WeRelate:Person and family wiki page format

We're going to be creating new types of wiki pages for publishing information about people and families in your family tree. These pages will include sections for entering facts and events, relationships with other individuals, notes, sources, and images. Eventually you'll be able to upload a GEDCOM file and have these pages created automatically. How would you like these pages to be formatted when they're displayed? Would you like to see all of the facts, events, and relationships in an "infobox" on the right-hand side of the page so that the main body of the page is reserved for biographical information (text and images), similar to how place, name, and source pages look today? Or would you like to see the facts, events, and relationships listed above the biographical information in the main part of the page, as exemplified by Ella Boone Grey Phillips and Dhanks/Ephraim Knowlton Hanks?--Dallan 14:25, 16 August 2006 (MDT)

I like the layout of the top section of Ella's page - the table at the bottom is hard to read. I think the footnotes should go to a list of sources at the bottom of the page, since that would seem the most efficient way to handle imported sources via gedcom (when it's truly a citation and not a source, a page isn't real useful.) Also, I don't know if the page names are just a function of the current system or not, but the page name cannot be just the person's name because it's not unique. Ignore me if you think this is obvious, but another wiki site does this and it's ridiculous - I gave up after the first page I tried to even edit couldn't deal with the father and son having the same name. You're going to have to assign some unique identifier to use in the page title. And, on a related note of something else that site does wrong, women should always be listed and linked using their maiden names. --Amelia.Gerlicher 11:02, 17 August 2006 (MDT)


Page title format

I've thought about assigning unique IDs to everyone, though IDs can be difficult to remember when you're on another page trying to create a link to that person. Also, the ID itself is not very descriptive, so when you create a link you have to add descriptive text; e.g., [[Person:2746842|Ella Boone Grey Phillips 1871 - 1941]]. Another approach I'm currently considering is to have a recommended "style" for page titles that includes enough information in the title to make pages unique. For example, we could say that the title of a person page should be the name of the person (and I agree--maiden names for women) followed by their birth and death dates if known. So the title of the Ella Boone Grey Phillips page would be Person:Ella Boone Grey (9 Aug 1871 - 22 Dec 1941) under this approach. A benefit of this approach is that a link to someone shows people their birth and death dates in the link text. If one of the dates isn't known, you could use just the known date; e.g., Person:Ella Boon Grey ( - 22 Dec 1941), which will still be unique for most people. If neither date is known, you could append your userid and/or a number to make the page title unique; e.g., Person:Ella Boon Grey - Solveig, or Person:Ella Boon Grey (2) - Solveig if you had two Ella Boon Grey's in your file. (Later, I'm planning to write an agent (robot) to go around in the background looking at pages that appear to be about the same individual, and adding links to both pages pointing to the other suggesting that the contributors consider merging the pages, which would combine the information on both pages and redirect one page to the other.) What do people think about this approach for unique naming?--Dallan 12:10, 17 August 2006 (MDT)

