FamilySearch Wiki talk:Purpose and Appropriate Topics

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Meeting Families

  • A place to post (or find) information about a specific ancestor.
  • A place to post data sets and genealogical records, such as obituaries, military histories, or transcriptions of record sources.

I disagree slightly with the above. This seems to contradict another stated goal of meeting others working on the same histories. I agree that this wiki should not become 'The Earl's grandfather web page'.

I think it is a very fine line to draw between the amount of information needed to meet on a given line, and specific information on an ancestor. In order to meet others, I might have to post a specific document showing the person I am interested in, or a lengthy history to narrow the search to a specific person or family without confusion to other parts or places in the line.

Specifically, in my family, there is some disagreement on where one of my ancestors came from. He has the same name as a few generations after him, so in order to meet others interested in the same line / story, I would have to post a short history AND a fair amount of information about his family. Since I don't have specific information as to what I am looking for, just a hypothesis, I don't think I could point someone in the right direction without that level of detail.

I WOULD like to see this become a meeting ground AND a place to flesh out lines.

Thanks The Earl 09:13, 10 March 2008 (MDT)

The collaboration role is a New FamilySearch function

The need you're describing, Earl, is exactly what you can do on New FamilySearch. You can post what you know about an ancestor, find out who else is researching him, and collaborate with them. Ritcheymt 22:48, 2 April 2008 (MDT)

The role of links to outside materials

Links to outside Web sites can be beneficial.   This reduces the content on the wiki, plus it keeps the focus tighter.  For example, the question posted here about "long lists of Web sites" could be answered by saying we want a structure that leads a researcher to find the sites that will be most useful, regardless of the geographical records domain.  To this end, I recommend the Family History Library Favorites list as an excellent source that should be made available to researchers worldwide via the wiki.  Although it contains over 12,000 links, the space consumed on the wiki would be minimal compared to the good it could do. Perryde

How do you suggest that the Family History Library favorites be made available via the wiki? I don't consider a list of 12,000 links either focused or in keeping with what I see on FamilySearch wiki or anything I've seen on wikipedia. Do you have any suggestions for how links should be presented in the wiki?

It seems to me that links within the context of a "how to" article is most helpful. Daudwp 18:08, 2 April 2008 (MDT)

The space that the links would consume is not at issue. These are some of the issues people have with the FHL favorites list:

  1. The usefulness of a 12,000-link list to the average user. Most of these links would be much more helpful in context -- embedded in articles that treat the subjects each link is about.
  2. The man-hours it takes employees to maintain the list. (Really, the impossibility of the employees maintaining it.)
  3. The lack of annotations. An unannotated list of links is of questionable value, because most links aren't descriptive. The user browsing the list is forced to click on most links just to see what they lead to.
  4. The fact that the list is now monstrous. There seems to be a dearth of guidelines or best practices as to when to include a link and when to exclude one.
  5. The lack of logic behind the argument of some that the favorites file should continue to be maintained and updated by employees at the FHL because patrons like to have a file they can add to their own list of favorites. That makes no sense since a wiki community can update the links faster and since adding the best of these links to the wiki meets the same needs as the provision of a downloadable file. It's silly spending employee slots on a job the community can do themselves when we could be using employees to do what only they can do.

I built the first several iterations of the desktop the FHL uses today and I first added the FHL favorites to it for patron download, so obviously I think the favorites are useful. But it's time to change the format in which we compile them, let the community edit them, require annotations helpful to users, vet some policies on what to exclude and how to keep the list a sane, useful size, and free up our employees for more strategic work that only they can do. Ritcheymt 00:06, 3 April 2008 (MDT)


Out of curiousity, how do or will appropriate topics get enforced? If someone wants to post something and does, even against the guidelines, then what? Enforcement seems like it would be difficult. I personally would agree to most of the items listed. I have seen people listing FHCs and their resources, which seems to go against the guidelines. Thomas Lerman 20:46, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

Two things need to happen first before we can have effective enforcement:

1) Flagging.  This will allow you as a user to flag the articles on FHCs as being inappropriate, and request action by a moderator or sysop

2) We need to get critical mass number of moderators

We hope to implement flagging very soon.  We will be enforcing the inappropriate content as we find it.  Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

Jimgreene 20:27, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

Pages for Individual Cemeteries and Churches

The following exchange has occurred between two users. Please add your thoughts:

You deleted links on the York County, Virginia page to individual cemeteries and churches deeming them unnecessary. For each cemetery or church, I develop an individual page that has information, history, interments, etc. from that cemetery. I am wondering why you deleted the links? I think it is important that each cemetery and church have an individual page to avoid cluttered county pages. I had asked around and others thought this was a good idea. Let me know what you think and, if you agree, I will restore the links.Gregorybean 00:35, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

You were trying to internalize the links for individual cemeteries, amounting to try to create page for each cemetery. This is a no-no. It's ok to use external links. Likewise lists of names of interments are not allowed at all. That is a database. See this warning: William_Hutchinson:_Firth_Idaho_Entrepreneur posted by the Sysops.

To get better idea of how the cemeteries are linked at least 3 different ways...
1. Salem, Oregon (the cemeteries within the city)
2. Washington County, Maryland (separate page, but very intensive and unexpandable)
3. Bourne, Massachusetts

The objective of the FSWiki is to be a research resource, not a dumping place for datasets/databases, nor queries . . .

Dsammy 03:16, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

The church lists, can not be linked internally individually, either for same reasons.  Dsammy 03:16, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

I guess I am not understanding how individual pages for cemeteries is a "data set" that should not be included and how the page marked for deletion you referenced applies. I feel that individual pages for cemeteries adds to the purpose of the Wiki, to help users “find, use, and analyze” the records in individual cemeteries.

Outside links may not be helpful to researchers for a few reasons.

1. There may be no outside link to a cemetery
2. The information on the outside link may be inaccurate or inadequate
3. Outside links may become broken or the outside page may be deleted altogether

It seems natural that Wiki contributors could create a page, using outside links in addition to non-internet sources, that would have important information like a map, pictures, a history of the cemetery, dates of earliest and latest interments, activity of the cemetery, etc. It seems like it would make for a more consistent and thorough family history research experience to be able to collect information from multiple sources to create a thorough and expandable page for each cemetery.

Forcing the use of outside links means making Wiki contributors donate the information to these outside sites instead of internalizing it and creating a new page. It seems cumbersome to do this when the Wiki is the perfect place to post the information. Can you explain the underlying principle for not allowing individual pages? I don't see how it hurts the Wiki.

I have had this discussion with others. See Talk:United States Cemeteries. I have also posted this discussion at Talk:Purpose and Appropriate Topics. I recognize that there people have differing views on what and what is not appropriate. I have invested a lot of time on creating individual cemetery pages, so I hope you understand why I am impassioned about their existence. Thank you for your help in this matter.Gregorybean 07:28, 3 October 2009 (UTC)