), and full of gibberish and nonsense. Will there EVER be a serious effort (aside from the Henry Project) to put documented genealogies on the web.
So... fix it. It's not hard. Give me the page, the correct information with sources, and I will fix it.
The Henry Project is a tremendous personal effort by a very small number of people on a relatively small number of defined individuals; it is not fair to expect the same level of detailed analysis and accuracy on all 17 million wikitree profiles. Wikitree improves daily with a very active error correction community. Yes, many thousands of errors were introduced to wikitree by the upload of personal gedcoms, hundreds of thousands remain unsourced or poorly sourced. But the advantage of wikitree is these errors can be eventually fixed, and the profiles improved. If you want your great-grandmother's ancestry to be as well documented as the Henry Project, then it is frankly on you to become a wikitree volunteer and add it. What is not helpful is to come to another website and whine about it.
Will, there are no page owners on wikitree. There are Profile Managers, but they do not necessarily have any more rights to the profile than you do. Profiles of individuals born before 1868 are required to be open for editing by anyone. You are expected to collaborate with others including the profile managers, but this is very rarely a problem, especially when you provide sources for your changes or additions.
I reckon that there should be a pre-1200 category on Wikitree, and I think the Henry project format with the various heading like not only children, but possible children, proposed children, falsely attributed children, etc is excellent. Pre 1200 genealogy is tricky but similar types of situation do in fact come up, as the Henry project has demonstrated.

When it comes down to it, I'd think it a great idea to over-write every article that covers a Henry II ancestor with the Henry project material, properly cited of course. Of course in practice it needs to be worked on step by step because doing this means deleting and de-linking and indeed splitting of articles (in this period one of the questions is often "how many Arnulfs were there"), and doing a lot of these at once gets people justifiably worried.

One problem which wikitree shares with much of the internet is how to delete something. The internet ethos is "create" and so profiles for mythical characters tend to be left in existence with warnings etc on them, sometimes even linked to a real family. But for now I keep happy by just de-linking them into a vacuum (where appropriate).
j***@gmail.com
2018-04-11 19:28:12 UTC
Permalink
"WikiTree has made the *vast* mistake of allowing anyone to *claim* a page and then be the creator, arbitor and judge of everything on that page."

If I understand correctly, that's the way geni does things, so people might assume it's the same for WikiTree. WikiTree actually has two different levels. Before 1868 (150 years ago), all of the profiles have to be open for anybody to edit, similar to wikipedia, although the profile managers generally get some deference -- you should communicate first before making changes on a profile that somebody has put a lot of work into. If there are disagreements on what to put onto a page (like, for example the contentious page of Philippa (Bonville) Grenville), then "proper procedure" is to start a discussion thread seeking consensus (not unlike the talk page of a wikipedia article), and a balky profile manager can be overridden (or even replaced in extreme cases).

The booger in the system is with profiles of people who were born less than 150 years ago. In that case, a profile manager can (and usually does) select one of the privacy levels. This means that others can't edit that profile without getting onto the "trusted list" -- and the profile manager(s) can decide whether or not to accept requests to be on the trusted list. I've never had a problem with a second cousin arguing about what to put on the profile of a common ancestor, but I'm sure that type of situation comes up occasionally. And some people are just not well suited for WikiTree's need to collaborate -- genealogy can be quite a solitary pastime. Basic social skills are a prerequisite for getting along at WikiTree.
--

"But where WikiTree errs is that it does not appear to have a way to source individual facts."

Maybe it's better to say that WikiTree allows people to write a summary and give a source or a list of sources at the end -- sort of like the way Douglas Richardson does his books.

But WikiTree does indeed allow (and encourage) the creation of individual footnotes, similar to wikipedia. One example is the profile of my ancestor Capt. Prince Tobey (1741-1810), with 22 separate footnotes, at https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Tobey-187

One recurring problem at WikiTree is that one's family tree tends to "grow" inappropriately. Somebody adds fantasy parent to a profile where I'm on the trusted list, and then I check the automatic report that shows recent changes to profiles where I'm either a manager or on the trusted list, and I notice that an addition has been made, and then I go check and deal with it. Part of WikiTree, at least post-1500 and especially post-1700, is the need to deal patiently with well-meaning klutzes who just want to help out and be involved. That's just the nature of the beast, but the medieval profiles finally (because of the requirement for special approval to edit pre-1500 profiles) have a consistent minimum of competence.
s***@mindspring.com
2018-04-10 22:59:39 UTC
Permalink
Can the Wikitree enthusiasts point to any examples of pages which have attained the degree of quality that they are aiming for? I have yet to see a Wikitree page which I would rate any better than "marginally acceptable" (and very few even that "good"). The vast majority that I have seen are abysmal. Today, I went through some 1500's-1600's pages relevant to some of my published research. Some of them which clearly depended ultimately on my research (perhaps from a copy of a copy of ...) showed no knowledge of their sources. Some which cited my work cited it specifically for "facts" in direct contradiction from what I stated in my publications. One citing one of my TAG articles, which proved the parentage of an individual, cited my article as proof of the baptism, then gave a different parentage than the one proven by the same baptism (and old error of the type "well, the surname in this visitation is right, and the chronology doesn't look completely impossible, so let's attach him here").

I also checked a few pages for early medieval individuals that I have researched in detail. The news was just as bad there. The page for Brian Bóruma was awful, as were the pages for other early Irish individuals that I examined. Wikitree's apparent policy of requiring fake surnames to be given to everyone who did not have a surname certainly shows its ugly head on these pages. If you go to the page of Gorm the Old (which is bad enough), you can follow it to the page of his father, whose name was apparently <begin quote> King Harde Knud Hardeknute (Canute) "Canute, Knut" Danmark of Sjaella formerly Sigurdsson aka Sigurdsson <end quote>, born in "814" [with no indication of uncertainty for a date which has been fabricated out of nowhere, and is at least a half a century too early (and probably more) to be believable], supposedly in "Hord, Jutland, Denmark, Netherlands" [did Denmark get annexed at some time that I didn't hear about?]. Even if none of them had a clue that the place of birth of this individual (whose "uncertain existence" is actually acknowledged further down the page) would not be recorded (as is true for the vast majority of early medieval individuals given alleged places of birth on Wikitree pages), you would think (or at least hope) that with seven "profile managers" at least one of them realized how stupid all of this looked.

While I was working on the present rant, I decided to look up what they had on Cerdic, legendary ancestor of the West Saxon kings. As it turns out, Cerdic's great grandfather "Gewis Saxony" a son of "Wig Freawineasson" who was apparently a son of "Nfn Frewineasson" ("Nfn" is apparently "No first name"), whose immediate ancestors also bore the "surname" Freawineasson. It is pretty sad when they couldn't even copy Cerdic's fake ancestors from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle without producing completely laughable results.

Stewart Baldwin
j***@gmail.com
2018-04-11 00:10:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by s***@mindspring.com
Can the Wikitree enthusiasts point to any examples of pages which have attained the degree of quality that they are aiming for?
Um, you could try Ohio pioneer John Carpenter (1737-1806) at https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Carpenter-4118
Most wikitree profiles are never going to get to that level, of course, but it shows what can be done using a WikiTree profile as a form of art.

And one of my favorites is the "semi-legendary" Paganus Pridias (Prideaux), b. c. 1040 in Cornwall: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Pridias-4

Here's a truly collaborative effort involving several people (I played a minor role): George Allen (1580-1648) of Sandwich, Plymouth Colony, at https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Allen-958

Here's a "good enough" profile, heiress Ann Scalers (c. 1450-1493): https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Scalers-1

And in the "can of worms" department, here's Philippa (Bonville) Grenville (b. c. 1415): https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Bonville-4

Here's a profile based on Ronny Bodine's research, Richard Champernoun (1344-1419): https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Champernoun-18
taf
2018-04-11 00:58:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by j***@gmail.com
Here's a profile based on Ronny Bodine's research, Richard Champernoun (1344-1419): https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Champernoun-18
At the risk of sounding peevish, it is based on Ronnie Bodine's _posts_, which arose out of an email exchange in which I shared with him a lot of my research. Whole big swaths of his series of posts just restated the material I had sent him.

