This is the first in a series of posts about my experience(s) with WikiTree.
I have been a WikiTree user since January 2011, and I love it. I don’t know why, but I feel personally responsible when someone doesn’t appreciate the concept behind WikiTree.
There was a blog post about a week ago voicing some concerns a user was having with WikiTree. I don’t feel like this person gave the site a fighting chance. I know they couldn’t have reviewed the help topics or FAQs before they started using it. Here’s why:
The poster’s initial concern centered around the fact that they had to be invited to join WikiTree. The invitation process is designed to keep folks from joining, dumping their GEDCOMs, not collaborating or maintaining their data, and ultimately leaving it for everyone else to clean up. The servers were getting bogged down, so they went with an invitation-only system to ensure that everyone was agreeing to the Honor Code, which promotes accuracy, courtesy, privacy, sources, and most of all – quality over quantity.
This process irritated the poster, which I think probably influenced every subsequent interaction with WikiTree.
There are currently 48,000 users on the WikiTree site. As it stands, nearly 1,700 have signed the Honor Code, but more get added every day. If you are already a user and you haven’t read and signed the Wiki Genealogist Honor Code, I strongly encourage you to log in now and sign it. It just makes sense. (And that *other* paid site doesn’t have one of these).
Another of their concerns was that the security settings were “too complicated.” This is one of my favorite features! Each profile has its own privacy settings. There are six basic privacy settings:
Unlisted (completely hidden except to Trusted List)
Private (the setting for living people)*
Private with public biography
Private with public biography and family tree
Public – anyone can view, but only Trusted List can edit.
Open (anyone over 200 years old) – this means that anyone can view, but only those users who have signed the Honor Code can edit.
*There are 3 levels of private settings for living people, which are more clearly delineated here.
I am completely in control of the privacy settings for each person in my tree. Rather than trusting some computer to determine whether I have living people in my tree, I am able to hide some, or all, of the information on living people. (Except anyone who is under age 13, and the default setting is Unlisted).
Another of their concerns was that the size limit on the GEDCOM upload was a problem. WikiTree limits its uploads to about 2,000 profiles. From the GEDCOM FAQ:
If you have more than 5,000, it could be impossible for you to keep up with all the Trusted List requests, private messages, and merge proposals from other users. And if you can’t keep up, that hurts the whole community. Therefore we are no longer importing GEDCOMs this large.
I only have 614 people on my WikiTree, and it’s hard for me to keep up with everything!
I agree that setting up the profiles does take more time than it does on other paid and free sites. However, on WikiTree, I can decide what I want my profiles to look like. If I want there to be a biography with source citations, I can have that. If I want to put the death information first and the birth information last, I can do that. If I want to make a special page for my great-grandfather’s favorite dog (or car), I can do that! Do you have that much freedom with the other sites? Nope. That’s why my only public tree is on WikiTree.
Please, disgruntled WikiTreer, please go back and give it another shot. I think you will be delighted with the flexibility and increased accuracy the site offers – not to mention the collaboration angle – instead of the cookie-cutter profiles that you find everywhere else.
Next time, I’ll (try to) explain how I create my profiles using the tools available on WikiTree.
**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with WikiTree, other than being a user, and I have not received any benefit or payment for my opinions here.
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