Popular Profile Cleanup

Started by Randy Stebbing on Friday, June 24, 2011
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6/24/2011 at 12:32 PM

I've just added a bunch of profiles that show up on geni's list of most popular profiles that could use some "about" cleanup in their profiles.

The project were we temporarily tag profiles that need editing is found here:
Once the profiles are cleaned back up they are removed from that project.

Most of these need clean up as the result of merges. Below each profile I've listed the current curator if there was one. Since these popular profiles get more visitors it would probably be best to re-visit them occasionally to make sure their "about" sections are still ok.

I'd be willing to clean up any or all of these eventually but if you want to "sign up" with the intent that you'll do a clean up pass just respond to this discussion called "Popular Profile Cleanup".


Randy S.

A random selection (mainly USA connected) of profiles that needed various amounts of cleanup as of June 24, 2011:

Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold, V
Kristi Mas Curator

Humphrey Bogart
Erica Howton

Laura Elizabeth Wilder
Jenna XI

Nikola Tesla
Jadranka S.

Nancy Lincoln
Daniel Walton

Richard Williams, Immigrant
Erica Howton

Joseph Alden
Erica Howton

James Madison, 4th President of the United States
This one is a MP but it doesn't say who the Curator is.

Maj. William Bradford, Jr., Dep. Gov. of Plymouth Colony
Erica Howton

Henry Ford
Ofir Friedman

Betsy Ross
Margaret Verner

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States
Gene aka "On Hiatus"

Barack H. Obama, 44th President of the USA
Tammy Swingle (Tucker)

George Washington, 1st President of the United States
Daniel Walton

Marilyn Monroe
Jenna XI

Wilbur Wright
Peter Dutton, Jr.

Yigal Burstein

John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the USA
Daniel Walton

Lt. Joseph Rogers, "Mayflower" Passenger
Erica Howton

Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the USA
Fred Bergman

John Alden, "Mayflower" Passenger
Jason Peter Herbert

Bill Gates
Rehan Allahwala

Col. Daniel Boone
Pam Wilson

6/24/2011 at 1:02 PM

As of this afternoon there are 80+ profiles in the project. This discussion is specifically about focusing on cleaning up some "popular" profiles but the "about cleanup" project itself is designed for anyone to use to tag profiles for latter cleanup. So the project is for both popular and obscure. As a rule of thumb if you add 5 profiles to the project then make the commitment that you'll pick either those 5 profiles or even 5 others that you'll clean-up. As a way of indicating progress please post a message to one of the discussion topics when you've cleaned up a profile (and removed it from the project) so that others can go and see your good work!

6/24/2011 at 1:20 PM

I've cleanup up Henry Ford and removed him from the project.

6/25/2011 at 8:07 PM

A thought on these profile "about sections":

As these are for famous people, anyone can find info on who they are. We don't need long bios here. Therefore, the format for these should be a short one-sentence description, a link to their Wikipedia page, followed by the person's genealogy issues.

Using Hitler as an example:

"Adolf Hitler was dictator of Germany from 1934-1945 and was responsible for numerous crimes against humanity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler
There is some dispute as to the identity of his paternal grandfather. Adolf's father, Alois, testified that his father was Johann Georg Heidler. However, Adolf's grandmother Maria Schicklgruber never revealed who Alois's father was, and there are two alternate grandfather's for Adolf Hitler: Johann Nepomuk Heidler and Leopold Frankenberger."

6/25/2011 at 8:10 PM

One more important thing to add: If you copy Wikipedia text without crediting and linking to Wikipedia, it violates their copyright conditions, which require that all contributors are credited for their work. Wikipedia's history pages have that required attribution, so we need to link to them if using their content.

6/26/2011 at 3:31 AM

Albert Einstein Profile has been cleaned - you may remove him from the project.

I did some cosmetics to the profile of Nikola Milutin Tesla and it is OK as well

6/26/2011 at 8:28 AM

Randy Stebbing

For profiles the standard format is

New Format

Thursday, January 20, 2011
2:41 PM

''Name, Title'' Was born on Died on
He was also known as

Preceded by:
Succeeded by:

Parents: son of / daughter of <Name, dates>
<here is the narrative description of who he was and what his life was like>
<honorific> Name <in bold>. Titles, if any. Then date of birth, location; baptism, location; date of death, location; date of burial, location; will proved, location. Also known as <in italics.>

Using all lime that can be filed and any souces uploaded to the source section. By uploading the source the system links it to the souce for the copyright

6/26/2011 at 8:32 AM

Notice on Henry Ford
the souce is not uploaded instead it is put in the about me

Private User
6/26/2011 at 8:31 PM

Have you guys cleared up the mystery of Abe Lincoln's grandparents? I was looking around and found an article on Gena=ealogy.com where a girl had found some info showing his father may be a Ben Hardin, she got it out of a book called Letters, Interviews, and Statements collected by william Hendron and Jessee W Weik, pulished 1865..

Private User
6/27/2011 at 5:00 PM

I've never been able to find anything definitive :(

6/28/2011 at 5:26 AM

Marvin, I don't understand your posts about formatting. I especially don't understand why you linked to Randy's profile. And are you saying that Henry Ford is an example of what you think it should be?