Looking at this page, I see what appears to be a made up marriage date, and it is missing the important details available in the VCH account of the family, not yet published in 1999.

taf
j***@gmail.com
2018-04-11 03:23:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by taf
Whole big swaths of his series of posts just restated the material I had sent him.
Then I can share my appreciation now; those Champernoun files helped me learn about medieval genealogy. The Prideaux/Moyle branch of my family tree has five or six separate Champernoun connections, including Willington, who bore the old Champernoun arms.

I've always wanted to ask someone about this: "The coat of Monk, in the visitation of 1620, has 88 quarterings. Champernowne brought in Hamely, Talbot, Valletort, and Cornwall." http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=50550

If I understand the marshalling correctly, Talbot would seem to be an heiress that Hameley married, and "Cornwall" is of course Richard the Earl, son of King John.
taf
2018-04-11 14:29:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by j***@gmail.com
I've always wanted to ask someone about this: "The coat of Monk, in the
visitation of 1620, has 88 quarterings. Champernowne brought in Hamely,
Talbot, Valletort, and Cornwall." http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=50550
If I understand the marshalling correctly, Talbot would seem to be an
heiress that Hameley married, and "Cornwall" is of course Richard the
Earl, son of King John.
Yes. I have not researched Hamley to know the nature of this claimed Talbot connection, but that would seem to be its route in getting to the Champernowns. Valletort is often wrongly interpreted as that of Joan de Valletort, mistress of Earl Richard, but is actually Valletort of Tawton, brought in by a subsequent marriage. And Cornwall is indeed representing the Earl (whether that connection is authentic or not - there have been some who have dismissed it, though Pole seemed to have evidence for it - is irrelevant, since all that matters is that the family believed it at the time when heraldry started to become more elaborate and genealogical)

taf
Joe
2018-04-11 00:29:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by s***@mindspring.com
Can the Wikitree enthusiasts point to any examples of pages which have attained the degree of quality that they are aiming for? I have yet to see a Wikitree page which I would rate any better than "marginally acceptable" (and very few even that "good"). The vast majority that I have seen are abysmal. Today, I went through some 1500's-1600's pages relevant to some of my published research. Some of them which clearly depended ultimately on my research (perhaps from a copy of a copy of ...) showed no knowledge of their sources. Some which cited my work cited it specifically for "facts" in direct contradiction from what I stated in my publications. One citing one of my TAG articles, which proved the parentage of an individual, cited my article as proof of the baptism, then gave a different parentage than the one proven by the same baptism (and old error of the type "well, the surname in this visitation is right, and the chronology doesn't look completely impossible, so let's attach him here").
I also checked a few pages for early medieval individuals that I have researched in detail. The news was just as bad there. The page for Brian Bóruma was awful, as were the pages for other early Irish individuals that I examined. Wikitree's apparent policy of requiring fake surnames to be given to everyone who did not have a surname certainly shows its ugly head on these pages. If you go to the page of Gorm the Old (which is bad enough), you can follow it to the page of his father, whose name was apparently <begin quote> King Harde Knud Hardeknute (Canute) "Canute, Knut" Danmark of Sjaella formerly Sigurdsson aka Sigurdsson <end quote>, born in "814" [with no indication of uncertainty for a date which has been fabricated out of nowhere, and is at least a half a century too early (and probably more) to be believable], supposedly in "Hord, Jutland, Denmark, Netherlands" [did Denmark get annexed at some time that I didn't hear about?]. Even if none of them had a clue that the place of birth of this individual (whose "uncertain existence" is actually acknowledged further down the page) would not be recorded (as is true for the vast majority of early medieval individuals given alleged places of birth on Wikitree pages), you would think (or at least hope) that with seven "profile managers" at least one of them realized how stupid all of this looked.
While I was working on the present rant, I decided to look up what they had on Cerdic, legendary ancestor of the West Saxon kings. As it turns out, Cerdic's great grandfather "Gewis Saxony" a son of "Wig Freawineasson" who was apparently a son of "Nfn Frewineasson" ("Nfn" is apparently "No first name"), whose immediate ancestors also bore the "surname" Freawineasson. It is pretty sad when they couldn't even copy Cerdic's fake ancestors from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle without producing completely laughable results.
Stewart Baldwin
Stewart, your interest and expertise are admittedly in an area of wikitree which is just awful. There are very few with the time and expertise to correct profiles from before the 13th century. If you tell me the TAG article you are referring to, I will see that it is corrected.


It is possible to make good profiles on wikitree.
https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/White-506
https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Freeman-1326
https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Casso-5
https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Winslow-515
https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Eaton-560
https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Baynton-46
s***@mindspring.com
2018-04-12 23:09:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Joe
Post by s***@mindspring.com
Can the Wikitree enthusiasts point to any examples of pages which have attained the degree of quality that they are aiming for? I have yet to see a Wikitree page which I would rate any better than "marginally acceptable" (and very few even that "good"). The vast majority that I have seen are abysmal. Today, I went through some 1500's-1600's pages relevant to some of my published research. Some of them which clearly depended ultimately on my research (perhaps from a copy of a copy of ...) showed no knowledge of their sources. Some which cited my work cited it specifically for "facts" in direct contradiction from what I stated in my publications. One citing one of my TAG articles, which proved the parentage of an individual, cited my article as proof of the baptism, then gave a different parentage than the one proven by the same baptism (and old error of the type "well, the surname in this visitation is right, and the chronology doesn't look completely impossible, so let's attach him here").
I also checked a few pages for early medieval individuals that I have researched in detail. The news was just as bad there. The page for Brian Bóruma was awful, as were the pages for other early Irish individuals that I examined. Wikitree's apparent policy of requiring fake surnames to be given to everyone who did not have a surname certainly shows its ugly head on these pages. If you go to the page of Gorm the Old (which is bad enough), you can follow it to the page of his father, whose name was apparently <begin quote> King Harde Knud Hardeknute (Canute) "Canute, Knut" Danmark of Sjaella formerly Sigurdsson aka Sigurdsson <end quote>, born in "814" [with no indication of uncertainty for a date which has been fabricated out of nowhere, and is at least a half a century too early (and probably more) to be believable], supposedly in "Hord, Jutland, Denmark, Netherlands" [did Denmark get annexed at some time that I didn't hear about?]. Even if none of them had a clue that the place of birth of this individual (whose "uncertain existence" is actually acknowledged further down the page) would not be recorded (as is true for the vast majority of early medieval individuals given alleged places of birth on Wikitree pages), you would think (or at least hope) that with seven "profile managers" at least one of them realized how stupid all of this looked.
While I was working on the present rant, I decided to look up what they had on Cerdic, legendary ancestor of the West Saxon kings. As it turns out, Cerdic's great grandfather "Gewis Saxony" a son of "Wig Freawineasson" who was apparently a son of "Nfn Frewineasson" ("Nfn" is apparently "No first name"), whose immediate ancestors also bore the "surname" Freawineasson. It is pretty sad when they couldn't even copy Cerdic's fake ancestors from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle without producing completely laughable results.
Stewart Baldwin
Stewart, your interest and expertise are admittedly in an area of wikitree which is just awful. There are very few with the time and expertise to correct profiles from before the 13th century. If you tell me the TAG article you are referring to, I will see that it is corrected.
You have pointed out some good profiles, but it still doesn't mean a whole lot when the randomly chosen profiles that I examine are usually so bad. I went to the Wikitree start page, and what I saw was not encouraging. The first bullet point was "Our community uses DNA and traditional genealogical sources to grow an accurate single family tree." So, the minute a new person goes to the website, they are confronted with a statement that appears to claim (without any qualification) that their tree is "accurate." This is more honestly just stated as a goal elsewhere on the site, but seeing such a misleading statement right at the beginning does not inspire confidence that the managers of Wikitree are serious about fixing the problems. Also, the reference to "DNA and traditional" sources is troubling, because listing DNA first gives the false impression that they are emphasizing DNA evidence, which, despite its growing influence, is still used as evidence in only a tiny minority of cases of genealogical proof. Then, every individual profile is cluttered with a statement about DNA connections, along with a link to MyHeritage DNA, for which I assume that Wikitree gets a cut for each person so enticed. Other clutter (such as the "degree of separation" silliness) adds to the generally unprofessional look. Meanwhile, important information, such as "uncertain existence" (often a euphemism for "completely bogus") is provided where it can be easily overlooked.

