Help:Wiki University Guiding Principles

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Guiding Principles and Policies of FamilySearch Wiki

Why We Need Guiding Principles


Since the Wiki is open to anyone who wants to use it and edit it, it needs to be as universally useful as possible and needs to be free of offensive material. In addition, published standards are important so that contributors have guidelines for whether their material fits into the Wiki and how it should be formatted.

To accomplish this objective, a number of important reference materials have been developed. These are the Guiding Principles and Policies and the Manual of Style. As a Wiki Support Missionary, one of your primary responsibilities is to see that new contributions meet these guidelines. When you are working in the Wiki and want to confirm or research one of them, you can access them through your left side bar under Volunteer and Helper.

The Guiding Principles and Policies include the following topics which are covered to a limited extent in this tutorial. However, you are responsible to review and be very familiar with the source material.

What Are the Guiding Principles?

The guiding principles below are applicable not only to articles but to user pages as well.

The Wiki Is Free to All Users

  • There is no charge to anyone to research the Wiki.
  • Any content added to the Wiki must be in the public domain and may be used without restriction.
  • There may be links to sources and records that charge a fee, but they will be designated with a "$."

Sources and Delimiters

  • Articles should cite authoritative sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.
  • There should be no expansion of content beyond that which affects family history research or record keeping.
  • No source documents should be included except a few pages used as examples.
  • No information about specific ancestors should be included except as case studies.

Neutral Point of View

The Wiki must be unbiased and strictly factual--no discussions of religion, politics, ethnicity and culture. It is not a platform for advocacy or a place to express a personal point of view. The Wiki can link to sites where there is advocacy, but only when there is a genealogical reason to do so.


  • Sources should be recommended in the order that the user might want to use them, taking into consideration budgets, time constraints, and speed of response desired.
  • Advertising or links to non-genealogical commercial sites are not allowed.
  • Some exceptions for advertising and marketing are allowed for Professional Genealogists.

Etiquette Guidelines

  • Respect all contributors and be civil to each other, avoiding conflict.
  • Assume all contributors are genuine and are contributing in good faith until proven otherwise.
  • Attempt to reach consensus. Avoid edit wars (see the three revert rule).
  • Do not use profanity or profane slang in any form or language.

Be Bold with caution

  • If you see a need, fill it.
  • If you see an error, correct it.
  • Don't make a suggestion, make a change. (A few exceptions will be covered in the patrolling lessons.)
  • Don't let the possibility of disagreement stop you from making the changes, but don't close the door on honest disagreement.
  • Don't take edits or changes to your work as a personal affront.

Remember, what is changed can always be reversed.

Try these out


Quick Quiz
  • If you see something wrong, you need to ask permission of the author before correcting it.
  • Do not assume everyone who contributes to the Wiki is acting in good faith.
  • The Wiki allows advertisers to place ads.
  • We as contributors are allowed to state our point of view on religion.
  • The purpose of the Wiki is to teach people where the records they can use are located and how to access them.
  • We are free to be critical of any culture or individual in history.
  • A neutral point of view is for wimps.

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