Talk:Wikimedia genealogy project

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There's clearly support; how do we move forward?[edit]

The other pages show that there's clear support for such a project; we don't need another signup sheet here. What we need is a way to move forward. In particular, we need to discuss the following:

  1. Are we interested in making a new project, or adopting an already existing one?
  2. If we adopt an existing one, which one? Or do we try to merge a few?
  3. Should we gain broader input, by making a binding, Wikimedia-wide RFC?
  4. Do we need input from the WMF board?

As well as policy discussions, which may be moot if we adopt an existing project, but still worth discussing:

  1. Should we allow living people?
  2. Should sources be optional, encouraged, or required?
  3. Should any information be private (only viewable to relatives)?

If we make a new project:

  1. Who will create the necessary software?
  2. How long will it take to make the software?
  3. What functionality is necessary, preferable, optional, and unwanted?

These are some of the issues we need to discuss. -- Ypnypn (talk) 22:03, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

I have been editing Wikipedia for a number of years now and have also more recently become active in WeRelate, which is currently the largest wiki-based genealogy project. Even if we adopt an existing project I think the policies will need changing. In particular, I think the WeRelate policies are a bit light in a number of areas. My tupp'orth in answer to the questions above:

AndrewRT (talk) 23:24, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

(These questions, and AndrewRT's responses, have been separated into subsections below, for organizational purposes.) --Another Believer (talk) 23:50, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Are we interested in making a new project, or adopting an already existing one?[edit]

  • I would suggest a bit of both. There is significant support (although not unanimous) from the WeRelate community for becoming a Wikimedia project (see However, the site is still officially in "beta" and I'm not sure the site is actually fit for becoming a project just as it is. In particular, policies on inclusion, deletion, sourcing, copyright etc. would need considerable development and there is a large amount of "legacy" data that pre-dates a tightening of policies which might be worth leaving as it is. Some aspects - e.g. the use of google maps - aren't scalable. Some WeRelate community members might also prefer that we left the site at the very least to "parallel run" whilst the Wikimedia project is getting going. - AndrewRT (talk) 23:24, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

If we adopt an existing one, which one? Or do we try to merge a few?[edit]

  • WeRelate is the obvious one, being the largest wiki based genealogy site by far. Thinking broader, it may also be a good idea to team up with the people behind FreeUKGen, an excellent project publishing free-copyright primary source material which could work very well together with a wiki site for the family tree aspect. - AndrewRT (talk) 23:24, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
    • But WeRelate has only English version. While Rodovid is multi-language like Wikipedia. — Dionys (talk) 08:04, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
      • Yes, but Rodovid is much smaller and appears to be largely dormant. Ideally you would want to use the best of both. AndrewRT (talk) 23:37, 7 March 2014 (UTC)

Should we gain broader input, by making a binding, Wikimedia-wide RFC?[edit]

  • I don't see how any RFC could be "binding" in any sense. Personally I would like to develop a firmer proposal first and then to go to the community with some specific questions (e.g. on the core policies, e.g. sourcing, living people, copyright, links with Wikimedia Commons) - AndrewRT (talk) 23:24, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Do we need input from the WMF board?[edit]

  • Definitely. An early indication from them on support (or otherwise) in principle would be very useful. In particular, I think we should ask their counsel to look into the legal issues around privacy and whether the WeRelate approach to living people adequately addresses these legal issues. - AndrewRT (talk) 23:24, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Should we allow living people?[edit]

  • Personally I would go down the WeRelate route of saying no living people unless notable but this really needs a paid lawyer to consider this issue. - AndrewRT (talk) 23:24, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  • If living people don't mind, then we can add them. — Dionys (talk) 08:21, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
    • Agreed, but in my case that would only be of any value if my living father also consented. Getting evidence of consent could be very hard. AndrewRT (talk) 23:39, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
  • A correct policy to protect privacy is a "living families" policy. This policy excludes anyone who is a member of a living family (that is, a family group with a living member). In practice, this policy forbids inclusion until up to 120 years after birth, or up to 70 years after death, rarely longer. This policy is unpopular with genealogy sites, since it means that few people one personally knew appears on them. However I have used it on my sites for years. I use a notability exception that includes parents and grandparents of the notable. Ggpauly (talk) 14:57, 10 May 2014 (UTC)

Should sources be optional, encouraged, or required?[edit]

