Difference between revisions of "FamilySearch Wiki:Guiding Principles"

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=== Guideline Links  ===
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| General (Article)<br>  
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| Free, Verifiable, Neutral, Spam free, Code of Conduct, and '''Be BOLD'''<br>  
| Free, Verifiable, Neutral, Spam free, Code of Conduct, and '''Be BOLD'''<br>  
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Revision as of 03:03, 12 May 2014

Return to Guiding principles and policies

Purpose and Scope

The Research Wiki is a tool that allows individuals to come together and teach the world how to do genealogy research. As a Wiki, anyone can share their knowledge in specific areas and topics. Through collaboration, sharing, open-edit, and forums the community can build a high-quality resource.  As a community of contributors we follow these six guiding principles to ensure we are creating an exciting tool for the the research community.

Use the “Guideline Links” at the end of the Contents Box to access a table listing specific guidelines and related articles.


As a not-for-profit entity, FamilySearch fundamentally requires that all its products and services, including the Research Wiki, be free of charge to everyone. 

All content on the Research Wiki is covered under a Creative Commons license, which states that anyone can use this content, with proper citations (Attribution), under the same or similar license (Share Alike). Each page in the wiki includes a CC-BY-SA graphic that links to the specific license.

Articles in the Research Wiki may include links to records and other sources on the Internet that charge an access or registration fee, as long as the user has a clear choice whether to pay it or not.

Sources and Delimiters

Articles should cite authoritative, verifiable sources whenever possible. Any un-sourced material may be challenged and removed. Limit discussion of religion, politics, ethnicity, culture, and history to those aspects which affect family history research or record keeping. The Research Wiki does not have copies of the source documents (except the few pages used as examples). Do not include details about specific ancestors, or individual biographies unless they are used as examples on a record, or as case studies to illustrate a process or principle.

Neutral Point of View

The Research Wiki must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly and without bias, all significant views of family history related topics that have been published by reliable sources. This allows those who use and depend on the knowledge contained within the Research Wiki, to see and try all techniques and suggestions for finding records about their ancestors. Neutral point of view also requires the citation of sources that are authoritative and verifiable. Avoid personal points of view, personal opinion, personal experiences, or arguments. The Research Wiki is not the place to include personal testimonials, stories of research success, or advertising platforms. Overly religious, political, ethnic, cultural, historic, and nationalistic discussions can tend to be biased and one-sided. They rarely apply to family history research, records, or instruction. The best way to avoid being personal or dogmatic is to write with a neutral point of view and cite authoritative sources for the ideas you express. Strive to fairly explain any competing points of view that differ from your own. Even though this site is sponsored by a religious entity, it is neither reviewed nor correlated for doctrinal correctness, and therefore, should not become a forum for doctrinal discussions or discourses—even ones that are purely informational in nature. Other sites may exist for this purpose, especially lds.org and may be linked to from within the Research Wiki.


As a tool designed to guide users to the best sources of genealogical information, the wiki has some sensitivity around the topic of linking to commercial Websites. Like any librarian, wiki contributors writing an article on Ohio death records will recommend a variety of good sources for these records, including free sources (like FamilySearch Historical Records Collections, RootsWeb or U.S. GenWeb) or fee-based sources (like Ancestry, Heritage Quest, microfilms at Family History Centers, or even a government records office). The goal is to recommend sources in the order that the user might want to find them, taking into consideration  budgets, time constraints, and desire for instant gratification.

That said, the wiki may not be used simply as an advertising platform. Pages should not be slanted overwhelmingly to any one vendor's products in exclusion of free sites and other vendor sites. Do not direct researchers to an expensive source when a free one will suffice.  Recommend sources to users in terms of what will help them, not what will help your business.

For further information regarding advertising, see the Professional Genealogists page regarding advertising and marketing.

Code of Conduct

The FamilySearch Research Wiki has a code of conduct similar to that of other large wikis. It includes respect for all of your fellow users, even when you may not agree with what they say. Those who contribute content or edit existing content must be civil and avoid conflicts of interest, personal attacks, labeling of others, broad sweeping generalizations, stereotyping, etc. They should seek for consensus and avoid edit wars — follow the three-revert rule. Assume good faith on the part of others, be warm and open in your speech. Profanity or profane slang will not be accepted in any form or language.

