Help talk:FAQ

A few comments:

- My first question: What is WeRelate? With an answer something like, '1) a search engine for genealogy-related materials and websites, 2) a wiki-based system that allows users to collaborate on genealogy research focused on a person, family or place, 3) a collection of information and research tips on names and places' etc., however you want to put it. The "werelate is you" bit on the front page is nice, but this would be a good place for an actual explanation of what is (will be) here.

- The first few questions (how you get your money, board of directors) are useful, but are they really the most important? More than 'do I need to register?' 'what is wiki?' 'how do I add my information?'? Right now, the first few questions just strike me as irrelevant to the average user, and make it likely that he/she will leave the page rather than getting a question answered.

- I really don't understand the answer to the question about 'why isn't my website listed in search engines/werelate?' First, I think the two questions: why isn't it in werelate, and why isn't it in google/msn/etc. should be separate. After all, you use a some sort of limiting criteria that google doesn't (presumably) that you may want to explain. Also, this bit "For instance, if you post information on the Belew Hills Cemetery and omit the word cemetery it will only be included in searches for cemeteries in texas." How do you title a page "Belew Hills Cemetery" and not use the word cemetery? And who, and how, then knows that's a cemetery in Texas?

- Other questions to add: 'Can I upload my family tree?' 'What? You mean anyone can edit MY family information??' 'Is it possible/advisable to add links to WorldConnect or GenCircles databases to your search engine?' (I'd say not advisable because it's just going to clog up your search with useless results duplicating the search already on those sites, but whatever you want to say.)

--Amelia.Gerlicher 12:57, 28 June 2006 (MDT)

Great suggestions, thanks. I have incorporated these into the FAQ page.

I agree with you about the paragraphs about the founders and directors. But, believe or not this is the most popular question at the conferences. So I put it further down.

One thing, you don't have to worry about overwhelming the search with by linking to WorldConnect. We don't query the internet with every search. We do a periodic crawl, catagorize and index the pages. That index is used for all searches until we crawl again.

Thanks again --sq 09:09, 7 July 2006 (MDT)


Updating? [13 June 2008]

Are we updating the FAQ to be all inclusive? That is, all questions should go here with links to the individual HELP files if possible? --Ronni 10:32, 13 June 2008 (EDT)

Ronni, that was not my understanding. Just frequently asked questions; no one mentioned a link to the help files. I am going through the archived questions slowly and selecting questions. I have only added a few; I suppose they were not frequently asked; but seemed to me that they might be of interest. --Beth 15:04, 13 June 2008 (EDT)

suggested topic [28 November 2008]

How should I prepare my data before uploading to WeRelate? OR Things I need to know before I upload to WeRelate.
What do I do about locations that I have that look like this:

Ravenswood, Mason (now Jackson) Co., VA (now West Virginia) This is very typical!

Jackson County has now been cut out of the early Mason County and after 1863 that area of Virginia became part of the new West Virginia. Also none of my locations have 'United States' indicated.

Should all state information before the Revolution (or some specified date) be changed to 'Colony of XXXXX' to be more technically correct?

If I upload a person without death date or location,

will WeRelate assume the person is living?
What does WeRelate do with living persons?
Or should I tell my software to not upload living persons?
Many of my individuals have 'unknown' as a date of death. Will that let WeRelate know the person is deceased?
Should I tell my program to change all surnames to Mixed Case or Upper Case?
A lot of 'mysources' have names and email addresses of persons who have sent me their family info - too many to contact and anyway I don't want to lose the email addresses. But I am concerned about making their email addresses so public. Any recommendations? Can email addresses in sources be harvested by spammers?
A recommendation that the author run a report of duplicates and/or possible problems and correct them before uploading.

I think these are questions that could be addressed in a forum if or when one is set up, but until then; perhaps something in the help pages. Or did I miss them somewhere? I'm sure other folks will think of other questions too. --Janiejac 22:42, 27 November 2008 (EST)

Good questions, Janie. Regarding living people, I noticed someone's pages the other day that included living people. I did not make a note of the user name; so now I cannot locate those pages. This person evidently uploaded a gedcom with the word living typed in the death field. WeRelate uploaded the "living" people.
Regarding email addresses; it might be a good idea to substitute the word at spelled out, for the @ in the email address. I believe that this will prevent the spamming of those email addresses. --Beth 08:02, 28 November 2008 (EST)

--- I added a FAQ for GEDCOM upload. But, it's very limited. I think it would be great it if people would start editing the help and FAQ pages when they think of things. I think we will have much more comprehensive help. I am so swamped right now, my turn around time is pretty pathetic.--sq 17:32, 28 November 2008 (EST)

"Speedy" Delete? [6 April 2009]

I understand (I think) how "delete" is meant to work. I inadvertently created a particular family page three times before I realized that it "took" -- and since I created them myself, and no one else was watching them, I was able to quickly and easily delete the extra two pages. That's "speedy." But potential deletes that come up as a result of review of duplicates, or whatever, have a warning-of-impending-doom template affixed to them, the candidate is them reviewed by someone else, and the page will eventually (probably) be deleted. That's not speedy. That's "slowly." And I'm not finding anything in the Help pages. Am I missing something here?

