Is this actually a commercial site now? Owned by Interesting.com, Inc.? The terms of service certainly don't sound like a community-driven place. @WikiTree: are you around? Could you weigh in on this (and the Wikimedia genealogy project in general)? There may, of course, be no connection between this proposal and the current wikitree.com website... it's been a while.
This project seems dead, and potentially commercialised on its "test wiki" so may have moved on without Wikimedia, which would be a shame, despite the opposition I think it would have been a good addition.
We have the family tree of species being added on wikispecies, why not the family tree of humans?
Already existing services
Immediate reactions are of course, there's already Ancestry.com, 23 and me, and other family tree projects out there. It'd be incredibly difficult to compete with Ancestry.com, and we're not here to compete, Wikimedia is best placed filling gaps that aren't there.
But Ancestry.com doesn't do what this proposes. Ancestry isn't a singular tree, it allows you to manage your own tree. This projects wants everyone on the wiki to work on one tree.
There are plenty of issues around a private tree that others just don't have to deal with.
You'd have to have rules around who can be added. No living people for starters (potential to allow people to choose to be involved, but you don't want to get into an issue if someone wishes to revoke that, so I think safer just to leave out the living). Plus no recently deceased. To co-opt the rule my local NZ government uses to publicly release data and say only allow someone to be added if they died at least 50 years ago. Could be adjusted based on whatever the foundation finds appropriate.
We must restrict information that is invasive, even of the long deceased. There's plenty of information about people that's not protected by various privacy or copyright laws around the world. The existence of Ancestry's 10+Billion records is evidence of this.
It's the nature of genealogy that not all information added is verifiable, but, is still notable. Wikitree would have to make the difference obvious. Adding key information like names, dates, relationships is top tier information that you want to have evidence backing. But "personal stories", your grandmother telling you a story about her own grandmother that would otherwise be lost to time stuck in your own private Ancestry account that no one else will ever get access to. We'd still want that sort of thing to be recordable, but highlighted as something that just can't be verified.
How is making this a wiki better than just your standard family tree software? There's a risk with trees on a service like Ancestry. They just get lost to time. Eventually, some genealogy enthusiasts niece or nephew will pick it up after they're gone and start again, trying to rebuild what their aunt/uncle built. Then the same will happen when they're old and their own kids aren't interested.
On wikitree, everyone is working on one tree. The more recent you get, the less chance there will be anyone else working on records, this is the same as any other wiki as you get into more niche content. As you go further back in time, your tree inevitably overlaps with those of other genealogists. At that point, people will then be working together as they build further back, slowly connecting to other groups of genealogists.
As with all wikis, inevitably people will disagree. Recordkeeping in centuries past was poor at best and different sources disagree. Generally genealogists keep finding new sources until they can built a consensus. Just as with any wiki, multiple people working on the same records must discuss and agree how to resolve these issues.
As discussed before, there will inevitably be points where your tree meets another tree and they connect. But it is more likely that duplicate records will appear first before realising the trees connect. Wikitree must have a solid process of attempting to identify duplicate records and a good "merge" system. If an ancestor is merged with one from another tree, it'll have to initiate a conflict resolution process. Comparing data from both trees, including any other duplicate relatives, and have the merger resolve these in the process.
It'd be a massive project that would be helped by being associated with the wikimedia foundation. And I think how you focus the scope is what will help ensure information collected is done so safely, legally, and morally. All in all, I think it'd be a valuable addition. Supertrinko (talk) 02:07, 4 September 2020 (UTC)