One link that you find on the start page is for the "top contributors" of the previous month, where "top" is clearly referring to quantity and not quality. Last month's "top contributor" had more than 10,000 contributions during the month of March. That comes to more than 300 contributions per day. So, if you assume that that contributor worked on this for eight hours a day, seven days a week, for the entire month, that leaves an average of less than two minutes per contribution. Wikitree obviously encourages this kind of activity, because they give "1000" badges and "100" badges each month to those who contributed more than the given number of profiles that month. In March, there were 450 contributors with 1000 or more contributions during the month. With such a huge emphasis of quantity over quality, how can the relatively small number of improving profiles ever be more than just a drop in the bucket?

To all of this must be added the problem that any database approach as rigid as the one at Wikitree, as adequate as it might be for "ordinary" situations, simply does not suffice when dealing with more difficult situations. For example, given a couple of dozen confusing occurrences in the primary records of the same name, relating to several different individuals who have been identified by previous authors in various ways, with the resolution still being unclear (or disputed), a strict profile-based database system is more often than not inadequate, even if there are not additional problems such as cascade effects where different resolutions to one problem spill over into problems involving related families. Another problem that appears to be a result of too rigid a format is the huge number of false dates of birth which are in fact dates of baptism, and false dates of death which are in fact a date of burial or the date of a will or its probate. Of course, these are usually accompanied by alleged places of birth or death, which may or may not be correct. Wikitree is not alone in having this fill-in-the-blanks mentality, which is all too present elsewhere on the Internet. This is especially harmful for medieval genealogy, where unknown dates and places of birth are the norm, and is also true for most pre-1800 English individuals, where we commonly have dates and places of baptism and burial, not birth and death. If a person was baptized at parish X on date Y, I would hope that any competent genealogist would regard it as unacceptable to state that the person was born at place X (possibly false, and certainly undocumented, except for the rare case where the place of birth is given) on date Y (false in the overwhelming percentage of cases). The common substitute that the person was born before date Y, "perhaps" at place X (still a guess), is technically correct, but seems pointless to me, when the much simpler statement that the person was baptized at parish X on date Y is not only correct, but MORE informative, immediately giving the reader the context of the information available in the source. Such sloppiness is encouraged by having rigid "date of birth" and "place of birth" fields which cannot be adjusted to the appropriate context, but sit there giving people the subconscious feeling that they need to be filled in with something. Looking at the format of a typical Wikitree page, it seems to me that someone wishing to compose a decent profile is faced with finding the least misleading way to fill in the standard top matter (the stuff one first sees on the screen upon going to the page containing the profile), and then including the useful stuff where the reader has to scroll down to see it. This cheesy top matter often makes it difficult to identify pages having useful information among the hordes that do not.

Also, whereas I appreciate your offer to correct the errors I was referring to, I do not believe that it would be a productive use of your time. Of the articles that I have had published on immigrant origins in TAG or TG (most of them pre-2010), there are corresponding profiles on Wikitree from all of the relevant families having some combination of: (a) showing no knowledge of the relevant article, (b) citing the article specifically for a "fact" not appearing there, (c) citing the article but then making statements disproven in the article, (d) giving only barebones data despite obviously depending on my article (at least indirectly), etc. I seriously doubt that it is much different for other authors of immigrant origin articles that have appeared in those journals, even ones published decades ago, so there would be no reason to give my lines any preference. (As much as it irks me, my ancestors are accumulating false ancestries, retroactive middle names, and other alleged additional "facts" at a rate much faster than an army of genealogists could correct.) In my opinion, too many good genealogists are spending too much time at what I regard as a futile effort to "improve" a bad product that is already damaged beyond repair. The example of Wikipedia should be instructive here. If one considers all subjects and not just genealogy, those Wikipedia pages where there is a certain critical mass of well-informed contributors tend to be reasonably good. The rest are a crap shoot, mostly on the negative side. Such a critical mass is lacking for genealogy, because sadly, once they get a few generations back, most genealogy enthusiasts are merely copying and rearranging names, not doing any real research. There are many having the aptitude to do good genealogical research who never get there, in part because bad sites like Wikitree and their ilk lure novices into bad research habits right from the beginning.

As I have said on numerous occasions before in this newsgroup, I do not believe that any high quality genealogical database will ever result from the strategy of starting with a huge mass of mostly unreliable material and then trying to clean out the garbage. The best strategy for creating a reliable database is to have a reasonable quality control procedure in place FROM THE BEGINNING, and not as an afterthought. This might mean starting small, such as taking on a project that the available genealogists could complete in a reasonable time, or accepting submissions, with a qualified editorial board deciding what gets included. There is the inevitable problem of how such a project would be financed, and if it was for profit, how much the quality might be driven down by the bean counters (which seems to be a problem for all genealogy-for-profit companies). Of course, errors are unavoidable, but that should never be used as an excuse. It would be nice to have something like "The Complete Peerage" (converted to a linked html format) as a starting point, but there would be obvious copyright problems for CP and most other large works that would make an acceptable starting point. Any approach that works is also likely to cause ruffled feathers and hurt feelings, as some well-meaning enthusiasts would not have the needed expertise to produce work of sufficient reliability. (Perhaps such individuals could be assigned to less difficult tasks.) At this point, I know that someone is going to be tempted to respond that Wikitree is already "certifying" people at different levels for certain types of research. I have serious doubts about this. For example, from discussions I have seen on Wikitree itself, it is troubling how many of these apparently "certified" individuals appear to believe that Medieval Lands is a reliable source.

For those who still disagree with my opinion, I suggest that you think about the following. I assume that any serious genealogist would like to lead others toward good genealogical information, and would prefer to avoid leading them toward the bad. In general, even the best pages at Wikitree are (and will be for a long time) only a few links away from some pretty bad ones, so that the unwary enthusiast who looks at someone's good page will soon be looking at some bad ones there. So, instead of putting your hard work where it will get polluted by the mess that is Wikitree, why not instead write up the same material in a fairly simple html format unencumbered by the restrictions of the Wikitree format, and post it to the web, only linking to other relevant sites which also have a reasonably high standard? (Or, as a compromise, do both.) If there were enough such small projects of high enough quality and similar content, combining them might make a good start to a medium sized project. Repeat often enough, and there might eventually be a large medieval genealogy database approaching the kind that many hope for. Is this scenario realistic? Maybe. Maybe not. However, I think that the approach of starting small and good and working your way gradually toward medium and large, is at least possible, while the approach of starting with a big pile of garbage and then hoping that you can convince enough competent people to clean up the mess for you, is never going to work.

Stewart Baldwin
Chuck Owens
2018-04-13 01:32:07 UTC
Permalink
Wikitree has a lot of garbage with unsourced pages. It's not much better than some of the trees at Ancestry.cok.
P J Evans
2018-04-13 01:45:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chuck Owens
Wikitree has a lot of garbage with unsourced pages. It's not much better than some of the trees at Ancestry.cok.
Ancestry likes to get newbies, more than experienced people (who really use the site for the source documents it has), and they're the ones who go for "same name, must be the same person" kind of thinking. (It's even worse when they think that about a woman, where the tree they're looking at is, like mine, using maiden names rather than married names.)
I had people trying to graft their Evans ancestor onto my tree - and I had the docs there to show there was no such person in the family (will; it names all the children, 10 sons and one daughter (by her married name), and a granddaughter (by which son we don't know: she was an Evans before marriage) and *her* daughter).
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-14 09:06:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chuck Owens
Wikitree has a lot of garbage with unsourced pages. It's not much better than some of the trees at Ancestry.cok.
Absolutely. I think a lot of discussion goes in circles because there is a misunderstanding that people defending wikitree are denying this. They are not. The question for me is a completely different one: does it have a tendency to get better, unlike geni and ancestry trees? My answer for now is a cautious "seems like it does". The reasons can be discussed and considered.

Any attempt to start a massive online family tree will have to start with lots of garbage, so it is useless to compare the starting point with the aim. The question is the direction.