  • I'm inclining towards making it required on the basis that it's not hard to do and it makes a dramatic improvement to the quality of the data. As a half-way house you could say, for instance, that GEDCOMs uploaded must have sources against, say, 50% of individuals. You could also make it easier to add sources during the upload process. - AndrewRT (talk) 23:24, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Can the project really be trustworthy without sources? Don't we need the ability to review one anothers' work? --Another Believer (talk) 03:20, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • A non-indexed draft namespace (or something to that effect) may help in this regard. --Waldir (talk) 06:38, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Sources should of course be required. Beyond this question there are other considerations about sources. (1) Should every fact be sourced? Every individual? My preference is to be flexible as far as per-individual or per-fact. Sources often provide more than one fact about an individual and for most individuals there are few sources. Contentious or newly-discovered facts require specific sources. A dirty secret about genealogy on the web is that the primary fact for genealogy - relatedness (who begat whom) - is often neglected as a specific fact for source citation. (2) There is a cultural conflict between Wikipedia and genealogical sourcing practices. Wikipedia frowns on primary sources, whereas these are the "gold standard" for genealogy. Both cultures could learn from the other. In the case of genealogy, original research cannot be forbidden, and there is a wealth of misinformation in secondary and tertiary sources, so citing primary sources should be encouraged. Reliable secondary genealogical sources should be given more respect, otherwise every fact must be proven by every genealogist, an anti-scientific practice. (3) Original genealogical research may include logical calculations of arbitrary complexity. Time and location, religion, names, historical setting, occupations and other facts about individuals may be considered in these calculations. The citation infrastructure and requirements should allow and embrace a discussion of conclusions. Footnotes may be used. (4) Not every fact is equally well known. Particularly for relatedness: some relationships are well-documented and others are not. Some sort of probability indication for relatedness is needed to give a better idea of how certain a relationship is. Clearly the effect of uncertain relationships is cumulative, and this should not be an excuse to trail off into mythology. Ggpauly (talk) 15:46, 10 May 2014 (UTC)
  • Obviously sourcing is important when it comes to evaluating the accuracy of genealogical data. But my experience has been that the ability to share whatever data I've got, even if some of it might actually be wrong, is an essential part of the process of getting it improved and corrected. In my own genealogical research, for example, I spent literally decades going around in circles (and then putting it aside for years at a time out of frustration) because the birthplace we knew for my great-grandfather was based on a single immigration record and didn't seem to actually exist at all. It was only within the past two or three years that the incorrect information helped me locate another relative -- I already knew she existed, but didn't know how to contact her, or even that she was actively researching, until I came across her post to a genealogy forum -- who was also asking for help with the same incorrect information I was struggling with. She had additional documents that she didn't know what to do with, but I had research contacts who did -- and upon careful examination, those documents led me down a new research path which finally landed me the correct birthplace in three days flat. So if we hadn't started out by sharing bad data, we would never have found each other in the first place -- and so we'd still be struggling with the same bad data and would never have found what we were really looking for. So when it comes to genealogy, the key isn't to ban all unsourced or "this is how grandma remembers it" data outright, because even the wrong data is still a necessary and critical part of the process of getting to the right data instead. Rather, you need to allow it in a way that sandboxes it as a different class of data than the properly sourced and verified kind. Bearcat (talk) 20:48, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

Should any information be private (only viewable to relatives)?[edit]

  • There seems to be a lot of support for this among genealogists, but I think it goes against the idea of a publicly-available wiki. - AndrewRT (talk) 23:24, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
    Agreed. Does not really resonate with the mission of WMF. Also, that seems hard to regulate. --Another Believer (talk) 03:22, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
    Yes, there are plenty of solutions for private genealogy out there already. Restricted visibility and/or editing of data doesn't fit the spirit of a wiki. --Waldir (talk) 06:41, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Part of the point of genealogy is the ability to locate new relatives that you didn't already know about -- that's exactly how you expand your tree, get new research leads, find out that some of your existing information is wrong, and on and so forth. If every tree is entirely walled off so that only your immediate family can see it, then the opportunity for progress disappears. Data about living people should certainly have a privacy screen on it, but locking down dead people too would defeat the whole purpose of even bothering with such a project in the first place. Bearcat (talk) 21:16, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

If we make a new project, who will create the necessary software?[edit]

  • WeRelate seem to have done a good job on this and have publicly sourced the code so that seems the obvious starting point (although it needs a lot of work doing on it - again somewhere where WMF support would be needed) - AndrewRT (talk) 23:24, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
    • The WeRelate code is a heavily-modified MediaWiki 1.7.1 and is a reasonably tricky starting point for any new project. I had a crack at porting their code to a set of MediaWiki extensions (i.e. without modifying core) and the main thing that I came up against was that the whole data structure was probably not the optimum way to go: it's based on Gedcom and stores all information in XML embedded in wikitext pages. Any new project would probably benefit from starting with a fresh approach. Sam Wilson 01:42, 7 February 2017 (UTC)
  • Familypedia ditto. See Robin Patterson (talk) 12:47, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Another MediaWiki genealogy extension: by Peter Roberts. Sam Wilson 00:21, 28 February 2017 (UTC)

If we make a new project, how long will it take to make the software?[edit]

  • I'm no techie so I have no idea. - AndrewRT (talk) 23:24, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

If we make a new project, what functionality is necessary, preferable, optional, and unwanted?[edit]

  • GEDCOM are my #1 as they are key to being able to scale. - AndrewRT (talk) 23:24, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

What now?[edit]

Assuming that there is support for a genealogy project, what do we (as a community) need to do to make this happen? -- Ypnypn (talk) 22:39, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

