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Interesting, but[edit]

How would you deal with the fact that someone could start an article about their family tree and claim to be related to, say, Cleopatra?

Can we just get started with a single entry, say, the Queen of England or George Washington, and go from there? Or are there already some geneologies entered? There is plenty of GEDCOM-based geneology on the internet, and I think the freedom of creating something different, i.e., a wiki- based global family tree could at least be tried.

(Or is this not the place to start? If not where can I put it?)

-- Rob, 2:26 A.M., EST, 29 July 2004

I think a wiki is the worst for a genalogy database. Use a customized database with forms and you won't have to care about templates. --TomK32 15:07, 24 May 2004 (UTC)

A wiki is just a database that anybody can come in and edit, so there's nothing wrong with mixing a customised database structure with wikiwiki editing. However, you may argue that MediaWiki is the wrong software, given how it organises the database. So, what are the alternatives? -- Toby Bartels 18:03, 24 May 2004 (UTC)

Just use the new template system. Problem solved. --mav 05:24, 25 May 2004 (UTC)

Have you seen the new template system? I don't think it is an ideal solution for this. A family tree project would be likely to benefit far more from some alternative software. There's no rule that every Wikimedia project must use MediaWiki. Angela 08:18, 25 May 2004 (UTC)

On the one hand, the template system is not ideal, and a new database structure would be great for this project. On the other hand, we shouldn't let a lack of software development keep the project from getting off the ground. We need to look at Wiktionary: and do what they do: start with whatever we've got, while pressing the developers for more appropriate software. (In fact, I agree with the people that expect this wiki to look a lot like Wiktionary, however that may turn out to be as software develops!) -- Toby Bartels 19:08, 25 May 2004 (UTC)

I agree with Toby 100 percent. Further talk at Talk:Wikimorial. Sj 05:27, 27 May 2004 (UTC)
GEDCOM v5.5 files are the most universal data format of geneology files, but the format is old, like 1992 old...yeah in internet years it should be dead. The LDS has a beta v6 format, but as far as I know it is not a released standard yet. v6 is in XML (a good thing)! I don't know quite how this relates, but it seemed like useful information as I typed. 04:41, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Age has it's advantages. It's mature and has already dealt with most of the exceptions. The format is not likely to change much, and that's a good thing. James Birkholz 3-27-2005

Like many who have been involved in computerized genealogy for a long time, I remain skeptical that a wiki is a good medium, except for the prime reason that's obvious to all. Wiki's are accessible. However, a lot of people are more afraid of learning a few things about editing Wiki than sitting down with Family Tree software. The one thing that keeps me from dismissing the idea outright, is that there is one group of people for which this is ideal, and that seems to be the people who appear to make up much of the enthusiasts of this project: the "casual genealogist". That is someone who has an interest in their family history, but probably isn't interested in making it a full-spare-time hobby, digging through courthouses, spending every other weekend at an LDS branch library squinting at microfilms where quantity was more important than quality. If the goal is to connect everyone, you should look at similar, non-wiki projects to get an idea of the scope and participation. Or maybe not, sometimes good ideas need to be naive to sensible prudence, or some valuable things would never get done. The 200-lb gorilla is privacy. The simple solution is to have a limit of no one who doesn't have a death date, whose birth date is less than 100 years from today. Most sites replace the given names with "Living" in those cases. Someone should do the math: xx billion people alive today + xx billion parents + xx + etc for how many generations back (mid 1600's is the practical limit for most European-based families) x ?? bytes. Also, best case scenario, say 1 million active users if this idea were to be the big hit required to eventually link all ancestors into a single linked db. Then you've got the edit wars where it really gets personal, when ppl disagree over history. When records are scarce and Trevor Smith is convinced that his granfather John Smith of Poducnk, OH is the illigimate son of Frank SteppedoftheMayflower Uppercrust, and no of the Uppercrust family decendants will support the claim... Anyway, genealogy is hot now, I don't know if it will cool fast, slow or never. In the US at least, I think that we've reached the magic juxtaposition of today's generation being so removed from the immigrant generation that curiosity blooms when technology makes it easier for everyone to research. No matter what form things take as the years progress, it's probable that more and more data is going to be available online. James Birkholz, 3-27-2005

I agree with James, but the wiki is potentially a good way to capture all the conflicts as well -- in which case it's imperative to *not* have a template. One thing I'd like to see done is provide a machine-readable way to genealogically link existing bio articles. Take for example the Earls of Arundel or really any of the medieval bio work that has been done; if there was a common tag form to denote family relationships a computer could start to distill some data. I think we could define special IDs for the span tag that would not affect formatting but would be a hint, as in the following: Queen Elizabeth II. I guess I'm really looking for something more like a semantic-web style of annotation. --Wes Biggs, 6 Apr 2005