We can reduce the pain we feel at bad quality by having an online family tree which starts from scratch and grows EXTREMELY slowly, but this is not a magic solution either.
s***@mindspring.com
2018-04-14 18:58:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Andrew Lancaster
Post by Chuck Owens
Wikitree has a lot of garbage with unsourced pages. It's not much better than some of the trees at Ancestry.cok.
Absolutely. I think a lot of discussion goes in circles because there is a misunderstanding that people defending wikitree are denying this. They are not. The question for me is a completely different one: does it have a tendency to get better, unlike geni and ancestry trees? My answer for now is a cautious "seems like it does". The reasons can be discussed and considered.
What does "get better" mean? To what extent can a change from "atrocious" to "a little bit less atrocious" be regarded as a significant improvement? Your made a valid point elsewhere that it is difficult for those who aren't involved with Wikitree to see how things are changing. However, I think it is also easy for those who are involved to overestimate how much an improvement in a small number of pages is changing Wikitree as a whole. If you have worked on specific profiles, then you have specific knowledge of little corners that have gotten better, but doesn't that make it easy for you to misjudge what overall effect this has? What I see is that if I go to a randomly chosen page on Wikitree, I almost always see junk. If I follow the links, I see more junk. From my point of view, the pages of good quality which have been pointed out are tiny dots in a vast sea of junk.
Post by Andrew Lancaster
Any attempt to start a massive online family tree will have to start with lots of garbage, so it is useless to compare the starting point with the aim. The question is the direction.
If starting a "massive" online family tree was the goal, then Wikitree has already succeeded. I thought that the goal was a high quality online family tree. [I'm guessing that you accidently typed something different than what you intended, but I still couldn't resist the temptation to poke at it.]
Post by Andrew Lancaster
We can reduce the pain we feel at bad quality by having an online family tree which starts from scratch and grows EXTREMELY slowly, but this is not a magic solution either.
I don't think that anyone is claiming that there is a magic solution to the problem. What I have been saying is that the strategy of starting small and keeping the junk out from the very beginning is at least a POSSIBLE solution to EVENTUALLY forming a reasonably comprehensive database for medieval genealogy. In contrast, form what I have seen (as an outsider) of the procedure at Wikitree
is that the mass of mostly unqualified individuals adding material has created a sort of bureaucracy that makes improvement slower, and still has to be defended against people trying to reenter the false information. I have yet to see any evidence that the "start with a big mess and hope to clean it up" approach will EVER work. Also, if it is the case that this method will eventually work (a few hundred years from now?), then I think that it is fairly certain that the approach of keeping junk out from the very beginning would work much more quickly.

Stewart Baldwin
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-15 08:15:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by s***@mindspring.com
If starting a "massive" online family tree was the goal, then Wikitree has already succeeded. I thought that the goal was a high quality online family tree. [I'm guessing that you accidently typed something different than what you intended, but I still couldn't resist the temptation to poke at it.]
Well in messy reality, communities, in fact even individuals, often have conflicting goals, and changing goals. Hope that clears it up. :)
Post by s***@mindspring.com
What I have been saying is that the strategy of starting small and keeping the junk out from the very beginning is at least a POSSIBLE solution to EVENTUALLY forming a reasonably comprehensive database for medieval genealogy.
It would be wonderful to see more of those. Ironically, such smaller projects can potentially live within a wiki like Wikitree, as long as there is no tendency for the "bad" part to try to take over the "good part". (Which is a reason to keep looking at the tendencies.) But that is just one option. Obviously such projects might by their very nature want to keep themselves separate from other projects.

As you know, I just wish there were more Henry projects, and I wish the Henry project might one day grow further somehow also. The further back we go though, the more ancestors will be shared between all such projects, which means they can useful cite and link to each other.