I think the first thing would be to find a space on Wikimedia where we could create an incubator-like project, and import/modify some test pages from potential partner wikis. I don't think it should be too difficult to start a beta (or rather, an alpha!) at or something.--Pharos (talk) 22:48, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
I do not believe there is a process to create beta projects like that. Let's make SPCom into a real thing... PiRSquared17 (talk) 22:53, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
We make the road by walking. Given that past proposals show a wide consensus for the idea of a genealogy wiki, while uncertainties remain on implementation and particular partnerships, I think the best thing is to start an incubator-like project not prejudiced to any particular implementation, and let that emerging community make its own choices, and evolve to the point where it can reach the Wikimedia-wide RFC stage for an "official" project.--Pharos (talk) 23:31, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
@Pharos: How should we start such a project? Should someone register, or should we ask WM to let us use -- Ypnypn (talk) 21:40, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

Who needs to be brought into this conversation so that this discussion does not become stagnant? --Another Believer (talk) 14:46, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

@Another Believer: I think an official RFC is in order now. It can be advertised on the Main Page, the Forum, the The Signpost, etc. And then, I guess, we will see if the WMF will approve this. --Jakob (talk) 17:43, 2 May 2014 (UTC)
Jakob, there is already an RfC on the Main Page. :) --Another Believer (talk) 19:14, 2 May 2014 (UTC)
@Jakec: What, exactly, should we ask in the RFC? -- Ypnypn (talk) 17:56, 2 May 2014 (UTC)
@Ypnypn: Whether or not to launch a genealogy project under the Wikimedia umbrella. --Jakob (talk) 19:11, 2 May 2014 (UTC)
@Jakec:} To launch a new one, or to adopt an existing one? Or should the RFC mention both possibilities? (I, for one, am quite hesitant about creating yet another geni-site.) Ypnypn (talk) 21:03, 2 May 2014 (UTC)
@Ypnypn: Both options can be mentioned. --Jakob (talk) 03:06, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

Requesting more comments[edit]

I sent talk page invitations, encouraging people to visit this page, to all contributors who made edits to the existing genealogy proposals (or associated talk pages). What other avenues are there for inviting discussion and participation? --Another Believer (talk) 23:16, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Add to Template:Main_Page/WM_News, Wikimedia Forum, enwiki Village Pump, maybe others... isn't this enough? PiRSquared17 (talk) 23:24, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Well, my attempt to understand how to add Template:Announce proposal to Template:Main_Page/WM_News was unsuccessful. Does someone know how to do this? --Another Believer (talk) 21:23, 6 March 2014 (UTC)
Update: I attempted to add this discussion to the main page bulletin. I hope this was done correctly. Please correct if not. --Another Believer (talk) 19:43, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
It looks good to me. -- Ypnypn (talk) 19:59, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
OK, great. Thanks! --Another Believer (talk) 20:07, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
--Another Believer (talk) 20:45, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
Thank you! --Another Believer (talk) 16:38, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

Is anyone active at one of the existing genealogy projects mentioned above and would be willing to direct traffic here for continued discussion? --Another Believer (talk) 19:41, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

The discussion on WeRelate is here, and more extensively here: . The latter pages seems on balance to be more positive than negative about becoming a WMF project, in my reading. I've added a note about this page. — Sam Wilson ( TalkContribs ) … 00:13, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
Side note: You can link to pages on WeRelate using standard link syntax: WeRelate:WeRelate talk:Next Steps. -- Ypnypn (talk) 02:40, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

I also posted an FYI/invitation over at Wikidata. --Another Believer (talk) 19:51, 2 July 2014 (UTC)

I also posted a suggestion for inclusion in The Signpost, and invited members of (ENWP) WikiProject Genealogy to contribute to the discussion. Feel free to post similar invitations for genealogy projects at Wikipedias for other languages. --Another Believer (talk) 20:53, 2 July 2014 (UTC)


Doesn't Wikidata provide genealogy tools? --NaBUru38 (talk) 23:23, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Talk:WeRelate#Wikidata. PiRSquared17 (talk) 23:24, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

No living people?[edit]

