Help talk:Family Exchange Pages

2017 Maintenance Note: This talk page belongs to a project from 2008 that is no longer active, therefore it may contain outdated information. Please see Help:Surname pages for the more recent project.

I don't necessarily believe that this is the best way to set up these pages. I'd personally like to see something that is ultimately easier for the end user. However, until someone figures out how to do this in an easier manner, this will have to do.

That is not to say that the help text can not be improved upon. What's here today (21 June 2008) is simply a first shot at laying out the essentials. There's no question in my mind that the text can be improved upon.

The approach indicated here needs to be tested by someone to see if it works, or if there are specific problems that can be identified---either things that don't work as advertised, or where clarity of the explanation needs to be improved.

The whole idea of using a banner seems problematical to me. I do think this is the way to go---something that will unify every page that's related to the specific Family Exchange. But creating those banners may be a problem for some users. There's a certain amount of art involved in this, and the "tool set" needed to do this is not necessarily in every genealogists bag of tricks. Its my intention to create a few banners that could be used by whoever wanted to, first come first served. But I don't propose to go into the permanant banner making business. Possibly a generic banner is needed---one that could be used with any family surname---but that somewhat defeats the purpose of having a banner. Q 19:41, 21 June 2008 (EDT)

Great job Bill but I posted a message on your talk page. Lauren has created a page using tips from our pages that is easier so perhaps we should change the focus to her page for the tutorial with a link to our page for the more HTML talented. Her page is here Rumgay Family Exchange.

My son is not sure that he can explain the DIV to people like me who are not very well educated in the HTML format. --Beth 20:56, 21 June 2008 (EDT)

Then I would recommend that page for Speedy Delete, and let it go. And yes, that is going to be the problem with DIV's. Nice tool, but not something most will be comfortable with. While I've used them, they usually create more problems for me than they solve, so its not something I'm much motivated towards. If there's anything that would help you from the Help page i created, feel free to make use of it. Glad this has worked out in a way that you're comfortable with. Q 21:16, 21 June 2008 (EDT)

Why are you recommending this page for speedy delete? The original page was created without the Div? Is it unacceptable to you without the Div? --Beth 22:39, 21 June 2008 (EDT)
No, its just that from your previous message I thought you'd decided to go a different way, so this would have been a redundant approach. But that was a misunderstanding on my part. Q 22:47, 21 June 2008 (EDT)

Family Exchange vs. Special Projects [24 December 2008]

It seems that Category:Special Projects and Category:Family Exchange are substantially overlapping in intent. What is the general feeling about removing "Special Projects" in favor of "Family Exchange"? (question to be cross-posted to Watercooler and Special Projects talk - for discussion to reside here). --ceyockey 09:16, 29 November 2008 (EST)

Just as an FYI, I do not believe it useful to run the same conversation in two or more places.Q 10:40, 29 November 2008 (EST)
I am not running in more than one place - the conversation should only run here - the posts in the other places are to draw people here. --ceyockey 12:11, 29 November 2008 (EST)
Ah, perhaps the suggestion to cross post mislead me.Q 18:22, 29 November 2008 (EST)

(contribution moved from WeRelate talk:Watercooler --ceyockey 12:13, 29 November 2008 (EST))

I could be wrong about this, but I don't believe I had any hand in creating either of these categories. The first I became aware of it was when you modified several of my Southwest Virginia Project pages with the the tag Category:Special Projects. I've no problem with that, but if the same tag is being added to individual pages of other "special Projects", than what you are going to end up with is a largish category, with links to a great many unrelated pages. And while all "Family Exchange" pages are probably examples of a "Special Project", not all Special Projects are Family Exchange pages. The Southwest Virginia Project, for example, is not primarily intended to share information about specific surnames; it is not a "Family Exchange". Q 10:38, 29 November 2008 (EST)
The Category:Special Projects was added to Category:Southwest Virginia Project, not to each page of that project individually. --ceyockey 12:17, 29 November 2008 (EST)