For the same logical reason, it can make sense to give priority to improving parts of Wikitree which are useful to link to for other genealogical projects: Magna Carta lines (currently an island of good work), Carolingians and other early royal lines (often terrible) etc. When I was working on the 12th century de Hastings families I improved and rearranged quite a lot of those profiles, and when I was working on the Le Stranges of Hunstanton, etc. That was despite having my own website.
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-14 09:15:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by s***@mindspring.com
Post by Joe
Post by s***@mindspring.com
Can the Wikitree enthusiasts point to any examples of pages which have attained the degree of quality that they are aiming for? I have yet to see a Wikitree page which I would rate any better than "marginally acceptable" (and very few even that "good"). The vast majority that I have seen are abysmal. Today, I went through some 1500's-1600's pages relevant to some of my published research. Some of them which clearly depended ultimately on my research (perhaps from a copy of a copy of ...) showed no knowledge of their sources. Some which cited my work cited it specifically for "facts" in direct contradiction from what I stated in my publications. One citing one of my TAG articles, which proved the parentage of an individual, cited my article as proof of the baptism, then gave a different parentage than the one proven by the same baptism (and old error of the type "well, the surname in this visitation is right, and the chronology doesn't look completely impossible, so let's attach him here").
I also checked a few pages for early medieval individuals that I have researched in detail. The news was just as bad there. The page for Brian Bóruma was awful, as were the pages for other early Irish individuals that I examined. Wikitree's apparent policy of requiring fake surnames to be given to everyone who did not have a surname certainly shows its ugly head on these pages. If you go to the page of Gorm the Old (which is bad enough), you can follow it to the page of his father, whose name was apparently <begin quote> King Harde Knud Hardeknute (Canute) "Canute, Knut" Danmark of Sjaella formerly Sigurdsson aka Sigurdsson <end quote>, born in "814" [with no indication of uncertainty for a date which has been fabricated out of nowhere, and is at least a half a century too early (and probably more) to be believable], supposedly in "Hord, Jutland, Denmark, Netherlands" [did Denmark get annexed at some time that I didn't hear about?]. Even if none of them had a clue that the place of birth of this individual (whose "uncertain existence" is actually acknowledged further down the page) would not be recorded (as is true for the vast majority of early medieval individuals given alleged places of birth on Wikitree pages), you would think (or at least hope) that with seven "profile managers" at least one of them realized how stupid all of this looked.
While I was working on the present rant, I decided to look up what they had on Cerdic, legendary ancestor of the West Saxon kings. As it turns out, Cerdic's great grandfather "Gewis Saxony" a son of "Wig Freawineasson" who was apparently a son of "Nfn Frewineasson" ("Nfn" is apparently "No first name"), whose immediate ancestors also bore the "surname" Freawineasson. It is pretty sad when they couldn't even copy Cerdic's fake ancestors from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle without producing completely laughable results.
Stewart Baldwin
Stewart, your interest and expertise are admittedly in an area of wikitree which is just awful. There are very few with the time and expertise to correct profiles from before the 13th century. If you tell me the TAG article you are referring to, I will see that it is corrected.
You have pointed out some good profiles, but it still doesn't mean a whole lot when the randomly chosen profiles that I examine are usually so bad. I went to the Wikitree start page, and what I saw was not encouraging. The first bullet point was "Our community uses DNA and traditional genealogical sources to grow an accurate single family tree." So, the minute a new person goes to the website, they are confronted with a statement that appears to claim (without any qualification) that their tree is "accurate." This is more honestly just stated as a goal elsewhere on the site, but seeing such a misleading statement right at the beginning does not inspire confidence that the managers of Wikitree are serious about fixing the problems. Also, the reference to "DNA and traditional" sources is troubling, because listing DNA first gives the false impression that they are emphasizing DNA evidence, which, despite its growing influence, is still used as evidence in only a tiny minority of cases of genealogical proof. Then, every individual profile is cluttered with a statement about DNA connections, along with a link to MyHeritage DNA, for which I assume that Wikitree gets a cut for each person so enticed. Other clutter (such as the "degree of separation" silliness) adds to the generally unprofessional look. Meanwhile, important information, such as "uncertain existence" (often a euphemism for "completely bogus") is provided where it can be easily overlooked.
One link that you find on the start page is for the "top contributors" of the previous month, where "top" is clearly referring to quantity and not quality. Last month's "top contributor" had more than 10,000 contributions during the month of March. That comes to more than 300 contributions per day. So, if you assume that that contributor worked on this for eight hours a day, seven days a week, for the entire month, that leaves an average of less than two minutes per contribution. Wikitree obviously encourages this kind of activity, because they give "1000" badges and "100" badges each month to those who contributed more than the given number of profiles that month. In March, there were 450 contributors with 1000 or more contributions during the month. With such a huge emphasis of quantity over quality, how can the relatively small number of improving profiles ever be more than just a drop in the bucket?
To all of this must be added the problem that any database approach as rigid as the one at Wikitree, as adequate as it might be for "ordinary" situations, simply does not suffice when dealing with more difficult situations. For example, given a couple of dozen confusing occurrences in the primary records of the same name, relating to several different individuals who have been identified by previous authors in various ways, with the resolution still being unclear (or disputed), a strict profile-based database system is more often than not inadequate, even if there are not additional problems such as cascade effects where different resolutions to one problem spill over into problems involving related families. Another problem that appears to be a result of too rigid a format is the huge number of false dates of birth which are in fact dates of baptism, and false dates of death which are in fact a date of burial or the date of a will or its probate. Of course, these are usually accompanied by alleged places of birth or death, which may or may not be correct. Wikitree is not alone in having this fill-in-the-blanks mentality, which is all too present elsewhere on the Internet. This is especially harmful for medieval genealogy, where unknown dates and places of birth are the norm, and is also true for most pre-1800 English individuals, where we commonly have dates and places of baptism and burial, not birth and death. If a person was baptized at parish X on date Y, I would hope that any competent genealogist would regard it as unacceptable to state that the person was born at place X (possibly false, and certainly undocumented, except for the rare case where the place of birth is given) on date Y (false in the overwhelming percentage of cases). The common substitute that the person was born before date Y, "perhaps" at place X (still a guess), is technically correct, but seems pointless to me, when the much simpler statement that the person was baptized at parish X on date Y is not only correct, but MORE informative, immediately giving the reader the context of the information available in the source. Such sloppiness is encouraged by having rigid "date of birth" and "place of birth" fields which cannot be adjusted to the appropriate context, but sit there giving people the subconscious feeling that they need to be filled in with something. Looking at the format of a typical Wikitree page, it seems to me that someone wishing to compose a decent profile is faced with finding the least misleading way to fill in the standard top matter (the stuff one first sees on the screen upon going to the page containing the profile), and then including the useful stuff where the reader has to scroll down to see it. This cheesy top matter often makes it difficult to identify pages having useful information among the hordes that do not.
Also, whereas I appreciate your offer to correct the errors I was referring to, I do not believe that it would be a productive use of your time. Of the articles that I have had published on immigrant origins in TAG or TG (most of them pre-2010), there are corresponding profiles on Wikitree from all of the relevant families having some combination of: (a) showing no knowledge of the relevant article, (b) citing the article specifically for a "fact" not appearing there, (c) citing the article but then making statements disproven in the article, (d) giving only barebones data despite obviously depending on my article (at least indirectly), etc. I seriously doubt that it is much different for other authors of immigrant origin articles that have appeared in those journals, even ones published decades ago, so there would be no reason to give my lines any preference. (As much as it irks me, my ancestors are accumulating false ancestries, retroactive middle names, and other alleged additional "facts" at a rate much faster than an army of genealogists could correct.) In my opinion, too many good genealogists are spending too much time at what I regard as a futile effort to "improve" a bad product that is already damaged beyond repair. The example of Wikipedia should be instructive here. If one considers all subjects and not just genealogy, those Wikipedia pages where there is a certain critical mass of well-informed contributors tend to be reasonably good. The rest are a crap shoot, mostly on the negative side. Such a critical mass is lacking for genealogy, because sadly, once they get a few generations back, most genealogy enthusiasts are merely copying and rearranging names, not doing any real research. There are many having the aptitude to do good genealogical research who never get there, in part because bad sites like Wikitree and their ilk lure novices into bad research habits right from the beginning.
As I have said on numerous occasions before in this newsgroup, I do not believe that any high quality genealogical database will ever result from the strategy of starting with a huge mass of mostly unreliable material and then trying to clean out the garbage. The best strategy for creating a reliable database is to have a reasonable quality control procedure in place FROM THE BEGINNING, and not as an afterthought. This might mean starting small, such as taking on a project that the available genealogists could complete in a reasonable time, or accepting submissions, with a qualified editorial board deciding what gets included. There is the inevitable problem of how such a project would be financed, and if it was for profit, how much the quality might be driven down by the bean counters (which seems to be a problem for all genealogy-for-profit companies). Of course, errors are unavoidable, but that should never be used as an excuse. It would be nice to have something like "The Complete Peerage" (converted to a linked html format) as a starting point, but there would be obvious copyright problems for CP and most other large works that would make an acceptable starting point. Any approach that works is also likely to cause ruffled feathers and hurt feelings, as some well-meaning enthusiasts would not have the needed expertise to produce work of sufficient reliability. (Perhaps such individuals could be assigned to less difficult tasks.) At this point, I know that someone is going to be tempted to respond that Wikitree is already "certifying" people at different levels for certain types of research. I have serious doubts about this. For example, from discussions I have seen on Wikitree itself, it is troubling how many of these apparently "certified" individuals appear to believe that Medieval Lands is a reliable source.
For those who still disagree with my opinion, I suggest that you think about the following. I assume that any serious genealogist would like to lead others toward good genealogical information, and would prefer to avoid leading them toward the bad. In general, even the best pages at Wikitree are (and will be for a long time) only a few links away from some pretty bad ones, so that the unwary enthusiast who looks at someone's good page will soon be looking at some bad ones there. So, instead of putting your hard work where it will get polluted by the mess that is Wikitree, why not instead write up the same material in a fairly simple html format unencumbered by the restrictions of the Wikitree format, and post it to the web, only linking to other relevant sites which also have a reasonably high standard? (Or, as a compromise, do both.) If there were enough such small projects of high enough quality and similar content, combining them might make a good start to a medium sized project. Repeat often enough, and there might eventually be a large medieval genealogy database approaching the kind that many hope for. Is this scenario realistic? Maybe. Maybe not. However, I think that the approach of starting small and good and working your way gradually toward medium and large, is at least possible, while the approach of starting with a big pile of garbage and then hoping that you can convince enough competent people to clean up the mess for you, is never going to work.
Stewart Baldwin
Stewart I find this a well-considered criticism. I hope this and other similar criticisms can help wikitree in areas where it can be helped. (As you say, some problems are always going to be hard to get rid of, simply because of the large scale aim.)

On the other hand, I think your counter-proposal of smaller-scale high quality work is very valid, and the genealogical world is going to be better if BOTH approaches are followed.

FWIW there are many efforts within wikitree to both "attack" the weak points which can be attacked, and also to develop smaller scale projects that can hopefully grow and spread, and also demonstrate what is possible to the rest of the project.

Personally, although I've only occasionally helped them out, I find the Magna Carta project in Wikitree very practical and positive in its approach and achievements for example. This is a small group who check, source, simplify various "Magna Carta lines", mainly (but not only) using Richardson.
taf
2018-04-14 19:03:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by s***@mindspring.com
To all of this must be added the problem that any database approach as
rigid as the one at Wikitree, as adequate as it might be for "ordinary"
situations, simply does not suffice when dealing with more difficult
situations.
Something as simple as the requirement for a surname causes misleading entries. Stephanie, wife of William of Burgundy, has been trimmed back to accurately reflect the fact that her parentage is unknown. However, she is still given the name: Etiennette (Longwy), which rather begs the question. It is pretty clear to me that a lot of contributors actually think these are surnames, as if the wife of Alfonso VI was really called Constance Capet, or to cite a case on another platform, Agatha von Brunswick Aetheling, daughter of Istvan, King of Hungary on Find-a-Grave. (And while we are at it, both pages for the mistresses of Alfonso VI make a compete hash of things, giving family structures completely at odds with the cited sources, and in the case of Zaida, making an argument for the desired reconstruction in the face of scholarly consensus to the contrary, while at the same time not really understanding anything - it shows her married to her own brother.)

If you want a real howler, though, follow the descendants of Gonzalo Osoriz (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Osorio-14). He is shown as b. 1141 (which is just a guess, but is the least of our problems), the father of Osorio Gonzalez, the father of Rodrigo Escobar Osorio, born in España, Santa Fe, Argentina. That 's right. Columbus took with him a 350 year old man who then went to Argentina and had a son. Rodrigo is given as father of Alvar DeVera Guzman, b. 1571. Three generations spanning 430 years. And the thing is, I didn't have to look very hard to find this.

taf
s***@gmail.com
2018-04-14 19:49:16 UTC
Permalink
I wanted to post this on WikiTree but believe it did not go through due to a spam error.

Shelley Freestone is the Profile Manager of Henry Delamare.

Hi Shelley,

I’ve looked at the Baynton line and it looks very good. The de la Mare info associated with it also looks good.

However when I look at Henry de la Mare b abt 1212 = Petronilla Craon de Vaux. Yes, Henry DLM did marry Petronilla Craon later de Vaux, but you have the wrong Henry DLM. It is Henry DLM of RENDCOMBE, Gloucs who marries Petronilla de Craon. Another Henry DLM, living in this timeframe, is of ALVESCOT, Oxford; Winterbourne, Gloucs married Matilda le Norrays.