Why would we exclude living people, provided a publicly-available source can be found? --Jakob (talk) 23:34, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Because there are still privacy issues. If a local newspaper once published my date-of-birth without my permission, Wikimedia shouldn't post this permanently on one of the most visited sites on the Internet. -- Ypnypn (talk) 00:25, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
What is the reason we choose not to apply the same privacy standard to biographies at Wikipedia? Those articles are created from the same newspapers. --Another Believer (talk) 01:26, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
On the English Wikipedia, bios are not allowed for people notable for just one event, especially for low-profile individuals. See also WP:BLPNAME. (I'm not actually completely opposed to having living people on a geni-site, but it has to be very well thought-out.) -- Ypnypn (talk) 02:30, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
I see. Thanks for further explaining. --Another Believer (talk) 03:01, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Whatever is done, it must comply with wmf:BLP. So unsourced BLP info must be removed. Whether BLPs should be allowed at all is a separate but related issue, so I am posting below. PiRSquared17 (talk) 03:14, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
And even for notable people, we would only publish their own bio, without referencing other members of their family (except if they are notable by themselves). So this excludes children, parents, spouse/partner(s)... Except if these other persons participate directly in a public event or a public artwork creation or public show in their own names: we will still need to sualify the notability of these other persons for something else than a single low profile event (remember that these people also have a right to be forgotten, we should not promote them more and for longer time than what these persons initially intended in a limited participation with some limited public exposure (e.g. when participating in a collective event with many other people that are not more or lss notable than these "personnalities" for the same kind of participation).
Genealogy causes severe problems due to its nature of creating giant files about lots of people. Such databases are normally not given free access even where they exist. Wikimedia projects do not need to have a database containing personal bios of its own millions contributors with all members of their family ! And Wikimedia admins won't be able to handle millions of requests for removal via its OTRS system (we can't have tens of thousands OTRS admins without breaking completely the OTRS system itself for handling other issues such as copyvios.
Wikimedia projects in fact don't need this data because it has no educative value in any other context, it is not reusable, generally not free, and not modifiable. Supporting this project could cause severe and very costly troubles to the Foundation... Its too risky IMHO (and that's also why projects developing genealogy databases do it in closed project : they can control the access, avoid abuses and unwanted publications).
In fact I'd like to read some statement from the Legal and Community Advocacy department, but I'm confident that they will feel, with their lawyers, that this is too risky to be viable on Wikimedia as an open content project without risking long term sustainability of all other projects. verdy_p (talk) 21:18, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I would support this restriction: no living people unless they are famous enough to have their own article in Wikipedia. That should clear all potential concerns about privacy issues. Yann (talk) 12:01, 16 March 2014 (UTC)
many people would not mind though, for example personally it would be pretty interesting to be contacted by new distant relatives. It would have to be strictly opt-in though. Perhaps anyone who wants to, could be able to create a profile for themselves which could link to their Dispora/Facebook/LinkedIn/whatever pages, and link the historical tree into the modern world? It would need to be thought through how that would work though, how to authenticate users (maybe via their accounts on those other sites?) and then how to verify (via sources) that the family links they claim are also correct. Also apart from Diaposra those services are commerical and I'm not sure how that would link into WikiMedia's open source goodness? What's would be even more interesting would be finding living distant relatives in other countries and cultures, someone said this project isn't education but if I, say found some new family in India or whatever I could get in touch, talk to them, maybe even visit, and learn a whole load about another culture and contribute a little bit to world peace. If the whole world started doing that then it could have a serious impact on international relations!
I think it is important to focus on a simple target in the early steps, therefore I support the restriction to dead people if there are specific legal problems. We can always discuss further improvements/exceptions later, but let's keep it simple at the beginning (as long as we have open minds).--Alexmar983 (talk) 18:49, 11 December 2014 (UTC)


Has there ever been any discussion about the use of Wikiversity for genealogical research? Original research is permitted there, and of course one could use all the normal tools for citations, templates, etc. I would imagine that the activity of compiling a family history would be fine there, as it is certainly a learning project (which is what Wikiversity is all about)... but perhaps the final product wouldn't be so welcome there? I'm not really sure. (I might have a crack at doing something, though, and see how it pans out!) — Sam Wilson ( TalkContribs ) … 09:06, 10 April 2014 (UTC)

PS. There is a biographies page, with a small amount of content. — Sam Wilson ( TalkContribs ) … 09:09, 10 April 2014 (UTC)

FYI: Announces Retirement of Several Websites[edit] (via ) --Nemo 19:12, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

review of WikiTrees[edit]

Here's a review of WikiTree by a knowledgeable user: WikiTree -- Kosboot (talk) 17:34, 4 July 2014 (UTC)

A suggestion for a different kind of site[edit]

I was stuck in a traffic jam today, and started thinking, what would I personally like to see in a Wikimedia genealogy project? (Long)

It's the data, not the wiki[edit]

As noted above, there are a number of existing sites using something like the MediaWiki software. They're all a bit the same, and they're all a bit unimpressive.

To me, the thing with far more exciting possibilities that WikiMedia is developing at the moment is WikiData, and the radical new technologies it opens up. So rather than thinking about how we might make Yet Another MediaWiki-like Genealogy Site (YAMGS), I'm more interested in what we could do if we had our own WikiBase database engine, also drawing on the main WikiData store.

What I would like to see is a really flexible genealogical data hosting system, using the same P-numbers as WikiData for properties, so the it would be trivial to adjust any gadgets developed to draw from one WikiBase to draw instead on data from the other, or to draw on data from both. Rather than one fixed way to view a "page", I would hope that there would be lots of different "views", widely customisable, so that even for things like presenting a table of Census data, there should be lots of ways to do it, and if one didn't like any of them, one should be able to create ones own, still accessing the same back-end WikiBase database. And rather than only being able to see the data only on a wiki, I'd like the system to be able to export views that could then be placed anywhere on one's own website. This is technology essentially already here (and when it isn't Magnus will have invented it in another half a second), for presenting data from WikiData almost however one would want, and re-mashing it into whatever context on whatever website one wants. It's a complete game-changer.

So I think the data is far more interesting than the wiki.

Private trees, plus a central public tree[edit]

Many views. As an example of this, I'd like each user to be able to present their own tree in their own way, so they can author their own view of their family's history. But it should also be easy to share.

