I was WikiTree’s top Goff contributor for the year 2021 but I’m not all that enthusiastic about this site.

I thought WikiTree would be the perfect place to post my family information and pictures, particularly my two Goff lines, on a public site where a paid subscription was not required. I was naive enough to believe that the profiles I created would remain intact but WikiTree is a corroborative effort which means any member can make changes to the profiles whether their information is correct or not or something they found on the Internet. WikiTree would work better if the members would contact the profile manager of proposed changes for approval or rejection instead of allowing the changes to be arbitrarily made. This would still be corroboration but more controlled. Otherwise, too many cooks spoil the broth..

In addition to my other lines, I created well-researched WikiTree profiles through the great grandchildren of the four Goff brothers of Western Virginia. Many of my lines are West Virginia connected. West Virginia is unique in that a person could live in four different counties and two different States without changing their residence. WikiTree prefers the location be shown at the time of the event while I prefer locations to be more exact such as, Monongalia County, Virginia (now Tucker County, West Virginia). WikiTree members not having a knowledge of West Virginia history will change the location to Monongalia, Virginia which is not specific enough or Monongalia, West Virginia or Tucker, West Virginia neither of which existed at the time of the event. WikiTree doesn’t want the word county or divisions within the county to be shown in locations and prefers locations such as Salem Township, Meigs County, Ohio be shown as Salem, Meigs, Ohio which would leave the reader wondering if Salem is a city, town, township, precinct or some other designation.

WikiTree requires a source be shown before it will allow a photo to be posted and this is good but Ancestry, Find A Grave and other sites don’t have this requirement; therefore, I can find pictures that I photographed posted on paid and unpaid sites with no source given. I don’t require permission to use my photos but it would be a courtesy if I was cited as the source.

WikiTree e-mails me a weekly report containing changes made by members to profiles I manage. Many of these changes are incorrect making it necessary for me to restore the correct information. WikiTree periodically initiates contests where members compete as to who can make the most changes to profiles whether they have a family connection to the profiles or not. Duplicate profiles are another problem. A person can only have one profile on WikiTree. If a member starts creating a profile when one already exists, WikiTree will display a warning not to proceed. Many WikiTreers will ignore this warning and create a duplicate profile which will need to be merged into the original profile. This makes more work for both profile managers who become co-managers once the two profiles are merged. This is not corroboration but duplication of effort. Also, there can be problems with members who insist their information is correct and keep making the same incorrect changes over and over again to established profiles. If the member persists, a mediator is appointed to resolve the problem. I don’t recommend WikiTree for anyone wanting to post their family information online as the negative outweighs the positive.


Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of posts by GGFA member and master researcher, Roy Lockhart. Watch for additional posts from Roy. If you are a GGFA member and would like to share a story about your research, you are welcome to share here as well. Contact: info@irgs.org.

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