Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thrifty Thursday: WikiTree

embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

I have a new favourite tool for storing family tree data on the computer. WikiTree is an online tool that allows you to create a family tree and store pretty much any type of information imaginable. With a biography field for each person, the ability to create pages for anything, and privacy settings for each individual, it seems like a great way to collaborate with family on your family tree.

I've only been using WikiTree for about a month now, and I'm having trouble getting family members to join and help me out, but I did already get in touch with my 8th cousin once removed to talk about our shared Richard line.

Every time you add someone to your tree, you see suggestions of similar people that have already been added, so you can check whether your relative has already been added by someone else. This is where a slightly annoying feature comes in. If you want to add someone who already exists on WikiTree to your tree, you have to get on their Trusted List, which is up to the person who created that profile. This can be an irritating process. However, I think the pros outweigh this small con.

WikiTree is free, and I don't mean freemium! So finally I'm not being constantly asked to pay if I want to find all kinds of information about my ancestors (I'm looking at you,,, etc.). WikiTree was clearly built with the free sharing of information in mind, which is one of the things I love about it.

Plus, they have neat widgets like the one you see above, and the one in the sidebar, which shows my recent contributions. Overall, I highly recommend WikiTree to any thrifty genealogist!


  1. Hi Lianne!

    Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers just drew my attention to this post. It's wonderful. Thank you for saying so many kind words about our site!

    FWIW, I understand your frustration with the Trusted List requests. We're committed to keeping merges consensual, i.e. the Profile Managers both have to agree before two profiles of the same person are combined into one. The value of this policy was recently highlighted in the recent flap about Geni enabling anyone to merge profiles. But ... that's not exactly what you're talking about here.

    You're talking about connecting to an existing profile, e.g. adding X as the mother of Y, not merging your X1 with your cousin's X2. The tricky part here is that if you're not on the Trusted List for X you don't have editing rights for X. Adding X as the mother of Y, in our system, means changing X's profile as well as changing Y's, since the mother-child connection is two-way.

    I'd like to figure out a way to make this smoother. Maybe some sort of "pending connection" system.

    Anyway, be sure to post on our Facebook group or contact me personally any time you have questions, comments, or suggestions. Remind me you're a blogger and I'll give you special attention. ;-)


    Chris Whitten Creator

  2. Hi Chris, thanks for reading my post!

    I totally get needing everyone to be agreed on merging profiles. I definitely wouldn't want people to be able to do that to my profiles willy-nilly.

    I like your idea about a pending connections function. But like I said, it's not a huge issue the way it is now. I imagine it would be tough to find a system that didn't have any downsides.

    Lianne Lavoie

  3. Hi Lianne

    As a user of Wikitree myself one cure to your issue is to create a new profile of the person you wish to add. Then suggest a merge between your new profile and the one the other person has (who you think may be a match).
    This forces the other manager to address your merge and makes them aware of your family merging into their work. They can also add from your data (or correct yours).
    Who knows you may even meet a new family member.

  4. Lianne, you'll get a few extra clicks here because I posted a link from our Facebook group.

    Jamie, that's a very good point. Rather than create a new "pending connection" system we should aim to make what you suggest simpler. Maybe when you add a family member and a suggested match comes up, you could somehow create the new person and the pending merge in one step.

  5. Thanks Chris. :)

    Thanks for the suggestion, Jamie. I've never actually done a merge on WikiTree, so I don't have that experience to compare to the whole Trusted List thing.