Pulling everything from a database makes all this possible. In the same way that (say) an infobox can pull from WikiData, but locally over-ride or modify particular values, I would see each user's tree being able to pull from a central store, which would be worked on collaboratively. Much of the content in a user's individual tree would normally fall through straight to the content in the central public tree. However, the user would also be able to specify their personal assessment of items, so if for example they thought a particular John Heald wedding related to a different John Heald birth than the assessment of the rest of the crowd, they could specify that difference, so printing out "their" tree, it would connect the way they thought it should. One might imagine tools to analyse diffs between the private and the public trees, or a "flagged revisions" view - these changes have been made in the central public tree, do you accept them, or do you want to keep your personal version as it was for the moment, or indeed perhaps for ever. Similarly they could pull information to their private tree, or push information to the central tree, committing changesets. The private tree would be theirs to have full control over, to define its extent, and control its visibility, as they saw fit (including different visibilities for different parts of their private tree, or perhaps being able to grant others time-limited tickets).

The system could even simply be used just to host a private tree. And some might do this. But I think there would be a big incentive to also share, to pool resources, to try to reconcile variants, to build a common resource base. So while the system would allow people to keep private family things private -- eg sensitive stories, photographs, memories -- I think people would also come together to build central resources, including the central tree, which all could then build on. And it should also be easy to draw on Wikimedia's own central resources. So if an individual has an entry on WikiData, information should be drawn from there rather than the dedicated Genealogy project MediaBase. Similarly, everywhere should be able to draw fully on WikiData gadgets, or the central WMF historical mapping server, or images from Commons (though one could police CC-SA images not to be usable if the private trees weren't published "share alike"). Integration with Wikidata are the rest could enable us to do amazing things.

Knowledge for the world and private vanity projects -> a different kind of entity[edit]

Clearly, this wouldn't be your typical WMF wiki. It would be hard to ask resources to be diverted from supporting education in Africa to supporting a private vanity hosting service, albeit feeding a very worthwhile public core.

So a different structural model is probably appropriate. Instead, the picture above suggests to me some kind of arms-length entity, with people using the system as a platform to publish their personal tree perhaps being asked to pay a modest hosting fee, or have their private-tree viewers suffer mild advertisements. It wouldn't, I hope, be an all-out for-profit site like Wikia; but I could see instead a community-owned not-for-profit site paying an appropriate facilities rent each year to WMF, and so charging just enough for hosting private trees to raise that.

There's another reason a separate entity might make sense, and that's legal. There's big money in genealogical resources. If we do start creating a professional-quality resource compilations of transcripts or original materials in our database to source-link against, they may not be too happy. Especially if, say, our database would be automatically uncovering and reporting the variations of perhaps four different identifiable transcriptions of a 19th-century UK census, which our database would in effect have reassembled, and would be offering to the world. Sometimes it might be better to have smaller pockets.

Choosing our early adopters: a hole in the market?[edit]

Perhaps I should confess. I am actually a One-Namer, with a rather creaky old website, rather than mostly focussing on tree-like views and person and family pages as one would with a more conventional family history keeper program (though I have done a little of that), or an internet One Big Tree (to rule them all). So what I am describing above may sound suspiciously close to my own fantasy genealogical database server service, that would hold everything in a nice big specialist WikiData-like mediabase service, maintained by somebody else, with full datum-by-datum tracking of variants, reliability and sources; and the possibility of ever more new amazing scripts and ways to analyse my data every week, the spectacular creations of a whole community collaborating, rather than my own ancient flat files and endless horrible perl scripts.

But actually, I think the One Namers would be an interesting community to target (in addition of course to the usual well-known linked-record views), because there really isn't anything out there that serves them very well, which is why we have so many of us rolled our own pet creaky handmade personal systems, none of which is in any way standardised or could really inter-operate with anybody else's. It's a shame, because it makes it very difficult to secure the legacy of such a project. So I suspect there might be considerable interest in a common database server, so long as of course at the end of the day they'd all have to be able to engineer their own individual completely idiosyncratic personal views from that common database; but then see above as proposed. Plus of course One Name projects tend to gather (almost as their essential purpose) industrial quantities of highly structured data; and may be have built up quite an aptitude for scripting and databases. So they (we) might be quite an interesting consituency to talk to and accommodate.

A different kind of site?[edit]

I suspect the picture I've been trying to draw above is of rather a different thing than most !voters may have had in mind in the RfC. Nevertheless, I'd be interested to hear your serious considerations -- to build something new and radical, utterly embedded in WMF's key technology for the next decade: more than just what we have known and loved for the last decade.