I run what is essentially a surname study, so this problem has particular impact for me. There are, for example, probably 200 people named John Morrow in my file, and probably at least five of those were born "about 1848" with no death date. I think that if the upload process generates the unique ID, then later if humans want to go through and manually add links, they can look up the ID. They'd need to look up the exact page title for either of the other suggestions anyway - was the full name or date used, whose username, etc. If we use dates or names in the page title, will we be able to change them? What if I create a page for John B. Morrow born in 1793, and someone comes along and knows that his name is John Bates Morrow and he was born 10 Oct 1793, what happens? And if these are supposed to be (ultimately) communal efforts, I don't think the username should go in the page title.--Amelia.Gerlicher 09:43, 18 August 2006 (MDT)
First let me answer the questions: If we use dates or names in the page title, I think we'd be able to change them by moving the page (just like moving any page). If someone creates a page for John B. Morrow born in 1793, and someone else creates a page for John Bates Morrow born 10 Oct 1793, once the contributors found out that the two pages were for the same person, the pages could be merged. One page would redirect to the other page.
I've thought about using unique ids for each page. I think the main question is: Is a title like "John Morrow (about 1848)" followed by a userid and/or a 1-3 digit number more or less difficult to remember and type in correctly than a 7-9 digit number like "2742682"? Also, are we focusing too much on the less-common case where there is not enough information to make the page title unique instead of the possibly more-common case where the name and birth/death dates are sufficient to make the page title unique? Following a name by a number to make it unique is fairly common when registering yourself on a website; would people find it too unusual to add numbers to make page titles unique? It's about the same amount of coding work to go either way. If different people create pages for John Morrow born in 1793, and one of the pages is titled "28352462" and the other is titled "293840569", they can still be merged by redirecting one to the other, just as if the page titles included names and dates. Also, if we go with 7-9 digit numbers for page titles, we'd need to encourage people to include names and dates in the link text so that others looking at he page could see the linked-to person's name and dates without having to click on the link. That is, if I create a link [[Person:283847343]], that's not very informative to someone looking at the page and trying to decide if they want to click on the link. I would need to add link text such as [[Person:283847343|John Morrow (about 1848)]] to help people decide whether or not to follow the link. Alternatively, if we go with adding numbers to names and dates in order to make page titles unique; e.g., [[Person:John Morrow (about 1848) (34)]], then people wouldn't need to add additional link text. And if someone eventually found out the exact birth and death dates for this John Morrow, they could move the page to one with the birth and death dates and without the unique number if they wanted. A third option is to have the page titles be the name of the individual (no dates) followed by a probably 2-4 digit number to make the title unique. It seems to mainly boil down to which format is easiest for people to remember and type in correctly when creating the links.--Dallan 21:21, 20 August 2006 (MDT)
A few things (Dallan's points followed by my responses, just so I can make this post really long...):
"I think the main question is: Is a title like "John Morrow (about 1848)" followed by a userid and/or a 1-3 digit number more or less difficult to remember and type in correctly than a 7-9 digit number like "2742682"?"
I think the first is a lot easier to screw up, actually - rather looking up the number, I'd have to look up exactly how the title was formatted, which information was included, is it "about" or "abt" or "c.", how's the name spelled, etc. Much easier to write down a number and know just how to format it. But in either case I think we're mostly going to be copying and pasting, so it does not matter very much.
"Are we focusing too much on the less-common case where there is not enough information to make the page title unique instead of the possibly more-common case where the name and birth/death dates are sufficient to make the page title unique"
I'm sure the latter is more common, but I think the cases where name and date (or at least the known name and date) are non-unique are sufficiently frequent that it will cause problems very quickly if there's not a solution. And the bigger you want this site to get, the more of a problem it's going to be.
"If we go with 7-9 digit numbers for page titles, we'd need to encourage people to include names and dates in the link text so that others looking at he page could see the linked-to person's name and dates without having to click on the link."
Absolutely. But easily done, between automatic link generation from the gedcom, and templates, no?
"If someone eventually found out the exact birth and death dates for this John Morrow, they could move the page to one with the birth and death dates and without the unique number if they wanted."
My thought was more, wouldn't it be easier to just be able to edit the page to add the dates or change the name, rather than create a whole new page to get a new title? Much easier for new wiki people, and no redirects to worry about.
I guess what it boils down to is that I really don't see the downside to unique ID's, and I think avoiding the duplicate problem and simplifying editing are huge upsides.--Amelia.Gerlicher 10:25, 22 August 2006 (MDT)
You bring up some good points, and I've been thinking about them. Another downside to number-only page titles is: when you get an email that says a page in your watchlist has changed, you look at the recent changes list, you look at the pages in your watchlist, or you look at the pages in someone's contributions list, if the page titles are just numbers they won't be very informative.
I'm wondering if a good compromise would be to title pages with the person's name followed by a system-generated number to make the page title unique. So when you went to create a new page for someone named "Ella Boone Grey" the system would give you a new page titled Person:Ella Boone Grey (59). This would resolve the issues around needing to format dates correctly in the title and renaming pages when dates become known. And for most of the people in your pedigree, when you get an email saying that Person:Ella Boone Grey (59) has changed, you'll know exactly who it is. There would still be the cases where the wife's maiden name wasn't known initially, so the page would be just Person:Mary (1079), but when the maiden name becomes known it wouldn't be required to rename the page since it's already guaranteed to be unique. What do you (and others!) think about this possible approach?--Dallan 20:38, 22 August 2006 (MDT)
I get it now. I think I either forgot page titles are used in those other ways, or figured you had some way to use some other text as the 'label.' Having just numbers in the watch list/change email/etc. would be quite annoying. And useless. I think the full name combined with a consistently formatted number, as you propose, gets around that problem with the fewest downsides. --Amelia.Gerlicher 16:16, 23 August 2006 (MDT)
Hi there. I'm more of a unique ID supporter myself. Wouldn't it be possible to change the watchlist to display names and not the page title (ID). This would save problems for users when changing someone's name. (You say the title need not be changed, but that could lead to confusion in some cases, especially if something was majorly wrong with the name).--Bjwebb 11:41, 20 September 2006 (MDT)
The thing is, article titles are displayed in many places: watchlists, contributions, notification emails, recent changes, categories, search results, and in special pages. Also, I'm about half-way done with the implementation at this point. So we're going with names with unique id's at this point. If it turns out to be a problem I can change it later.--Dallan 23:15, 20 September 2006 (MDT)
Oh, okay. I hadn't realised you were so far into it. It would be pointless to change now. If we do have name+ids then could you create a rename tool that changed all the links to the page from other people. A policy of not including middle names in page titles (to reduce renaming) could also be useful.--Bjwebb 08:32, 21 September 2006 (MDT)
A policy of not including middle names in page titles seems like a good idea.--Dallan 20:44, 21 September 2006 (MDT)