Incidentally, may I make a suggestion? There needs to be more rigorous control of where questions like this are posted. Most of the general discussions about WeRelate site issues are all clumped together on the Watercooler page, . . . which isn't how it's supposed to work, I don't think. Assuming "Watercooler" here is meant to be equivalent to "Village Pump" at Wikipedia, most of those discussions are in the wrong place. I posted this query here because there were already several general how-to questions on this talk page -- but I wasn't really asking about the FAQ, either. And yet the talk pages on many of the special pages are empty. Probably all this happened gradually and organically, not as the result of an actual decision, but it might be useful to fix it now (assuming it needs to be fixed) while the site is still relatively small. --mksmith 10:46, 6 April 2009 (EDT)

You can delete pages that you created yourself and where nobody else is watching. That, however, is not speedy delete! Speedy delete is where you need administrative intervention to delete a page that other people are watching/contributing to. Here's the help text: If you are the only contributor to a page you may delete it by selecting the more menu item and clicking on delete. If others have contributed to the page, enter {{Category:Speedy Delete}} at the top of the text box and your reason for the deletion. One of our admins will review the page and delete if appropriate.--Jennifer (JBS66) 10:55, 6 April 2009 (EDT)

I should say that while deleting pages in the "speedy delete" category is not immediate, it usually happens within a day or two which, at least to me, seems fairly "speedy" :-).

As for questions, I agree - they're all over the place. What I want to do (soon, hopefully in a month or two) is to add some forum-like functionality to the site with different forums for different areas (e.g., newbie questions, sources, places, etc.), and encourage people to post their questions to the appropriate forum.--Dallan 13:59, 6 April 2009 (EDT)

FAQ needs updating [13 July 2009]

Recent conversations as well as a recent defection by a potentially wonderful WeRelate contributor underscore the need for the FAQ to include language about what WeRelate is, why people should use it, and how it's different from other genealogy sites on the Internet. See WeRelate_talk:Watercooler#Can_WeRelate_become_a_genealogy_giant_.3F_.5B13_July_2009.5D recent Watercooler discussion. I came here to the FAQ to see what language existed to help new users understand when and how best to make use of WeRelate and found no such language here. Sure, there are many "how-to's" but the FAQ is missing general overall language about Why use WeRelate. I'll start drafting that here and if everyone is in agreement, we can move it over to the FAQ as appropriate. jillaine 09:09, 13 July 2009 (EDT)

What is

WeRelate is a free genealogy web site where genealogists and family historians share their work in a collaborative "wiki" environment, connecting the work of multiple contributors into a single family tree, supported with excellent, user-contributed source information and rich contextual and historical data.

NOTE: I think that the above terminology -- or something like it -- is key to helping new folks understand what they are getting themselves into. Without it, people are going to continue to think that this is just another web site like Ancestry or WorldConnect.

WeRelate is developed and sponsored by the Foundation for On-Line Genealogy, Inc., a non-profit (501c3) organization, and operated in partnership with the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library. It is funded by your tax-deductible donations and supported by a host of Volunteers. WeRelate seeks to be the number one community website for genealogy. WeRelate is already the largest genealogy wiki on the web. WeRelate:About Read more...

How does WeRelate differ from other Genealogy Web Sites? [29 July 2009]

Where sites such as and focus on providing research tools and information to help individuals build their own family trees, provides a web-based environment (using wiki technology) to support sharing and collaboration across multiple researchers and family trees, resulting in a single "tree" with one page per individual. WeRelate achieves this, in part, through uploaded individual GEDCOMs that are then merged with matching information already on the site. Therefore, by sharing your tree or research with WeRelate, you are contributing your work to a larger community effort.