All best, Jheald (talk) 00:07, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

  • Addition: For the technical credibility (or not) of what I've posted above, I opened a thread at Wikidata (now archived)
Wikidata:Wikidata:Project chat/Archive/2014/08#Wikibase_question:_database_branching_.3F -- Jheald (talk) 10:17, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Addition 2: It strikes me that a number of the existing MediaWiki based genealogy projects (eg all the ones listed on the content page) might be interested in such a project (would GenieData be a good name? Or GeniData?) as a wikibase database back-end for some of their data, in the same way that Wikipedias are going to derive from WikiData. Perhaps they could even support the technical work that is going to be needed to extend WikiBase to make it possible, especially the key new requirement of allowing data version branching? Jheald (talk) 11:19, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
  • More thoughts:
    • One possible structure would be for GeniData, if we call it that, to be a formal not-for-profit collaboration between Wikimedia, various existing Wiki-based genealogy sites, and an umbrella group for single-namers (eg GOONS, if GOONS are interested; or failing that some organisation created for the purpose). This structure would avoid GeniData having to manage end-user affiliations etc. Each main wiki would be treated as a separate user, free to manage its own branch of diffs from the central tree, as would each one name project.
    • The wikibase would tightly integrated with Wikidata, sharing some namespaces, and managed by Wikimedia in return for a management fee, to cover service, maintenance, operations, software development etc
    • Four namespaces might be appropriate for the wikibase: P for properties, as per Wikidata, but with a distinct numerical range reserved for properties specific to the genealogy project; Q for items also occurring on Wikidata; R for records, which may often have a natural list format; S for information on subjects of the genealogy -- eg individuals and families.
    • Inevitably people will post material taken from commercially transcribed records. Whilst this may be copyright clear, per Feist, for full clarity it might be attractive to offer a deal to each of the major image/transcription licensees, that would release to CC0 any uploaded transcript from a single family, or single name, or single place study (perhaps), in return for automatic link-backs to their pay-walled images (which of course users would need a subscription to view) -- similar to the kind of link agreements the LDS Familysearch site has. In this way the collaboration would be a net traffic generator for the sites, more than enough to compensate for the slow leakage into the wild of their transcriptions.
    • Especially for the one-namers not affiliated through one of the wikis, middleware would be needed to support GEDCOM upload/download; reports in XML, JSON and HTML; and a batch access APIs. A category system should also exist to group particular groups of records, eg particular uploads, families, intended downloads, or any other particular sets etc. Deep integration with software like Custodian and Clooz should be possible through the batch API.
    • So, a new org to run it; and a wikibase, not a wiki. But a proposal that I think might be the best way to build bridges between the different genealogical wikis, while letting them all continue to feel independent and distinctive. Jheald (talk) 22:24, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Activity trackers and the quantified self[edit]

Genealogies have commercial value in medical research, even if they seem to contain very little health information.

If there is any wiki-geneaology, then it could be the case that it is also connected with some health information. Information like life span, places lived, and cause of death might be expected to be included along with the valuable data about family relationships. It could be the case that some people go further and add even more personal information, as is done with en:23andMe and en:PatientsLikeMe. I know that traditional genealogies are not health research records, but the two concepts mesh in so many ways that if they are not combined here, then they would be combined elsewhere.

I have heard en:Philip Bourne at the United States en:National Institutes of Health talk about a project called "A million patients for health", in which a million people make a health questionnaire and a health record about themselves publicly available. This would be very invasive of contemporary concepts of privacy, but these records will likely be available in some form some day even if it is only of deceased people. Medical research is greatly stifled by not having access to some really basic information about people's health and their relationships with others.

Lately I have been thinking more of genealogies and health information. I wrote a bit on my personal blog about these things.

I thought I would share here on Wikipedia, because if there ever is a genealogy project here, I will not be the only one who imagines connecting it to medical records. The value to individual families is great and persuasive, but also, the value to research and potential for commercial exploitation is immense also. Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:00, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Strong support[edit]

With over 50 users supporting this project, what is the next step to realize the plans? Dan Koehl (talk) 08:40, 28 November 2014 (UTC)

Involvement from existing genealogy communities. Continued, detailed discussion about the information that would live on the wiki and its infrastructure. A designated space to design a mockup. Where the latter would take place, I am not sure. Does anyone know who to approach? -Another Believer (talk) 21:58, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
I replied below. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:35, 10 December 2014 (UTC)

Potential partners[edit]

Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:35, 10 December 2014 (UTC)

Jimmy Wales[edit]

Just thought I would share his comment: -Another Believer (talk) 15:38, 10 December 2014 (UTC)

I agree with him but I also think that if you play it smart, a new project can be succesful. I wrote something similar on months ago, IMHO the core target is to create an ifrastructure that shows clear synergy with the existing projects. If you keep it like a wikidata-like project, focusing in providing at least a clear support for existing articles at least in its early years of development, I see no reason why it should fail. I could be slower to warm up than expected, but it shouldn't fail.
If now we have a simple code to unify interlinks, in the future we will have a simple code to reproduce/access the genalogy of a biography article without local templates and so on, for example. Considering that these articles are frequent, that seems to me as useful as wikispecies. Maybe not as useful as a unified project for sources code and bibliography, for example, yet still gobally time-saving. It is still worth the time you will spend to set it up.--Alexmar983 (talk) 18:28, 11 December 2014 (UTC)