The source given is about Petronilla de Craon marring William Longchamps, Henry DLM and Oliver de Vaux, which is correct, but the source link given is about the de Craon family. The land mentioned is Vargeburn, Hampshire; it is from Projects/Medlands. Even when you go to Projects/Medlands, the Delamare info is very confusing, it has these 2 Henry’s lumped together, so it is not a very good source.
http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/ENGLISHNOBILITYMEDIEVAL3L-O.htm#_Toc321390306
Click on La Mare – This is all mixed up. Petronilla de Craon married Henry de la Mare of RENDCOMBE. So when you see Rendcombe you know it will apply to this particular family.

See IPM #544 of Petronilla (de Craon) (Longchamps) De la Mare dated 1262 of RENDCOMBE, Gloucs. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/inquis-post-mortem/vol1/pp149-165#highlight-first

See the IPM of Gunnora de la Mare, sister of Henry de la Mare of ALVESCOT, Gloucs.
https://www.british-history.ac.uk/inquis-post-mortem/vol1/pp46-51
https://www.british-history.ac.uk/inquis-post-mortem/vol1/pp35-41

Vargeburn, Hampshire is now South Warnborough, Hamps, that belonged to Petronilla de Craon and went to her son by William Longchamps: Henry Longchamps.
https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/hants/vol3/pp378-382#highlight-first

Would you please update with this information.
Thanks.
Vance Mead
2018-04-15 06:01:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by s***@gmail.com
I wanted to post this on WikiTree but believe it did not go through due to a spam error.
I had a similar problem with WikiTree. A few months ago I found the maiden name and father's name of Isabel, the wife of Philip Mede of Bristol. So I sent a message to the Profile Manager, with a link to the entry in Common Pleas.

Nothing happened. They didn't even answer.
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-22 10:42:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by taf
Post by s***@mindspring.com
To all of this must be added the problem that any database approach as
rigid as the one at Wikitree, as adequate as it might be for "ordinary"
situations, simply does not suffice when dealing with more difficult
situations.
Something as simple as the requirement for a surname causes misleading entries. Stephanie, wife of William of Burgundy, has been trimmed back to accurately reflect the fact that her parentage is unknown. However, she is still given the name: Etiennette (Longwy), which rather begs the question. It is pretty clear to me that a lot of contributors actually think these are surnames, as if the wife of Alfonso VI was really called Constance Capet, or to cite a case on another platform, Agatha von Brunswick Aetheling, daughter of Istvan, King of Hungary on Find-a-Grave. (And while we are at it, both pages for the mistresses of Alfonso VI make a compete hash of things, giving family structures completely at odds with the cited sources, and in the case of Zaida, making an argument for the desired reconstruction in the face of scholarly consensus to the contrary, while at the same time not really understanding anything - it shows her married to her own brother.)
If you want a real howler, though, follow the descendants of Gonzalo Osoriz (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Osorio-14). He is shown as b. 1141 (which is just a guess, but is the least of our problems), the father of Osorio Gonzalez, the father of Rodrigo Escobar Osorio, born in España, Santa Fe, Argentina. That 's right. Columbus took with him a 350 year old man who then went to Argentina and had a son. Rodrigo is given as father of Alvar DeVera Guzman, b. 1571. Three generations spanning 430 years. And the thing is, I didn't have to look very hard to find this.
taf
I was thinking about this post again and thought it worth commenting:

1. The surname concept in Wikitree has been a source of much discussion and disappointment which can be usefully noted for anyone looking at starting an online database. I think almost no one is happy with the way it has evolved. To explain though, the founder's idea was that the field was important for a custom surname search function. This leads to artificial surnames (William Normandy) and artificial standardization of surnames (Lestraunge generally evolved in modern Strange, except in Harry Potter, so all of that family have to supposedly have Strange in the key searchable field LNAB). My standard comment on this is that it would have been better to have a normal modern flexible search function, as available already in uncustomized Wikimedia software, or just by adding a google widget or similar. The custom surname search, for all the efforts made, is often useless for early periods. The message I get is: use the internet's strengths. Don't base your philosophy on how things work best in paper publications.

2. Continental European lines are often surprisingly bad, and unworked upon. This was not surprising when I found this for Henry III ancestry, because in general everything before 1200 is poorly worked on so far, and between 1200 and 1500 the best work has been on Magna Carta lines and similar, but I also saw this in more recent centuries when working on Edward III descents. But we should not exaggerate the importance of wikitrees weak areas, as even one editor can make a big difference on hundreds of profiles over a few weeks. I have seen some French, German, Spanish and Dutch speaking editors having an impact in recent years, and Wikitree has also started to get more flexible about surname etc depending on country. So while any large genealogy project will always have such problems, there is no doubt that this continues to improve in fits and starts, with very few slips backwards. Anyone doing any type of online collaboration should try to develop an approach which does not slip backwards. This is more important than avoiding all mistakes IMHO.
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-11 16:23:09 UTC
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Post by s***@mindspring.com
Can the Wikitree enthusiasts point to any examples of pages which have attained the degree of quality that they are aiming for? I have yet to see a Wikitree page which I would rate any better than "marginally acceptable" (and very few even that "good"). The vast majority that I have seen are abysmal. Today, I went through some 1500's-1600's pages relevant to some of my published research. Some of them which clearly depended ultimately on my research (perhaps from a copy of a copy of ...) showed no knowledge of their sources. Some which cited my work cited it specifically for "facts" in direct contradiction from what I stated in my publications. One citing one of my TAG articles, which proved the parentage of an individual, cited my article as proof of the baptism, then gave a different parentage than the one proven by the same baptism (and old error of the type "well, the surname in this visitation is right, and the chronology doesn't look completely impossible, so let's attach him here").
I also checked a few pages for early medieval individuals that I have researched in detail. The news was just as bad there. The page for Brian Bóruma was awful, as were the pages for other early Irish individuals that I examined. Wikitree's apparent policy of requiring fake surnames to be given to everyone who did not have a surname certainly shows its ugly head on these pages. If you go to the page of Gorm the Old (which is bad enough), you can follow it to the page of his father, whose name was apparently <begin quote> King Harde Knud Hardeknute (Canute) "Canute, Knut" Danmark of Sjaella formerly Sigurdsson aka Sigurdsson <end quote>, born in "814" [with no indication of uncertainty for a date which has been fabricated out of nowhere, and is at least a half a century too early (and probably more) to be believable], supposedly in "Hord, Jutland, Denmark, Netherlands" [did Denmark get annexed at some time that I didn't hear about?]. Even if none of them had a clue that the place of birth of this individual (whose "uncertain existence" is actually acknowledged further down the page) would not be recorded (as is true for the vast majority of early medieval individuals given alleged places of birth on Wikitree pages), you would think (or at least hope) that with seven "profile managers" at least one of them realized how stupid all of this looked.
While I was working on the present rant, I decided to look up what they had on Cerdic, legendary ancestor of the West Saxon kings. As it turns out, Cerdic's great grandfather "Gewis Saxony" a son of "Wig Freawineasson" who was apparently a son of "Nfn Frewineasson" ("Nfn" is apparently "No first name"), whose immediate ancestors also bore the "surname" Freawineasson. It is pretty sad when they couldn't even copy Cerdic's fake ancestors from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle without producing completely laughable results.
Stewart Baldwin
There are very few really good articles on Wikitree. That is kind of how Wikis work though. The main practical question is whether the articles are getting worse or better. Typical of any wiki every editor is free to work on what they like, so some like making the format nice, and others are more interested in the basic content such as getting people connected properly and having some basic sources laid out.
dtvmcdonald
2018-04-13 18:52:55 UTC
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Post by s***@mindspring.com
Can the Wikitree enthusiasts point to any examples of pages which
have attained the degree of quality that they are aiming for?

Certainly!

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Rose-6077 and maternal ancestry back to
Stewart-1625

This is due to me and was shown in s.g.m. years ago. A very few minor
additional sources have been found since then, including a jpg file
of the Rose of Montcoffer matriculation (which adds nothing, however,
as the Rose of Virginia one quotes all that's pertinent, correctly).