Thanks, I think that is a great idea. I encourage everyone to edit the help and faq pages. Jillaine could you insert a new faq for the Current:New FAQ and record it at Werelate:Current FAQ archive. It has to be rather short. I usually add a new FAQ on Mondays. --sq 09:34, 13 July 2009 (EDT)

Sure. I hope I do it right. (Never done this before.) But I think I get how you're managing these updates. My apologies in advance if I do it incorrectly. jillaine 10:04, 13 July 2009 (EDT)

Jillaine I updated FAQ in June. I added information about how one should reply to messages on user talk pages, but I didn't know about the Current:New FAQ. Does the new FAQ showup on the home page or a portal or where? --Beth 11:06, 13 July 2009 (EDT)

You've written some great material - thank-you for adding it! When we created the FAQ page initially we talked about the nuts-and-bolts but not the how's and why's. They're definitely missing, and I'm glad to see them being added.

When Solveig wrote her response we were on vacation and I think something was lost in the process. To clarify:

  • Help:FAQ - we should put FAQ's here. This is the "main" FAQ page. Would you mind copying the material you've written on Current:New FAQ to Help:FAQ and then delete that page? DONE jillaine 18:01, 28 July 2009 (EDT)
  • WeRelate:Current FAQ - the contents of this page are included on the Main Page. It's used to call attention to a specific FAQ. Solveig changes this every week, but I think she'd be happy to have someone else take over.
Sorry, can't take this on right now. Maybe later in the year. jillaine 18:01, 28 July 2009 (EDT)
  • WeRelate:Current FAQ archive - this page holds old FAQ's that have been featured on WeRelate:Current FAQ. However, in hindsight this page seems superfluous, since the FAQ's should be on Help:FAQ. Nothing links to this page. Would someone mind doing a quick double-check that the items on WeRelate:Current FAQ archive do indeed appear on Help:FAQ, then delete the page? DONE EXCEPT... I did not delete the page. Seems to me it works as an important internal tracking device to know what was highlighted on the main page and when. I did, however, add a notation at the top as to what date I'd reached in terms of double-checking against the full FAQ. jillaine 11:27, 29 July 2009 (EDT)

--Dallan 17:02, 28 July 2009 (EDT)

Text needed [30 July 2009]

  1. How do you enter odd characters from a Mac? (we have instructions for windows, but not mac)
  2. What is a pedigree-map and how would you use it?--jillaine 21:27, 28 July 2009 (EDT)

International characters on a Mac (I don't have a Mac, so I'm just getting this off the Web)

  • Acute accent (e.g., ó): Option+e, letter
  • Curcumflex accent (e.g., ô): Option+i, letter
  • Grave accent (e.g., ò): Option+`, letter
  • Tilde accent (e.g., õ): Option+n, letter
  • Umlaut accent (e.g., ö): Option+u, letter
  • French c cedille (ç): Option+c
  • OE ligature (œ): Option+q
  • German double s (ß): Option+s
  • Nordic o slash (ø): Option+o
  • Nordic a ring (å): Option+a
  • AE ligature (æ): Option+'


A pedigree-map is available for any person or family by clicking on the "Pedigree-Map" link in the "More" menu of the person or family page. The pedigree-map shows:

  • a 4-generation pedigree chart,
  • maps of births, deaths, or all event places for everyone in the 4-generation pedigree chart,
  • a timeline of births and deaths for everyone in the 4-generation pedigree chart.

--Dallan 00:13, 31 July 2009 (EDT)

Kudos [15 August 2009]

Nice additions/clarifications, Amelia. jillaine 21:41, 15 August 2009 (EDT)

Gedcom upload instructions [15 September 2009]

Can I change this:

There are several things that you can do to make your GEDCOM upload experience more successful.

  1. Clean data. Make sure you don't have duplicates, people married to their children, dead mothers giving birth -- that sort of thing.
  2. Take a good look at your naming convention. WeRelate will try to force the names into our format. Our format is necessary for the search function and match/merge to work properly. You may want to edit the names you import so that each person has only a given name and surname.
  3. Make sure you don't have unconnected persons.
  4. Clean up place names. Many people have their own unique way of naming places. When working in a public wiki, the place name hierarchy needs to be consistent. Check your place names to make sure they conform to name of smaller jurisdiction, name of larger and so on. Everything after the last comma will be indexed as the country. Generally speaking, WeRelate doesn't use jurisdictional words such as "County," "District," "Town," etc.

to This [Edited 9/15/09 8:45am]

There are several things that you can do to make your GEDCOM upload experience more successful.
1. Clean data. Make sure you don't have duplicates, people married to their children, dead mothers giving birth -- that sort of thing.
2. Take a good look at your naming convention. All page will be named First Last (#). (Titles, middle names, and other name parts are retained in the name fields on the page.)