In February this discussion will pass a one-year mark, and so far more than 100 distinct authors have contributed to the page. I am glad to see the conversation continue. Over the past two days, I pinged the Top 100 most active contributors and invited them to contribute to this discussion. I wonder if it might also bring attention to this debate if there were a writeup re: a potential WMF genealogy for The Signpost. Perhaps someone arguing in support of the project and other in opposition? Just a thought. Other ideas, or volunteers? -Another Believer (talk) 17:53, 10 December 2014 (UTC)

When the The Signpost does WikiProject reviews, they ask any WikiProject members to respond to a set of questions. If here someone posted 3-4 questions and asked for responses, then that might summarize the discussion well enough to be a Signpost article. For my own part, I would volunteer to give a medical research perspective if other people gave other perspectives. A perspective on implementation and another one on family use might be expected. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:15, 11 December 2014 (UTC)

Positive notes and marketing[edit]

I just read a few lines on Wikispecies, which I was thinking could easily apply on this project:

What will Wikispecies become eventually? As said before, this will widely depend on the users of this resource and on the will to share knowledge. Right now, there is an enormous pool of information online, which can be found on a variety of websites. One of these is, which is something like an official resource. Another very good source is Most other sources are protected by copyrights, often not very user-friendly, or limited to a select group of species. This is very similar to the situation on general encyclopedias before 2001. Then, Wikipedia was released and became an instant success. Wikipedia has proved that the concept of self-administered information can work excellently. There is no reason to believe that Wikispecies should not become a valuable source of information.

I believe those lines could be equally used for this project, just switching the word Wikispecies and some names of websites.?

Dan Koehl (talk) 23:59, 12 December 2014 (UTC)

I think we are at a point where we have confirmed interest in a genealogy project, but also collected many concerns, some of which are easier to address than others. The primary question is really, "where do we go from here"? How can we get other genealogy communities to collaborate? Where can we stage and experiment with possible project entries? Where we can discuss in detail concerns re: BLP, living vs. dead, original research, software, etc.? I am not sure how other Wikimedia projects have entered larger community discussions or where they were tested in an incubator setting. Here?: -Another Believer (talk) 00:56, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
I just stumbled upon New project process. -Another Believer (talk) 22:10, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
It sure looks like the proper place to take the second step! Dan Koehl (talk) 22:55, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
Note that page is still a draft, so it's not a real policy or guideline. -- Ypnypn (talk) 23:27, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
I have a question: do we have on the wikimedia community the same incubation procedure for "language" projects and "coordination-multicultural" project? --Alexmar983 (talk) 15:55, 16 February 2015 (UTC)

Development on Wikidata[edit]

Wikidata is for entries which meet notability criteria, so most people cannot have their biographical information there, but there is still software development to track the genealogy of royalty, for example.

On Histropedia there is a tutorial on how to make a decendants timeline in Wikidata. Anyone interested in seeing how a genealogy in a Wikimedia project might look should check this out. Blue Rasberry (talk) 21:17, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

Template:New sister project proposal[edit]

It might be worth considering this template and/or Proposals for new projects. What do page watchers think, and are there any who would be interested in working on a draft? -Another Believer (talk) 03:04, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

Minimally functioning MediaWiki extension[edit]

I've been playing with some tiny ideas about what a MediaWiki genealogy extension could look like. See mw:Extension:Genealogy. Be warned: it doesn't do much yet! :-) Sam Wilson 05:09, 25 November 2016 (UTC)

Exciting! I tried to download the files and so on, but the documentation was not so easy to understand, and I couldn't perform everything in order to download/upload/create extensions etc. Dan Koehl (talk) 08:27, 25 November 2016 (UTC)
@Dan Koehl: Hm, sorry to hear it! :-( What was confusing? Did you get any particular errors? You should be able to download and install like all other extensions. Was the template set-up too complicated? (Sorry for the slow reply, by the way; the {{ping}} template is useful on Meta!) Sam Wilson 07:33, 5 December 2016 (UTC)

WikiProject Genealogy - newsletter No.1[edit]

The newsletter below may be of interest to users fallowing this talk page:

Newsletter Nr 1 for WikiProject Genealogy (and Wikimedia genealogy project on Meta)
Stamboom png.svg


This is the very first newsletter sent by mass mail to members in Wikipedia:WikiProject Genealogy, to everyone who voted a support for establishing a potential Wikimedia genealogy project on meta, and anyone who during the years showed an interest in genealogy on talk pages and likewise.

(To discontinue receiving Project Genealogy newsletters, see below)

Progress report:

Since the Projects very first edit 9 december 2002 by User:Dan Koehl, which eventually became the WikiProject Genealogy, different templates were developed, and the portal en:Portal:Genealogy was founded by User:Michael A. White in 2008. Over the years a number of articles has been written, with more or less association to genealogy. And, very exciting, there is a proposal made on Meta by User:Another Believer to found a new Wikimedia Genealogy Project, read more at Meta; Wikimedia genealogy project where you also can support the creation with your vote, in case you havnt done so already.


The future of the Genealogy project on the English Wikipedia, and a potential creation of a new Wikimedia Genealogy Project, is something where you can make a an input.