On one hand, I'd encourage anything that simplified and clarified things for the end user. But I'm not sure I concur with the proposal to delete one over the other. I might, rather, suggest that we get really clear about which is which and name them appropriately. Right now, there's a lot of confusion (in my mind) about what to use what for:
  • The Help page of Family Exchanges says that such pages are "designed to spport 'one name studies". If that's the case, why aren't they simply called "One Name Study" pages instead of the ambiguous "Family Exchanges"?
inline comment Because we should distinguish between one-name study sources and one-name study original research presented only on WeRelate, in my opinion. --ceyockey 12:47, 29 November 2008 (EST)
inline response Say more please. I.e., please explain the distinction you're concerned about. Not sure how a one-name-study page would be confused with a *source* but perhaps I'm not understanding your meaning. jillaine 14:02, 29 November 2008 (EST)
inline response 2 There are one-name study sources; for instance, much material at (Guild of One-Name Studies ... these need to be collapsed → Source:Guild of One-Name Studies (, Source:Guild of One-Name Studies (, Source:Guild of One-Name Studies ( would be Source-material. What I'm getting at is that a person should know from a page's context and title before getting to the content whether it is an external or an internal product (i.e. 'source' or 'original research' or 'community resource'). --ceyockey 19:19, 29 November 2008 (EST)
  • "Shared Research" pages seem to have been replaced by "Surname in Place" pages. The latter appears to be quiet popular (see its category; there are a lot of them) and the phrase "Surname in Place" is quite clear and direct.
  • Then there's the "Special Projects" category that appears not to be used very much. The help page says it's used for a number of things:
1) special genealogical projects
2) surname studies (why not use the "Family Exchanges/One-Name-Study" pages for this?
3) family studies in a particular location (why not use "Surname in Place" pages for this?)
4) Families studies in a particular group (I have no idea what this means)
I'd say keep "Special Projects" to #1 above. This could include particular research into a given "trend" or series of events that have a genealogical/family history interest -- ala "Spiritual Wife-ism in Revolutionary Massachusetts" or "The 1847 Town-Subsidized Emigration from Schwenningen to the U.S."
Unless there's some other category/type of pages for such things. But end request: Keep It Simple and Straightforward. Thanks. jillaine 12:20, 29 November 2008 (EST)

The "Surname in Place" categories are popular I think only because a link to them is automatically-generated at the bottom of each person and family page. People click on the link and create the category, but I don't think they generally have a lot of content. I'd like to remove these automatically-generated links altogether, because I think that these generally-contentless "Surname-in-place" categories drown out the really good categories that people have added by hand.

I'd be in favor of a general "Special projects" category, which could be used to draw attention to any project where people could work together toward some goal. The fixing up of the Quebec places and the Portugal places would fall into this area, as well as the SW Virginia Project, and one-name-studies that were hosted here. This category could be a place where people could see a list of projects they might want to get involved in.--Dallan 13:28, 29 November 2008 (EST)

Dallan, I think you've got too much to do; you already ahve something like this here: WeRelate:Special_Projects -- jillaine 13:57, 29 November 2008 (EST)
I retract that sort of. The Special Projects page I just pointed to is a page of *werelate* projects. Dallan is talking about a *category*. And here is where things get confusing for a semi-newbie like me. When do you use pages, when do you use categories? Maybe I'm just having a senior moment, but if this isn't kept simple enough and straightforward, people aren't going to use it consistently. Okay, I'll get off my KISS soap box now. -- jillaine 14:00, 29 November 2008 (EST)

A category is just like an article except that links to pages can be added to the bottom of it by editing those pages instead of editing the category page itself. Other than that, it's pretty much the same as an article. I was thinking that if we wanted to create a Special Projects category, I'd drop WeRelate:Special Projects in favor of using the category page instead. I don't see right off the bat enough of a distinction between one-name-studies and other group efforts to warrant having two separate categories, and I agree that one-name-studies could be called a type of special project, but not the other way around. However I don't feel strongly about this.--Dallan 18:40, 29 November 2008 (EST)

Comments from a wiki-challenged genealogist: I'm all in favor of simple descriptive names for categories and/or articles. Smith Family Exchange doesn't tell me what that is. I THINK I understand that Surname: Smith would be a category and Shared Research:Smith, or Smith in Place would be articles in that category. Or maybe Shared Research:Smith is a category with Shared Research: Smith, given name as an article within the category? Obviously, this could use some clarification! I think of categories as folders to contain articles. Correct me if that is wrong!

Maybe any other type articles would fall into Category:Special Projects? I've seen a wonderful study of all families listed in a certain census in a certain location. I guess that would qualify as a Category:Special Project; similar to the Southwest Virginia Project. --Janiejac 20:10, 29 November 2008 (EST)

