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 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)

The comments I posted are at the Cemeteries page, not here, spelling out several problemic problems. (Gregory, I refer you to this "The role of links to outside materials" up above. dsammy 08:31, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

Message from Sysop:

The guidelines and rules we have posted are an attempt to try to provide a structure for the information in the Wiki. As we get to specific issues we expect our guidlelines and policies to be refined and the structure to change.  Overall, the most important thing is that we get contributions that are helpful to others in finding relative's records.  This needs to be a place where people feel welcome and happy to contribute, so we need to be flexible.  Specificially, in this instance, if there is information on a small cemetery, and that information is not found online anywhere, we are happy to have that information on our wiki.  If, however, that information already exists online somewhere else, it would not make sense to re-enter it in here, it is much more logical to to just link to it.  If someone does re-enter the information here, rather than deleting it a much better approach would be to point out to the person that it already exists online elsewhere and that linking to it is a much better approach.  Then you could offer to show them how to do the link or just offer to do it for them if they want.  That is a much more welcoming approach than just deleting the information and pointing them to a policy.  There are always exceptions to policy and policy should only be used to police the wiki if the material is obscene or inappropriate. Otherwise we need to recognize that policies can change based on circumstances.

That said, I have absolutely no problem with having a separate page for each small cemetery.  Especially if there is no other place where that information can be found or linked to.  And again, deleting someone else's content is not the best way to do this.  Make a comment on the discussion page, suggest, and then allow the person to make the appropriate action, if any.  Content is king, style, format, policy are a distant second.

Jimgreene 14:58, 6 October 2009 (UTC)

I would have to agree with Jimgreene. Obviously, the only one that knows the intent of what was going on the individual pages is the author. I will describe a couple of non-exhaustive examples: Creating a database of those interred would go against the general purpose. If information on the cemeteries do not exist elsewhere and it is too much information for a small paragraph, then I saw create a page each.
In any case, I would say that some type of discussion is the best and most positive way of approaching this type of thing. It seems quite obvious that the author was still working on the article in progress. Just deleting and/or changing is, at Jimgreen mentioned, not very inviting. I believe we want as many people contributing as possible. Thomas Lerman 17:51, 6 October 2009 (UTC)
P.S. I see more has been done to James City County, Virginia and do not see any problem with the concept. I personally would recommend not putting the number of interments listed at Find A Grave as that number could change daily. I probably would suggest not having a link duplicated such as the Find A Grave in the body and then again the same link in the External Links. I probably would put the Google Maps link with the GPS info. This may become a moot point as we discuss various mapping tools with the GPS in the Wiki. I may also suggest putting the type of cemetery it is, if known and not already listed. For example, some cemeteries may be Jewish or primarily of some religion or tradition. Anything to help someone looking for information. Thomas Lerman 18:02, 6 October 2009 (UTC)

Family traditions vs. holiday-related family traditions

The section, "FamilySearch Wiki is not..." has "An encyclopedia of holidays and family traditions of the world."

While I fully agree that the wiki should not be used as, "An encyclopedia of holidays," the "family traditions" part has me puzzled.

If this is discussing holiday-related family traditions, then I agree.

But there is one very important family tradition that is common in many parts of the word. It is especially important to genealogists and that is the tradition of giving the children their mother's maiden name as their (the child's) middle name.

My question is whether the statement regarding "family traditions" should read "holiday-related family traditions" or not.

Tom Huber 00:27, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

A quick look, the wording is not correct. It should reads "Family traditions, including holiday-related traditions." Holiday-related traditions is a subset of the Family Traditions, as much as the naming customs are subset. dsammy 00:39, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
To me, the traditions would allow cultural traditions, not family specific traditions. It also talks about encyclopedia type. To me, brief mentions of various naming traditions could help in research and therefore should be allowed. Mentioning other family traditions, such as getting together once a year for a special meal, would not help in research and therefore not allowed. Thomas_Lerman 03:47, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
What we're trying to prevent here is a problem that existed before: A user was posting pages on holiday and family traditions that have no bearing on genealogical research. The question at hand is whether loosening the language on the restriction to allow posts on family traditions would still prevent the unwanted behavior. I'd rather say something like FamilySearch Wiki is not "a place to document traditions that have no bearing on genealogical research." RitcheyMT 15:20, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

Importance of this article

How "foundational" is this Purpose and Appropriate Topics article? Does it belong linked to from the FamilySearch Wiki:Guiding Principles page, or does it belong as one of the main policies? Perhaps the first one in the "Content and Style" list? It seems like a very important article to me but it's only linked to from within the Policies and guidelines navbox, not from anywhere on the pages themselves. It took me a while to find this page or realize its importance and I think that's because it's not linked to or mentioned obviously from the guiding principles or from the main policies. Thoughts? janellv 04:23, 11 June 2011 (UTC)