You can

Cheers from your WikiProject Genealogy founder and coordinator user:Dan Koehl

To discontinue receiving Project Genealogy newsletters, please remove your name from our mailing list.
Newsletter delivered by MediaWiki message delivery Dan Koehl (talk) 22:28, 6 February 2017 (UTC)

Dan Koehl (talk) 01:16, 7 February 2017 (UTC)

Thank you for creating and distributing this newsletter, and for pushing the genealogy conversation forward, User:Dan Koehl.. -Another Believer (talk) 02:14, 7 February 2017 (UTC)
Yes, hear hear. Good to see this progressing. Maybe we should look at setting up a demo genealogy wiki somewhere? Sam Wilson 03:16, 7 February 2017 (UTC)
Yes, why not? In that case we could alreadybegin working a little bit with the layout, will make us better prepared? Dan Koehl (talk) 03:28, 7 February 2017 (UTC)

Wikimedia user group[edit]

A couple editors have expressed interest in creating a Wikimedia user group related to genealogy. This group could push forward the conversation about the Wikimedia Foundation hosting a genealogy sister project, maintain WikiProject Genealogy (English Wikipedia), and support other genealogy-related Wikimedia efforts. As a reminder, here at the eligibility requirements for becoming a user group. Are there editors who would be interested in joining/supporting this group's efforts? To comply with eligibility requirements, we need a group of active editors (preferably 10+), a wiki page where we outline our goals and scope, and a user name, before applying for user group status. I invite interested editors to share their thoughts below. -Another Believer (talk) 01:42, 10 February 2017 (UTC)

Interested Participants[edit]


What might the user group be called? Here are some ideas:

  • Wikimedia Genealogy User Group
    • Support Support (also support WikiProject Genealogy User Group) -Another Believer (talk) 00:01, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
    • Support Support This is nice and clear, even to people outside the movement probably. Sam Wilson 06:01, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
  • WikiProject Genealogy User Group
    • Support Support Initially, WikiProject Genealogy User Group can be an umbrella project for the coordination of different language projects, and the creation of Wikimedia Genealogy User Group. Dan Koehl (talk) 10:09, 10 February 2017 (UTC)
    • Support Support (also support Wikimedia Genealogy User Group) -Another Believer (talk) 00:01, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
  • Genealogy Community User Group
  • One of: GlobalFamilyTree, Rodovid, WeRelate, Wikimorial, Wikipeople, WikiTree, FamilyWiki, GeneaWiki, Wikicestry, WikiGenea, Wikigenes, Wikiplanet, or Wikitree — followed by "User Group" (list taken from the project page)
    • Oppose Oppose None of these names are related to the Wikimedia community/movement. -Another Believer (talk) 00:01, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
      • I agree, but the general idea of the user group name matching the name of the proposed project could have merit I think — if we could but think of a good name for the project! :-) Then it would follow the form of e.g. Wikisource Community User Group etc. and it'd be clearer that it's aiming to set up a project. So something like Wikibio Community User Group etc. Sam Wilson 06:01, 12 February 2017 (UTC)

Other ideas? -Another Believer (talk) 01:42, 10 February 2017 (UTC)

Goals and Scope[edit]

Thoughts? -Another Believer (talk) 01:42, 10 February 2017 (UTC)

  • To settle on a name
  • To document the workings of genealogical matters across the Wikimedia projects
  • To support the use of MediaWiki as a platform for genealogical research and publication
  • To aim at setting up a project wiki

Propose new project or support adoption?[edit]

On the page Proposals for new projects a proposal for a new project can be done. I was thinking that this is the right place to make a suggestion, so it makes its way to open proposals and new projects.

Further down on that page, there is a section with suggestions reg adoption of existing projects at Proposed project adoption, of which some are genealogy projects. Would it make sense to support such an adoption of an existing project, or do we wish to create our own? Dan Koehl (talk) 13:16, 12 February 2017 (UTC)

Three of the genealogy proposals are listed there for adoption: WeRelate, Rodovid, and WikiTree. I think the WikiTree proposal can be closed because that project appears to be a closed-source commercial service now. And of the other two, I'd say adopting either could make sense. I'd lean in favour of working with WeRelate, but that's probably because I've got most experience with that project and software. Either way, I think there's lots to be gained from sticking with an existing proposal (unless a new proposal is going to be significantly different). Sam Wilson 00:13, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
You have a good point there, Sam, and that means the project would begin with a site already having content, which would mean a lot in regard to get users to the site, rather than starting from scratch. Dan Koehl (talk) 00:17, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
@Dan Koehl: The approach I was working on for WeRelate was to create a set of MediaWiki extensions that replicate the current site's operation, as well as a system for synchronising the data from the current site, so that independent genealogy wikis could be set up and kept up to date. This would mean that the transition to more modern software could be done gradually, and also that long-term there would be one central wiki for all the public data and many other wikis for private data. The main problems I found were related to the ways in which werelate does a bunch of things (such as citations) differently, and imposes much more structure on an editor than base-MediaWiki does, and so there were various conflicts... I'm sure it could be figured out though! —Sam Wilson 04:14, 14 February 2017 (UTC)