Doug McDonald
HWinnSadler
2018-04-10 23:11:25 UTC
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I'm not a wikitree enthusiast by any stretch, I think it has terrible quality for most of its pages. However, there are a few that are really good examples of what can be achieved, for example, the articles on my New England Immigrant ancestors Edmund Rice, Thomas Stanton, and Richard Bowen, linked below.

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Rice-52
https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Stanton-67
https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Bowen-480

In regards to Richard Bowen, he is a false Gateway ancestor,for many years there has been a fabricated Genealogy in circulation making him the son of a Nobleman, but when he was otherwise just another Welsh peasant. There is a very nice wikitree thread about that genealogy, debunking it.
r***@gmail.com
2018-04-11 12:28:51 UTC
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I see there is a way to fix it. But where WikiTree errs is that it does not appear to have a way to source individual facts. The page in question is basically a "dump" from a wildly inaccurate Ancestry.com family tree, and the manager has not provided other sources.
Why shouldn't it be as accurate as the Henry Project, or at least close to that. After all, what needs to happen is sourcing. Simple as that. This is my great-grandmother...how do I know when and where she was born? Because I have a digital copy of the OPR record of her birth in Blairgowrie parish, Perthshire, Scotland. I know that is her record because the parents listed match those on her statutory marriage record from Dundee. And I know that she is my grandmother's mother because i have a digital copy of the statutory birth record, showing the names of my grandmother's parents and the date they married. If I source those facts, I have created a permanent and valuable record for future generations. That is supposed to be the goal of WikiTree, but it will require some software reworking and tighter standards -- and more education for users.
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-11 16:26:59 UTC
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Post by r***@gmail.com
I see there is a way to fix it. But where WikiTree errs is that it does not appear to have a way to source individual facts. The page in question is basically a "dump" from a wildly inaccurate Ancestry.com family tree, and the manager has not provided other sources.
Or you just haven't learned it? :)

Try using something like this at the point you want to add a source...

<ref>Footnote text here. [http:link Link text here].</ref>

I have noticed some wikis like Werelate have gone more high-tech and have a way to make reusable source entries. Someone has to make each of them first though, and on a wiki the whole point is to make it easy for people to jump on, do a bit of work, then jump off.
HWinnSadler
2018-04-14 02:31:49 UTC
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One error that caught my attention is that Wikitree lists the mother of Antiochia Hawkwood, daughter of John Hawkwood by his unknown first wife, as the daughter of his second wife, Donnina Visconti. This is obviously because some researchers, for example the majority of wikitree users, seem to be the type of Genealogist that never learned the importance of sources. They probably saw that John Hawkwood was married to Donnina Visconti, and then just decided that she was Antiochia's mother because no other wife is listed. However, chronologically, she cannot be Antiochia's mother, as has been stated repeatedly.
Vance Mead
2018-04-14 05:04:19 UTC
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The wikitree for the ancestors of Gabriel Mead of Dorchester, Mass. is a complete mess. It combines unrelated families from Kent, Oxon, Essex, Bucks, and Somerset. Because if they have the same surname, they must be related.
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-14 09:17:43 UTC
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Post by Vance Mead
The wikitree for the ancestors of Gabriel Mead of Dorchester, Mass. is a complete mess. It combines unrelated families from Kent, Oxon, Essex, Bucks, and Somerset. Because if they have the same surname, they must be related.
A problem in all levels of genealogy? I think it is absolutely predictable that in a large scale genealogical project, problems which even good genealogists sometimes demonstrate will be on a large scale also. But again, the question for anyone following the spirit of the project is whether the direction is towards improvement or not?
Vance Mead
2018-04-14 11:24:42 UTC
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Post by Andrew Lancaster
A problem in all levels of genealogy? I think it is absolutely predictable that in a large scale genealogical project, problems which even good genealogists sometimes demonstrate will be on a large scale also. But again, the question for anyone following the spirit of the project is whether the direction is towards improvement or not?
I'm not sure if it is improving, or even if improvement is possible. As Stewart pointed out, people at wikitree get badges for adding thousands of entries, even 10,000 in a month. There is no way these can be competently researched. In the same month as they add 10,000 entries, a careful researcher can only add a handful. So the good research will be vastly outnumbered and the good researchers will get frustrated and leave.

To paraphrase Gresham's law, "bad genealogy drives out good".
j***@gmail.com
2018-04-14 13:44:16 UTC
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Post by Vance Mead
I'm not sure if it is improving, or even if improvement is possible. As Stewart pointed out, people at wikitree get badges for adding thousands of entries, even 10,000 in a month.
I hope you do genealogy better than you discuss wikitree :) It's important to double-check your sources (hearsay is often unreliable, especially when it comes pre-packaged with a toxic bias), and sometimes context plays an important role that changes the significance of an isolated fact.

Wikitree gives a badge for people who make 100 contributions in a month, and a different badge if their monthly total is 1000 or more. Back in the day, when wikitree's Magna Carta Project was starting up, I had a lot of free time as I hacked through the tangle of gedcom detritus and duplicates and obvious bloopers surrounding the profiles of the Magna Carta barons and their ancestors, cousins and descendants for three generations in each direction. It wasn't difficult to reach a total of 1,000 contributions in a month. However, I have other things to do, so I haven't reached 1,000 per month in well over a year, and have no desire to do so.

If you see someone with thousands of contributions in a month, that probably means that they imported a big gedcom (or several smaller ones), so all of those "contributions" happened all at once. Importing a big gedcom is a hassle, because you have to go through each name and double-check potential duplicates before the system will let you proceed. And any pre-1700 individuals in a gedcom are automatically rejected -- pre-1700 profiles have to be created one at a time.

Then there are wikitree volunteers who go through hundreds of profiles at a time (working from a computer-generated list) and, for example, add a tag saying the the profile lacks source information, or adding a "category" tag to everyone who was born in, say, Redruth, Cornwall. That will quickly raise the number of contributions into the thousands without adding any false information. (You can check at the top of the biography section of any wikitree profile and see what categories have been added. Some people spend a lot of time adding category tags to profiles.)

Once again, context is critical. If you know the nature of the beast, criticisms will get more nuanced.
taf
2018-04-14 14:27:12 UTC
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Post by j***@gmail.com
If you see someone with thousands of contributions in a month, that probably
means that they imported a big gedcom (or several smaller ones), so all of
those "contributions" happened all at once. Importing a big gedcom is a
hassle, because you have to go through each name and double-check potential
duplicates before the system will let you proceed
Just imagine the hassle if you had to check them for accuracy too.

You say this is the explanation as if that makes it OK then, but this is exactly what the complaint is - that WikiTree allows, even celebrates, the bulk uploading of unverified material. Yes, some people are just uploading a GEDCOM they themselves have built through years of careful research, but we all know that most people with massive GEDCOMs have generated them by merging in material that they themselves have not independently researched, and that becomes a problem if the only verification done before putting it into a website with pretensions of accuracy is to insure no one else has uploaded that name previously.

taf
j***@gmail.com
2018-04-14 16:26:08 UTC
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Post by taf
You say this is the explanation as if that makes it OK then, but this is exactly what the complaint is - that WikiTree allows, even celebrates, the bulk uploading of unverified material.
Not "OK," but "more nuanced criticism" is the phrase I used.

WikiTree is evolving, step-by-step, with restrictions on what can be uploaded, limitations on what is "acceptable" on a wikitree profile, and oversight that catches the most egregious offenders. To say that wikitree "celebrates" the bulk uploading of unverified material is just not right.

Once again, bulk uploading is NOT ALLOWED pre-1700. How many mega databases are there that don't have anybody born before 1700?

Post-1700, it can be a romper room, as people can get away with ignoring wikitree's "honor code" (that everybody must accept as they come in the door, including a point about adding sources). My approach to that: I'm either a manager or on the trusted list of every profile of my post-1700 ancestors, and two or three times a year somebody will try to add something bogus, and I get a daily notification and embrace the opportunity to help the well-meaning armchair genealogist come up to speed on why [insert groundless internet fluff] isn't accurate.

To get permission to add or edit profiles pre-1700, wikitree members must pass a "quiz" and self-certify that they have basic understanding of sources and how to use them. (And then, if they add garbage, anyone can come along and say, "Excuse me, you signed the honor code, AND you have a pre-1700 badge, which means that you should know that you aren't supposed to add that unsourced/disproven/fabricated fantasy connection, so I hope you don't mind as I reverse what you just did, thank you."