Source pages?

Sources are a problem that I've struggled with, especially for GEDCOM import. It seems like there are two possible approaches:

  • Create a Source wiki page for each source in the GEDCOM. Add the userid if necessary to make the source wiki page title unique. The advantage here is that people can continue to share source information across multiple source citations for different individuals. Changing the information about a master source needs to be done in only one place--the source wiki page. Another possible long-term benefit is that over time, the Source wiki will have a fairly comprehensive list of possible genealogical sources. The disadvantage is that it will also contain a lot of duplicates unless an effort is made to merge sources. (Similar to merging people, we could have an agent suggest possible merges.)
  • Don't create Source wiki pages for each source in an uploaded GEDCOM. Instead, repeat the source information on each person and family wiki page that includes a citation to that source. The benefit here is that we're not creating duplicate Source wiki pages. The disadvantage is that it's no longer possible to have one master source page that is linked to by all of the source citations. If you want to change information about a source, you must edit all of the pages that contain a citation to that source. I believe that the new system being developed by the LDS Church is taking this latter approach.

Similar arguments can also be made for Repositories. I'd be interested in people's feedback on this issue.--Dallan 12:10, 17 August 2006 (MDT)

Not to be difficult, but can we have both? (you asked...) I really love the idea of having a page with, say, the text of a deed that multiple users can link as a source to people they've created/edited. But the vast majority of sources in a gedcom just have citation info, not any substance. And, it should be said, a lot of people have lousy or sloppy sourcing - I've imported gedcoms with literally hundreds of sources that are all the same automatically generated cite to an FTM CD, or just to the name of some gedcom file (a combination of bad sourcing and some software that duplicates the source entry in the gedcom for every time it's used). It seems a big waste of resources to create a page for each one of those every time a file is uploaded. And since people vary widely in their specificity of even useful sources - citing the 1850 census v. the 1850 Collin Co, TX census, p. 50, line 2, we'd end up with lots of almost-duplicates that can't be merged. Finally, for what it's worth, the vast majority of "editing sources" I do is changing which source is used, not editing the source itself, so the "central place to edit" idea carries limited weight. If your software automatically created footnotes with the source citation from the gedcom, but also allowed manual addition of links to substantive source pages, that might give us the best of both worlds.-Amelia.Gerlicher 10:10, 18 August 2006 (MDT)
That's an interesting idea. Perhaps we could not create source pages during gedcom uploads, but if the title of a source citation started with "Source:", we would link the citation to the corresponding source wiki page.--Dallan 21:21, 20 August 2006 (MDT)

And, on a related topic since you mentioned editing above, what happens when I want to update the data in the gedcom I uploaded? Do I have to update it by hand by editing the pages? -Amelia.Gerlicher 10:10, 18 August 2006 (MDT)

You'll be able to edit the pages directly, or you can use an online genealogy application we'll provide. The online application won't be quite as full-featured as the desktop applications you're used to, but I'm also talking with the creator of one of the popular desktop applications about integrating ("synchronizing") with WeRelate.--Dallan 21:21, 20 August 2006 (MDT)