Perhaps part of the problem leading to confusion is that the term "Category" is used in two different, but related senses. First, its being used in the sense of a 'tag' placed within an article. Second, its being used as the name of the page that collects links to pages containing those tags. Its in the latter page sense that you can think of a category as a "folder"---While there's obviously a relationship between the two usages, they are not the same thing at all. One of the reasons this is confusing is because the words we type to indicate the "tag" and the words we type to indicate corresponding page, have the exactly the same form: ie, [[Category:Surname]].
I can easily envision a wide variety of "Special Projects" where articles about individuals, places and events are collected/created based on some common theme. In the case of the Southwest Virginia Project, we're collecting articles about the places, events, culture associated with people who lived in Southwest Virginia. One could just as easily have a similar series of articles about folks who passed through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky, people and descendants of the the original passengers on the Mayflower, or any other common theme in which people have a collective interest. Family Surname pages (ie, Family Exchange pages as the term is used here), are a specialized form of "Special Projects". Here the objective is to gather information about people who share the same surname---perhaps restricting the focus to certain areas, but primarily oriented to a specific surname. Whether "Family Exchange" is the best term for such special projects I do not know. I suspect the term was chosen because there was an interest in fostering collaborative work---that is, in exchanging information. "XYZ One-name Study", might be just as appropriate, as might "XYZ Surname Project". The latter title might have an advantage of being more intuitive, but its all a matter of what you are, or become accustomed to, rather than there being a right answer. Q 21:37, 29 November 2008 (EST)
Hi Q and everyone. Let's keep Category:Special Projects and eliminate Category:Family Exchange. Perhaps one could indicate the type of special project by entering this [[Category:Special Projects|Surname Study]] resulting in Surname Study or [[Category:Special Projects|Locality Study]] resulting in Locality Study.--Beth 08:42, 1 December 2008 (EST)
Or if the special projects category and special projects for WeRelate, cleaning up sources, merging etc. are too confusing; we could create a new category and name it Genealogy Projects.--Beth 09:12, 1 December 2008 (EST)
The piping you (Beth) show above will only alter the category name if used inline and using the [[:Category: ... ]] syntax. Piping for regular category syntax ([[Category: ...]]) changes the sort order in the category, but does not (should not) change the visible name of the category on a page. --ceyockey 23:18, 6 December 2008 (EST)
Okay, thanks for the explanation.--Beth 08:35, 7 December 2008 (EST)

Conclusion [28 December 2008]

It seems like we've finished the discussion on this topic; can we bring it to a vote?

1. We should keep both Category:Special Projects and Category:Family Exchange
2. We should keep both Category:Special Projects and Category:Family Exchange but rename the latter to Category:Surname Study or Category:Surname Project

  • I vote for this one (above) jillaine 00:19, 24 December 2008 (EST)
  • I think there's a need to keep Category:Special Projects distinct from Category:Family Exchange, Category:Surname Study and Category:Surname Project. So if there are only three options to consider, I think this the best one. However, we don't have a great many examples of these things to look at. There are probably lots of variations on the theme depending on what people are interested in doing. Some folks might only care about collecting information about a surname in general. (e.g., articles ABOUT the surname origen, etc.) Others might want to focus collecting genealogical data for a given surname in a given location (e.g, that's how Beth was doing it.) There are lots of possibilities, but right now we don't have many people doing any of them. So perhaps making a decision is premature. Q 09:36, 24 December 2008 (EST)
  • Based on the current content and the available options here, I would support #2. What to rename Category:Family Exchange to should be another thread. Also, there are arguments for renaming Category:Special Projects based on the current name being almost synonymous with "miscellaneous". From a knowledge management (KM) point-of-view, Category:Miscellaneous is poison. This should also be a separate thread. --ceyockey 22:36, 24 December 2008 (EST)
  • "Miscellaneous" as a category is not so much poisonous (as it does no harm) as it is useless (as a category so broad can't be used to locate anything). However, the point is well taken. Expanding "Special Projects" to include "Family Exchanges" is probably a reach. You could have a family exchange to cover every combination of surname and place that you could think of. Since there's virtually an infinite number of such combinations, including it as a "Special Project" category, is probably not helpful. Personally, I think there are only a few things things being worked on this site that warrant the term "Special Project". Examples are the "AfriQuest Project" (mostly on the Digital Library), and the "Southwest Virginia Project". I can see that there might be some utility in having a category "Special Projects", so that things like this could be systematically identified and listed. I'd sort of like to have such a list, just to see what other folks are working on of a similar nature to AfriQuest and SWVP, and it might be a useful thing to point folks to, as an illustration of the range of possible activities on this site. It might also be useful to create a category of "Special Administrative Projects"--to cover things like merging duplicated ancestral lines, describing geographic locations, or summarizing information sources for specific counties, etc. Q 09:45, 28 December 2008 (EST)

3. We should keep only Category:Special Projects and move family exchanges into this category. That remaining 10%

Ok, let's keep both categories. As for renaming the categories, I have a weakness in this area (naming things). I'll go along with what others feel is right, especially if someone offers to do the renaming.--Dallan 17:19, 27 December 2008 (EST)