Greetings - please have a look at the WikiTree project. We have started to work on it with Wikipedia in mind - free, collaborative, high quality, culturally sensitive, etc. Why not joining efforts and together achieve the best of the aims and ideas of WikiTree and proposed GlobalFamilyTree. Have also a look at my small memorandum I have published at the Wikipeople talk and on the WikiTree discussion page. Hoping to have the pleasure to meet and work with you! --Tjfulopp 21:33, 28 May 2005 (UTC)

  • It would be very hard for you to join efforts with us since you are using a non-free license. I've commented on this at WikiTree:Treehouse#Licensing. Angela 05:51, 29 May 2005 (UTC)
    • WikiTree is about to change its licence. I do not yet know which licence it is changing to. Uncle G 23:30, 19 December 2005 (UTC)

This doesn't seem to be a suitable inclusion for this Wiki as the family tree for any given family may be interesting to them but is hardly of sufficient significance to be of interest to anyone else. Specific structures for famous family trees is already included where relevant. 03:51, 18 July 2005 (UTC)[edit]

I'm not sure if anyone visits this page anymore, but I thought I'd let you know about a proposal with a demo which has GEDCOM import and automatic tree generation.--Bjwebb 07:55, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

GEDCOM limits[edit]

I like the idea of tackling genealogy via WIKI because it allows for group editing (which most sites do not -- you have to notify the author of the site and hope that they update the information), but GEDCOM has limits. It's great to capture facts and specific events about a person (birth, death, engagement, marriage, etc.), but it is difficult to build a picture of a person through GEDCOM that is something you can share with non-genealogists, that the recipients of which would care to read. To solve this problem for my family, I started using scrapbooks to pull the "boring parts" (from my family's perspective) together with photos, maps, records, stories, etc. The problem with a scrapbook is the same with any printed material, of course -- it's only accessible to those who visit me, or whom I visit. Here are some links to example pages (which I share with other genealogists/scrapbookers):

Family At A Glance || Individual's Page || Family Detail

The above examples do not include examples of the "stories" -- e.g., the story of when my father's father emigrated to the U.S., when my mother's father rescued some kids from a burning house. A genealogy WIKI might be able to do that.

In addition to being very event-driven, there are other problems with GEDCOM:

-- entering date ranges (e.g., 1812-1814, Served in the 9th Infantry of Maine).

-- properly sourcing your information, e.g., you found the first name of the wife through the census record, but her maiden name was listed on an engagement record. Putting the two together gives you the connection to her family and to her husband's family. I occasionally get questions from people who ask "How did you make that connection?" and then have to go back to the referenced sources to re-figure out what I did.

-- extracting the information for re-use. I have to plead ignorance of WIKI, but many family members ask me for copies of the genealogy information so that they can add it to their scrapbooks, incorporate it into their school project. I would love to see a way to download a family branch into something useable (PDF?) for these scenarios.

-- if we could either append genealogy source information to the current wikipedia or have a separate area, that would help researchers. I am soooo tired of portals that link to portals that link to portals. Trying to get to what information is available for an area and how to access it (is it a book in a church archive, microfiche at LDS, online database, etc.) is getting to be more time consuming.

Overall, I like the idea of using wiki to link a biography-style page to the parents, etc. (and please forgive me if I have broken any wiki-etiquette -- this is my first post) --Lizurd 17:46, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I have been thinking that a genealogical wiki is a good idea, lo and behold, I find here that others are thinking the same way. My credentials for commenting here are that I am a genealogy junky and a database administrator by profession. I've spent a lot of time watching messages on the lists. For an example of web-based genealogical databases, go to and look at both the Miles and Mears collection. These are both maintained by dedicated people who cite respected sources. They are limited to families of the eastern shore of Virginia. The other list I listen on is for a surname, where some one not too long ago posted a huge dump of genealogical data in many separate messages. Interesting but ugly to deal with. Most people seemed to organize their genealogical interest not by what king or queen they might be related to centuries ago, but by a few surnames of more recent ancestors. My guess is that we would get the most participation from knowledgeable people by organizing separate wikis by surname, and let them grow together organically. A lot of the back and forth on the lists is about sources - sorting out discrepancies between them, where to find them, etc. A place in the wiki for multiple sources for each date & relationship, as well as discussions would be important. Although I'm not so concened about templates and format, I do think they are important. I'd be interested in the database schema underlying it all. Are there examples that are available publicly?Woodyk 22:22, 27 June 2008 (UTC)


It appears that the specific term "Global Family Tree" is already under copyrighted use here: Global Family Tree.