  • If you have individual given/surname/prefix/title fields in your genealogy program: The system assumes that the first word in the given name field is the first name, and the entire entry in the surname field is the surname. So if you put things like "Captain John" in the given name field and "Smith II" in the surname field, you're going to end up with a page titled "Captain Smith II (1)", when it should be titled "John Smith (1)". Put titles in the title field, put suffixes in the suffix field, remove your personal markers that show your line, etc.
  • If you have just one name field in your genealogy program: either put slashes around the last names (John William /Smith/ Jr.) or carefully review your pages on upload to make sure the uploader chose correctly.
  • Case does not matter.
  • The system will automatically drop middle names when it generates the page titles, but middle names (and prefixes/suffixes) will be retained in the name fields on the page.

3. Clean up place names. The uploader will try to match your places with the "official" names, but you can make things easier on it by making them as clean as possible. Merging places that aren't matched automatically by hand is optional, but if you don't, your places will have "red links" that go nowhere, and you won't be able to display your events on maps.

  • Places must be entered as small to large -- i.e. "City, County, State" NOT "State, County, City".
  • Make sure there are commas between each level of jurisdiction.
  • Use official place names where possible. Specific locations like hospitals do not have place pages, so put those in the event notes. Same goes for things like cause of death, "at sea", etc. Many cemeteries do have pages, so you can leave cemetery names in burial place fields.
  • For United States jurisdictions, you need only the state, not the country. The county name helps distinguish between multiple towns with the same name in the state (of which there are many), but the system will otherwise match town names without them. The word "County" is unnecessary.
  • For other countries, spell out the country name.

I made a few minor edits. This is tons better than what's there now. Thank you!--Dallan 19:58, 15 September 2009 (EDT)

Additional thought to add - it needs to be said whether or not it is really necessary to edit the GEDCOM to add United State to every location? If so, that's really a bummer that will turn away potential uploaders. Also, I thought cemeteries were now OK as places. Do all the names of the cemeteries need to be removed leaving just the location of burial?? That doesn't sound right. --Janiejac 09:33, 15 September 2009 (EDT)
That needs to be fixed. United States is not required. Automated matching has been implemented and will usually grab the right choice. The user should scan the Place tab to make sure.
Cemeteries are getting some very nice place pages. But if there is no page, the user will not get an auto match on the gedcom import and will have to do it manually or leave a red link. Hospitals and schools should probably not have place pages. I just use the pipe if I want them to display.
What this section should be trying to say is "don't put junky stuff in the place field." I see some uploads where most of the content has been stuffed into the place field. My first program had no other field for things so I did it too. But there are now better options available now. But still, this is what people upload and they never fix it on import. --Judy (jlanoux) 10:31, 15 September 2009 (EDT)
Regarding names, some genealogy programs have separate given, surname, and title fields; others put the entire name in a single "name" field. If you're using a genealogy program with separate fields, make sure that you put the name pieces into the correct fields. If you're using a genealogy program with a single "name" field, then if you surround the surname with slashes (e.g., "Captain John /Smith/ II") it will help our import program put the name pieces into the correct fields at WeRelate. If you omit the slashes, the import program will do it's best, which is usually pretty good, but the slashes help. Middle names are omitted from the wiki page titles, but they're retained as fields on the page.
Regarding living people, you don't have to remove living people from the GEDCOM. The import program does that as part of the import process. But if you leave living people in the GEDCOM, you should review people during the import process to make sure that the import program has excluded them or marked them as living.
Regarding places, the import program requires that places be in small-to-large format, with each level separated by a comma, and that the last level be a state or a country (e.g., Chicago, Cook, Illinois) in order to match the place to a Place page in the wiki. You can omit county names; the import program will add them if they're omitted. We've said that it's ok to leave cemeteries, plantations, and (I suppose) hospitals at the beginning of places (use a comma to separate them from the town level). They'll likely result in red links, but that's not so bad. We don't want Place pages created for hospitals, but Place pages for cemetery and plantations are ok.
Judy was adding her comments at the same time I was writing mine. I agree with everything she said. You can use the Place tab in the import program to see how well the places in your GEDCOM have been matched and to correct the ones that were not matched or were matched incorrectly.--Dallan 11:15, 15 September 2009 (EDT)
I'm reading through the support page and I understand why we're having this discussion :-). I removed a couple of incorrect points from the FAQ so that at least we're not spreading misinformation until the new text is written.--Dallan 11:49, 15 September 2009 (EDT)
Another minor question: If you have a census place Dist. 1, Pottawatamie County, Iowa, does the place matcher match it with Pottawatamie County? I can't remember, but I thought it did.--Amelia 11:57, 15 September 2009 (EDT)
What it does it match the rest of the place, then add the Dist. 1 to the beginning. So in this case it would create a "red" link to "Dist. 1, Pottawatamie, Iowa, United States". If the not-found place is a real place, we want to encourage the user to create the place, but for census districts, hospital, schools, etc. we don't want the user to create the place. Eventually we'll want to have a way to try to distinguish between wanted and unwanted places.--Dallan 20:20, 15 September 2009 (EDT)

