"of Nivelles" is not a name, Surnames in this time period are an anachronism, She is simply St. Gertrude. The fact that she was Abbess of the Benedictine monastery of Nivelles does not make that her name."
Sure, we know that. The problem is knowing who we're talking about from a research point of view, and from the point of view of distinguishing between other Gertrudes. You could argue that "Saint Gertrude" isn't her name either, since she wasn't known by that during her lifetime.
The convention I've been following is to use the name found in wikipedia for the page and for the "preferred name". This may or may not be a name that the person was known by in their lifetime, but it is the name that wikipedia uses and, therefore, is a name that other researchers will probably recognize as specifying this person. "Gertrude" only, as a naked given name, should also appear, since it was presumably a name she was known by during her lifetime. Also, a second alternate should be Gertrude as the given name, and "Saint" as the prefix title.
Arguably, if you really follow wikipedia's developing name conventions, the name should probably be "Gertrude, Abbess of Nivelles", but I would only suggest that if/when wikipedia changes the existing page name.
So why not change this back to the name of the wikipedia page, and add the other forms as alternates?
Question, does the search engine search on alternate name fields? The drop down list for the alternate name field lists several choices, but does not include nickname, byname, Patronym, toponym etc. which are what these identifiers actually are. They are not hereditary, nor do they pass to the spouse, but people using them as such perpetuate and magnify the errors. It appears to me that most pages in Wikipedia do not use them as surnames, but rather within the text for disambiguation. If the person page is used properly, I believe that the persons identity will be clear. Especially if the page is linked to the wikipedia article and/or other reliable source.
"Saint", "Abbess of Nivilles" etc. are actualy titles and the form has space for that. Again will the search engine search titles?
Misuse of the forms to me creates annoying situations. For example, people who are compelled to to fill in all the blanks often will name the spouse Mrs Charles Smith if the name is unknown, resulting in Family Page "Charles Smith and Charles Smith". Obvious errors are perpetuated in this manner as well. The person page for Rollo is a good example. His surname was not Ragnvaldsson, his parentage is unknown but the many instances of the use of this name promotes belief in the mythical parentage. Poppa was not Poppa de Crepon, Crepon was the domain given to her brother Herfast by Richard, her eventual husband. Her parentage is also unknown, but the false notion that Herfast was her father is perpetuated by the use of de Crepon as her surname. There are pages here named Duke of Normandy, which is certainly not a name and is not only ambiguous, but also anachronistic. With medieval figures, I feel it is as important to get the names right as well as the genealogy. The wiki model should result in weeding out the myth, fancy and all the other crap that is out there. I am no expert on medieval genealogy, but I know a recognize a lot of misinformation. I have quit editing these pages for the time being. Most of my edits have been reversed anyway. When things settle down and it is decided how to protect these pages, I will resume and hopefully we can attract higher quality input from others more knowledgeable than we.
Read the FAQ at Stewart Baldwin's "Henry Project" website. This was produced by collaboration among several well respected genealogists and represents the kind of scholarly research I would hope that werelate will eventually become rather than just another amateur repository for junk genealogy.
We will never attract serious genealogists unless we can demonstrate that a wiki can produce superior results. What is known of these people is a result of academic research and I seriously doubt any of our current users will contribute break thru information on any of them. Their goal should be to find a gateway ancestor to link them to the known lineages. Correct data with proper documentation will provide for those who wish, the data they need to submit for membership in hereditary organizations.--Scot 17:51, 6 January 2009 (EST)
A little more on this.... [7 January 2009]
We really should take this discussion to a wider audience, I put a blurb on the merging and download page, but...
I'm no expert either, and I'm sure there are all manner of errors in the wikipedia content, naming conventions, and more. Still, the peer review needs to be in front of the widest possible audience, and there's an audience at wikipedia. If you've got names that you think wikipedia gets wrong, tell me. I'll try to get the edits in if you don't want to.--Jrm03063 19:35, 6 January 2009 (EST)