Just wanted to weigh in here. I'm having a lot of fun manually adding my ancestors to the wiki, and I think I'd be more inclined to do it manually than to import a big GEDCOM. I like the idea of giving a little TLC to these pages, tweaking, filling out sources, details, etc. That said, it's a real pain typing in these sources every time. I would vote for a shared source page, simply for the possibility of using one of the drop-down boxes to make this job easier. Besides, it would give us the benefit of being able to flag a source as suspect, and let the system automatically flag anything attributed to that source as well. As for lots of close-but-not-exact sources, the same thing can be said about places (Boston, MA, 5th street, apartment 216, etc.) You seem to have had success with limiting the information to city-county-state-country. The same could be done with sources. --Joeljkp 10:13, 6 December 2006 (MST)

Could you explain more what you mean by a shared source page? There are a couple of features that might help here, which we may not have had a chance to document yet:
First, you can type "Source:name of the source" in the source title field to reference one of the sources in the source index. Similar to places, if you type "Source:", a word, and press the spacebar, you'll get a drop-down list of all sources starting with that word. You can create a new source by entering a title not on the list, saving the person, then clicking on the red Source link and editing the page.
Second, if you have sources that aren't generally available to others (say a birth certificate in your possession), and therefore wouldn't belong in the list of all publicly accessible genealogical sources, which is what we're hoping the source index becomes over time, you can create a "personal source" by entering "MySource:your user name/name of the source in the source title field. For example, "MySource:Dallan/Reuben Spriggs birth certificate". As soon as you enter the slash, a list of the personal sources you've previously created pops up. You create a new personal source just as you create a new source.--Dallan 10:56, 10 December 2006 (MST)
Yeah, I noticed this after I wrote the above :-). It's working great! --Joeljkp 14:52, 10 December 2006 (MST)

Maiden Name

Should a maiden name be added as one of the types of the alternate name? For example, suppose that someone's preferred name is Amber Jordan Powell but their maiden name is Amber Lee Jordan?

No, the preferred name is the maiden name. There is an alt name type for married name.--Dallan 11:37, 6 October 2006 (MDT)

Adding person picture

For the most part, this interface is fantastic. I love the part where we can label people. To nitpick:

- I think you're missing a license: Public domain: Photo first appeared in United States before 1964 and copyright was not renewed. (Only in 1992 did copyright renewal become automatic, before that keeping copyright required hoops. Just because commercially viable creations after 1923 are (or should be presumed) copyrighted does not mean that all materials are. I know you're trying to pay strict attention to this, but this particular omission might scare away quite a few public domain photos.)

I wasn't aware of this. I took the license options largely from Wikipedia/Commons and they didn't have that option. Now that you mention it though, I remember when you had to renew copyrights. I'll check into this and add the new license option once I figure out the right wording.--Dallan 23:11, 12 November 2006 (MST)

- I put in a file name with spaces, then decided I didn't like the addition of underscores. When I clicked the button for redoing the form, I had to reselect the image and the license. (I'm using the most recent version of Firefox on a Mac.)

Thanks for the catch. I'll have the license re-selected when you press the "Re-upload" button -- that's a bug. Unfortunately, I can't set the filename to what you previously entered because there isn't a way for me to pre-set the filename on an upload file input field (at least not one I can find). This is probably so that website designers can't trick you into uploading files that you didn't enter.--Dallan 23:11, 12 November 2006 (MST)

- Then, when I went back to the person page, I had to remember exactly what I typed, and had to try three times to get it right.

Good point! I'll add autocomplete for images so when you start entering the image name on the person page you'll get a dropdown of the matching images in your watchlist (which includes all images that you've uploaded).--Dallan 23:11, 12 November 2006 (MST)

Great job. I hope I have some time to play with it more. --Amelia.Gerlicher 19:49, 12 November 2006 (MST)

Thanks!--Dallan 23:11, 12 November 2006 (MST)

Order of Children

Currently, the children on the Family Page are shown in the order added. I think it would make more sense to show them in order based on their birthdate, with the children without a birthdate listed at the top or the bottom. Are there any plans for changes? --Lauren 09:17, 12 December 2006 (MST)

Agreed. --Joeljkp 09:28, 12 December 2006 (MST)
Dallan will add that in a few days. Thanks for the feedback.--sq 22:50, 12 December 2006 (MST)

Order of Events

On the Person Page, the events other than birth, christening, death, and burial are listed in the order added. Would it be possible to list them by date instead? I understand having the "vital" dates at the top, but it would make it easier to follow if the other information was sorted by date. See Person:Euphemia Rumgay (1) as an example. --Lauren 07:26, 16 January 2007 (MST)

Good point. I'll do that as soon as we get gedcom upload working (in the next 2-4 weeks).--Dallan 10:30, 17 January 2007 (MST)