Page title questions - inappropriate here? [15 September 2009]

I would like to the the entries for "How do I title a ___ page?" removed. The novice user does not engage in creating a page title, it is done by filling in blanks. Having these makes the wiki seem unnecessarily complex. I doubt that it is really frequently asked. Any thoughts? --Judy (jlanoux) 10:41, 15 September 2009 (EDT)

The question was placed here because novice users would enter the first and middle name and the page would be incorrectly titled according to WeRelate guidelines. How is this process now automated? --Beth 11:00, 15 September 2009 (EDT)
I think we should leave the "How do I title a ___ page?" questions in there, but maybe we could just say omit middle names, titles, and suffixes from the given and surname fields, mention that the system will add an index number to make the page title unique, and omit everything else. Also get rid of the questions about "why shouldn't I.." and about index numbers in that section. What about that?--Dallan 11:15, 15 September 2009 (EDT)
I understand the concern about new users entering middle names. The problem I have is that they are really filling in the blanks on the add page form. They don't know that they are titleing (sp?) a page. Having the FAQ worded this way makes it seem unnecessarily technical. I speak from my experience as a new user not very long ago. The issue middle names and Jr, etc should be addressed by the add page form. It is confusing because the form creates a page title and then the user has to go back and enter the rest of the name. Perhaps an issue for the redesign, but maybe if all the fields could be listed at entry time it would be less confusing. Can the FAQ question be reworded to avoid implying that a new user needs to know how to title the page? Maybe "How do I add a ___ page?" could perhaps elaborate on filling in the blanks properly? --Judy (jlanoux) 11:35, 15 September 2009 (EDT)
This page isn't for newbies, it's the only FAQ (as far as I know), so that's not grounds to eliminate the page. And the format of page titles, even if one doesn't necessarily title them one's self very often, is a very common topic of discussion ;-)--Amelia 11:39, 15 September 2009 (EDT)

I was bold and edited the FAQ. (And yes, the fact that middle names get dropped is a design flaw that is on my todo list to fix.) I tried to simplify it and write it from the perspective of someone who is adding a new page, but still keeping the information about how and why pages are titled the way they are. Feel free to reword it if you like.--Dallan 12:45, 15 September 2009 (EDT)

Entering cemeteries as places [4 January 2010]

Re this question: Do you enter a cemetery as a place?

   Yes, if the cemetery is located within the town limits enter Cemetery, Town, Township, County, Country or Cemetery, Town, County, Country. If the town is not known or if the cemetery is located in a rural area enter Cemetery, Township, County, Country or Cemetery, County, Country. 
Should this be changed? We don't have Township in the place hierarchy. --Judy (jlanoux) 12:09, 15 September 2009 (EDT)
Thanks. It should tell people to use Cemetery, Town, County, State, Country, or Cemetery, County, State, Country, or alternatively if the township is known: Cemetery, Township, County, State, Country. I fixed it.--Dallan 19:40, 15 September 2009 (EDT)
So, what if the cemetery (or birth place) is in a rural area and the township has the same name as a town in the county? How do you distinguish the two? I have a birth in Cutler Precinct, Perry, Illinois (one of the Illinois counties with "precincts" instead of townships). But there is also a Cutler town, and the home was not in the town, but was in the precinct. -Parsa 00:02, 4 January 2010 (EST)

In those few situations we at (Town) or (Township) after the name, so it would be Place:Cutler (Town), Perry, Illinois, United States or Place:Cutler (Township), Perry, Illinois, United States. Hope that helps.  :) --sq 22:52, 4 January 2010 (EST)

Thanks, glad to know. - Parsa 23:46, 4 January 2010 (EST)

Can I upload a spreadsheet? [16 February 2011]

The Can I upload a spreadsheet? section seems to be outdated. We can now upload .xls files via Add>Images. Also, for adding information from a spreadsheet to a page, the is a better converter. If others agree, I can update the Help text. --Jennifer (JBS66) 15:24, 16 February 2011 (EST)

I added a spouse that I didn't want [10 August 2012]


How do I unlink an incorrect box --- just made this mistake? It must be easy and I'm missing it???--Djlw1311 17:20, 10 August 2012 (EDT)

Hi Djlw1311, are you referring to this family Family:Louis Gehring and Darlyne Farley (1)? You can click on the Edit link and press the Remove link next to the husband that does not belong to this family. --Jennifer (JBS66) 17:46, 10 August 2012 (EDT)