FamilySearch Wiki:Purpose and Appropriate Topics

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FamilySearch Wiki is...

Write about
FamilySearch Wiki is a tool people can use to learn how to find their ancestors. It offers information on how to find, use, and analyze records of genealogical value. The site’s content is variously targeted to beginners, intermediate researchers and experts.[1]

Some suitable types of content for the wiki are:

  • Links to online sites that can be used to search for ancestor's records
    (see an example of an online record page).
  • Instructions on how to find, use and analyze records that are genealogically useful.
  • Historical definitions of legal terms, occupations and other terms that are useful to genealogists.
  • Images of records used as examples of the kind of information a type of record will contain.

FamilySearch Wiki is not...

Avoid inappropriate topics
  • A place to post (or find) information or images about a specific ancestor although there are articles that list the appropriate links to websites for these activities
    (see Searching Genealogy Names).
  • A place to post data sets and genealogical records, such as obituaries, military histories, or transcriptions of record sources.
  • A collection of product reviews.
  • An advertising medium for products or services. For more information, see the Professional Genealogists page.
  • A world encyclopedia of holidays and family traditions. Those which affect family history records or research methods are mentioned under specific countries.
  • A place to publicly post internal policies or contact information of the Family History Department or any other LDS Church affiliate.
  • A repository of knowledge regarding the use of FamilySearch products.
  • A place to survey users, solicit feedback or collect suggestions regarding the development of products other than this wiki.
  • A place to post religious doctrine or advocate or criticize religious practices.
  • A place to post images of LDS temples.
Further information: FamilySearch Wiki:Try another wiki for suggestions of other places on the Internet to post the information you want to share.

Limited Topics

Some topics which should be included can detract from the site’s purpose if covered in unnecessary depth:

  • History of a place.
  • Geographic information.
  • Military history which influenced the creation or location of genealogical records.
  • Case studies useful for teaching genealogical methodology.[2]
  • Methods of citing genealogical sources.
  • Power usage of an important computer application’s features in finding or analyzing genealogical records.
  • Use of computer hardware in genealogy.
  • Lists of Family History Library materials derived from the Family History Library Catalog (FHLC). The Wiki isn't meant to replicate the FHLC. However, when a FHLC entry fails to provide enough information for patrons to be able to use a resource, the Wiki, like the in-house registries that are found in FHL's can complement the FHLC entry.
  • Information on specific repositories. The Wiki is not intended to replicate the catalogs of other repositories, but it can be helpful to provide a general description of the major collections of a library or archive.
  • Information on genealogical groups, such as genealogical societies, companies or non profit organizations. Although the wiki is not intended to replicate, for instance, the catalog of a genealogical society's library, it can be helpful to list certain facts about a genealogical society. Which facts are appropriate and which are not?

Writings on the topics above can easily become bloated. For instance, while some kinds of geographic information can help genealogists learn where their ancestors may have migrated, others have little or no bearing on genealogy. When writing on any topic the best rule of thumb is to ask: “Have I made a good case as to how this information helps someone find, use, or analyze genealogical records?”


  1. Today FamilySearch Wiki’s beginner content is quite sparse. Therefore, we will add research guidance, otherwise known as resolution flows or reference interviews, to enable beginners to find good research advice without having to know genealogical methodology or lingo. We will achieve this in a low-tech fashion without having to code anything new in the application.
  2. While some readers find case studies to be quite enlightening, many regard them simply as the best cure for insomnia. Inasmuch as case studies can quickly bloat an article, it is often best to cover a case study in a separate article rather than add it to a general page on, say, Pennsylvania Vital Records.

See also