And then, pre-1500, it's a whole different ball game, as there is a high bar to getting permission to add anything at all, and helpful people who know what they're doing rule the roost, and wikitree is committed to getting rid of the leftover deadwood from the early free-or-all gedcom importing days (which is admittedly an ongoing hangover). Hopefully wikitree will eventually test the waters with a new policy and just delete any pre-1200 profile that doesn't have sources. If that goes down well, then pre-1300, etc. The leadership tends to take a cautious, go-it-slow-and-talk-it-over approach to dealing with problems that they are very much aware of.
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-14 16:53:50 UTC
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Post by j***@gmail.com
Post by taf
You say this is the explanation as if that makes it OK then, but this is exactly what the complaint is - that WikiTree allows, even celebrates, the bulk uploading of unverified material.
Not "OK," but "more nuanced criticism" is the phrase I used.
WikiTree is evolving, step-by-step, with restrictions on what can be uploaded, limitations on what is "acceptable" on a wikitree profile, and oversight that catches the most egregious offenders. To say that wikitree "celebrates" the bulk uploading of unverified material is just not right.
Once again, bulk uploading is NOT ALLOWED pre-1700. How many mega databases are there that don't have anybody born before 1700?
Post-1700, it can be a romper room, as people can get away with ignoring wikitree's "honor code" (that everybody must accept as they come in the door, including a point about adding sources). My approach to that: I'm either a manager or on the trusted list of every profile of my post-1700 ancestors, and two or three times a year somebody will try to add something bogus, and I get a daily notification and embrace the opportunity to help the well-meaning armchair genealogist come up to speed on why [insert groundless internet fluff] isn't accurate.
To get permission to add or edit profiles pre-1700, wikitree members must pass a "quiz" and self-certify that they have basic understanding of sources and how to use them. (And then, if they add garbage, anyone can come along and say, "Excuse me, you signed the honor code, AND you have a pre-1700 badge, which means that you should know that you aren't supposed to add that unsourced/disproven/fabricated fantasy connection, so I hope you don't mind as I reverse what you just did, thank you."
And then, pre-1500, it's a whole different ball game, as there is a high bar to getting permission to add anything at all, and helpful people who know what they're doing rule the roost, and wikitree is committed to getting rid of the leftover deadwood from the early free-or-all gedcom importing days (which is admittedly an ongoing hangover). Hopefully wikitree will eventually test the waters with a new policy and just delete any pre-1200 profile that doesn't have sources. If that goes down well, then pre-1300, etc. The leadership tends to take a cautious, go-it-slow-and-talk-it-over approach to dealing with problems that they are very much aware of.
The history might explain why people get the wrong impression. Wikitree did allow and encourage a lot more massive uploading in its first years. There has been an evolution of the policies, and in practice the speed has been shifted down the further back you go.

The trade off between quantity and quality is also a common subject in discussions about such policy evolutions, and again the balance has definitely changed in practice, quite deliberately.

Once again I would say that scepticism is fine as always, but you need to actually look at what is REALLY happening, and that includes which direction things are moving in, not just a snapshot sampling.
taf
2018-04-14 17:30:27 UTC
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Post by j***@gmail.com
To say that wikitree "celebrates" the bulk uploading of unverified material
is just not right.
Your own words: "Wikitree gives a badge for people who make 100 contributions in a month, and a different badge if their monthly total is 1000 or more. . . . If you see someone with thousands of contributions in a month, that probably means that they imported a big gedcom (or several smaller ones), so all of those "contributions" happened all at once. Importing a big gedcom is a hassle, because you have to go through each name and double-check potential duplicates before the system will let you proceed."

Pretty much matches my description, when they are giving badges for quantity, when the only care for quality is that it doesn't duplicate.

taf
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-14 16:49:35 UTC
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Post by Vance Mead
Post by Andrew Lancaster
A problem in all levels of genealogy? I think it is absolutely predictable that in a large scale genealogical project, problems which even good genealogists sometimes demonstrate will be on a large scale also. But again, the question for anyone following the spirit of the project is whether the direction is towards improvement or not?
I'm not sure if it is improving, or even if improvement is possible. As Stewart pointed out, people at wikitree get badges for adding thousands of entries, even 10,000 in a month. There is no way these can be competently researched. In the same month as they add 10,000 entries, a careful researcher can only add a handful. So the good research will be vastly outnumbered and the good researchers will get frustrated and leave.
To paraphrase Gresham's law, "bad genealogy drives out good".
A contribution is an edit, not a new article.
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-14 09:23:30 UTC
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Post by HWinnSadler
One error that caught my attention is that Wikitree lists the mother of Antiochia Hawkwood, daughter of John Hawkwood by his unknown first wife, as the daughter of his second wife, Donnina Visconti. This is obviously because some researchers, for example the majority of wikitree users, seem to be the type of Genealogist that never learned the importance of sources. They probably saw that John Hawkwood was married to Donnina Visconti, and then just decided that she was Antiochia's mother because no other wife is listed. However, chronologically, she cannot be Antiochia's mother, as has been stated repeatedly.
I think one of the only online trees which strongly resists the urge to put in a guess where there is a gap is the Henry project. It has always been a problem since genealogy began. (See the "begat" genealogies of ancient records.) There is a stronger push to get rid of superficial assumptions in recent years.

Typical assumptions include making the spouse of a known parent the other parent, making the baptism date the birth date (or, a bit better, the baptism year the birth year, which is arguably acceptable for some periods), connecting a known grandparent via any convenient child of that grandparent, and so on. I think the struggle against these is not only in wikitree.
j***@gmail.com
2018-04-19 01:58:46 UTC
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Post by HWinnSadler
One error that caught my attention is that Wikitree lists the mother of Antiochia Hawkwood, daughter of John Hawkwood by his unknown first wife, as the daughter of his second wife, Donnina Visconti.
I detached Donnina as Antiochia's mother.
Post by HWinnSadler
The wikitree for the ancestors of Gabriel Mead of Dorchester, Mass. is a complete mess. It combines unrelated families from Kent, Oxon, Essex, Bucks, and Somerset. Because if they have the same surname, they must be related.
I detached Thomas Mead and Joan Wycliff of Essex as the parents of Henricus Mead of Somerset; I think that cleans up the mess, at least regarding the family of Gabriel Mead.
Post by HWinnSadler
Yes, Henry DLM did marry Petronilla Craon later de Vaux, but you have the wrong Henry DLM.
I copied and pasted the entire discussion of Henry de la Mare onto a new "G2G" discussion thread at https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/596282/the-wrong-henry-de-la-mare-married-petronilla-craon

I imagine this will attract attention, but perhaps not right away. My understanding is that anybody can post anonymously on a G2G thread, so you should be able to respond or add further discussion if you want.
Vance Mead
2018-04-19 04:12:13 UTC
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Post by j***@gmail.com
I detached Thomas Mead and Joan Wycliff of Essex as the parents of Henricus Mead of Somerset; I think that cleans up the mess, at least regarding the family of Gabriel Mead.
I researched Gabriel Mead's origins. He was christened 4 October 1590 in Henley upon Thames, Oxon, the son of Thomas Meades and Emlin Carter. There are parish records at the county record office in Oxford and transcripts at the library of the Society of Genealogists in London. Also there is a will of Thomas Meades of Henley upon Thames, dated March 23, 1623/4 and proved in 1629. He mentions Gabriel: "Item all the rest of my goods, money, credit, cattle & chattels, moveable and immoveable not before bequeathed, my debt paid and funeral expenses discharged, I give and bequeath to Gabriell Meades my youngest son whom I make and ordain executor of this my last will and testament".

I have more here:
https://sites.google.com/site/meadfamilyhistory/home/family/gabriel-meades

And wills here:
https://sites.google.com/site/meadfamilyhistory/home/wills/oxford/wills
j***@gmail.com
2018-04-20 03:09:22 UTC
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I researched Gabriel Mead's origins. He was christened 4 October 1590 in Henley upon Thames, Oxon, the son of Thomas Meades and Emlin Carter....
I posted a comment on Gabriel Meade's wikitree profile at https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Meade-270

I'll follow up if neither of the profile managers does anything, but both of them have been active recently and it's "good manners" at wikitree to let a profile manager have the first shot at doing a revision.
Vance Mead
2018-04-20 03:37:22 UTC
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Post by j***@gmail.com
I posted a comment on Gabriel Meade's wikitree profile at https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Meade-270
Ok, thanks.
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