Be Bold

Do not wait for permission to make a change that you feel will be beneficial to those who use the Research Wiki. If you see something that needs to be done, do it. Don’t make a suggestion, make a change. However, remember that when making changes don’t do anything that would prevent those who disagree with your changes from reverting back to the original version while civil discussion happens to reach an acceptable compromise. Don’t let the possibility of disagreement stop you from making the changes. If you feel the change is needed change it. Don’t take edits or changes as a personal affront. Contributors and editors are encouraged to work with the community to make the Research Wiki a superior site for family history research information.

Learn More

Guideline Links

Research Wiki Guidelines and miscellaneous links
Type Links Description start
General (Article)
Free, Verifiable, Neutral, Spam free, Code of Conduct, and Be BOLD
General (Article)
Defined as: first, general agreement, and second, group solidarity of belief
General (Article)
Manual of Style
A set of standards for the design and writing of wiki articles
General (Article)
Transforming a Style Idea to a Manual of Style Guideline
Procedure to try to transform your idea into a site-wide guideline
Behavioral guideline
Assume good faith
Be civil and follow dispute resolution processes, rather than attacking contributors or edit warring with them
Behavioral guideline
Etiquette Guidelines
Principles of etiquette or "Wikiquette", on how to work with others on the Wiki
Behavioral guideline
Be kind to newcomers
Most newcomers are not familiar with the policies or guiding principles so respectfully instruct them
Behavioral guideline
Digital Coups
Don’t try to win an edit war by bringing in allies or by enlisting friends to create the illusion of support.
Behavioral (Article)
Tips to avoid disputes
To prevent an edit war, both contributors should use civilized discussion
Behavioral (Article)
Talk to each other
The negotiation process will remain transparent by recording the entire conversation on the article "talk" page
Behavioral (Article)
Contributor assistance
Contributor assistance can be sought by listing a dispute through an edit to this site
Behavioral (Article)
Mediation Requests
If you are experiencing an editing conflict, you can submit the issue here so that it will be mediated
Content guideline
Proper Content
Just because you can publish something widely doesn’t mean you should if it is not relevant
Content guideline
Proven techniques
When sharing research information avoid unproven techniques. If you have not tried it then do not share it
Content guideline
Source Citation Formats
The first contributor to add a reference to an article sets the style for that article.
Content guideline
Link, don’t copy
It is far better to add a brief quote or summary and then link to the public domain source material
Content guideline
Biographies of individuals, whether living or deceased, are not allowed (except as an short example)
Content guideline
An article that covers a syllabus should remain as given, a new article can be created with the latest information
Content (Article)
Accuracy and collaboration
Wiki content authoring isn’t about command and control; it’s about the merit of ideas. We are smarter than me
Organizational (Proposal)
Proposal: The categories used should reflect where users are most likely to look if they can't remember the article name
Organizational guideline
Category deletion
Categories that do not follow naming conventions can be immediately renamed and deleted after moving articles
Organizational guideline
Process of resolving conflicts when a single term can be associated with more than one topic
Editing guideline
Talk pages should be signed to aid discussions: articles should not be signed because they are shared work
Editing guideline
User ID
It is best to choose a neutral, non-controversial name. No obscene or profane names are allowed.
Editing guideline
Talk page guidelines
A space for editors to discuss improvements to articles and other pages using courtesy and consideration
Editing guideline
Three-revert rule
Do not revert any page or any part of a page more than 3 times in 24 hours or involvement by an administrator may result
Editing guideline
User page
Your user page is not a personal website and should only be used for Wiki related content
Style Guideline
Article or page size
Article size should be determined by readability and organization (100K byte maximum per Wikipedia)
Style Guideline
Naming conventions
Best practices in naming articles, categories, images, files, and templates for this Wiki.
Style (Proposal)
Naming Conventions for Geographic Names
Proposed policy provides that article names should be chosen for the general reader, not for specialists
Category:Style guidelines
Category listing
Template:Policies and guidelines
Template of policies and guidelines