I see no reason to include immediate family members in the about section, since Geni automatically does this to the right of the profile pic. Similarly, Geni automatically shows the birth and death dates next to the profile pic. Geni, of course, has it's own sources section, so other than linking to a biography, no reason to put it in the about section.

I don't see any reason why you're proposed format is better that what I suggested and you didn't give any reasons for it.

6/28/2011 at 6:04 AM

Brian...Marvin is referring to a standard setup for the About Me section, which is used as a solid "this is the accurate info" point of reference, so that if a merge is done with invalid data, the accurate data is still available to the person trying to clean it up. It is also a place to note where different sources provide different info, for further research.

6/28/2011 at 6:53 AM

Also their is a difference in the emphasis in how you approach a profile "clean up" and how you might approach a fresh profile's "authorship".

I'll clean up other users profiles and in doing so will try not to so heavily edit the profile that the original contributor's info is mangled, lost or deleted. This kind of editing is for formatting and presentation and the skills required are careful copy and pasting and some wiki text editing knowledge. In a cleanup pass redundant info is discarded (the classic case would be two data dumps from wikipedia or two copy and paste dumps of identical info grabbed off of ancestry.com.

What Anita and Marvin are talking about is a step above "cleaning" and that is actual profile "authorship". Standard templates, customized to fit particular research or editorial styles,are a great way to present the info in a concise organized way. The template that Marvin provided is not suitable for all cases but is one example of an excellent way of organizing the data for many historic profiles.

My initial request when starting this discussion topic was on "clean up" not "authorship". Cleanup is easier. Most profiles "about" section can be cleaned up in 5 minutes (although for some very long data dumps on historic profiles I've had to spend a couple of hours to clean them up). Authorship on the other hand takes longer, hours or days, and requires a dedicated research effort.

My request was a call for help to get a first pass cleanup done on as many of the "popular" profiles as possible knowing full well that a more careful "authorship" pass will be needed on all of these.

Private User
6/28/2011 at 8:08 AM

I agree with what Randy said about our approach to cleaning profiles. Our primary objective in our project is to get them looking presentable; that doesn't mean they're going to be *perfect*. In fact, it's fairly normal for us to tidy up a profile that still lacks citations or which might only have a very brief "About Me" narrative. That's okay -- that's where managers come in. We're not looking to do all of the work, just to get things going and to have what is in the field be readable in the meantime.

Randy, I just cleaned Joseph Alden and Wilbur Wright. Marv, you'll note that neither are comprehensive in any way, but they represent a tidier version of what was there previously, giving someone else a good foundation when they're ready to write/source. Maybe you have interest in creating a separate project focused on writing comprehensive sketches of notable figures?

6/28/2011 at 8:20 AM

Great discussion.

Also notice that "comprehensive sketches" are also iterative.

I have a decently sourced and researched master profile with good quotes etc. But I'm still not satisfied that it meets "blog" quality, so will no doubt revisit one day.

Private User
6/28/2011 at 9:39 AM

Thanks for a great explanation on the difference between cleaning-up and authoring, I appreciate that.

I was just looking at @LauraElizabethIngalls yesterday and I'm not clear on what needs cleaning-up? I would think it needs to have its About section completely written, but that would be "authoring" as opposed to clean-up, right?

Private User
6/28/2011 at 10:02 AM

Jennifer, the profile for Laura Elizabeth Wilder has been edited since Randy made this post. If you click on the "History" link at the upper-right-hand corner of the "About Me" section and then compare the revisions of March 31, 2011 and June 25, 2011, you'll see that someone unaffiliated with our project has almost completely blanked the profile.

That is not what we aim to do in this project -- we try to retain all useful information but present it in a more concise, logical format. So that profile actually needs someone to go and add back in the useful information, since that revision was definitely overkill.

6/28/2011 at 10:14 AM

I guess the only point that was left unaddressed is uploading of links.

In Henry Ford

There are 4 links cited but there are no sources uploaded to the profile.

In http://www.geni.com/blog/geni-podcast-citing-your-sources-339021.html

It talks about citing sources.

And the reasons it gives are

■Why is it important to cite your sources in your genealogy research?
Many beginners to genealogy research dismiss the importance of source citations. Here are some reasons why they should be taken seriously:

■Eliminate research “redos.” What if you need clarification on a fact related to a birth date or marriage location? Would you know where your current information came from? Or would you need to start the whole search process over again? Citing your source the first time eliminates the need to redo research.
■Evaluate credibility of sources. A fact such as a death date can have several sources (Social Security Death Index, death certificate, obituary, etc.) and thus several citations. You can rank the credibility of these sources and compare them to each other by easily knowing where the information came from.
■Assist fellow researchers. Very often we are asked to share research on specific family lines with others. Our colleagues can easily locate the same information if they have access to the sources.
■Build your reputation. Eventually you may be asked to publish your research in a genealogy magazine or journal. In order to meet not only publishing requirements but generally accepted genealogy research practices, you will need to supply source citations for your research.

Now in the case of Henry Ford#/tab/revision

There has been 21 revisions, and there are 5 managers. (yes I've looked at it too)

And there has been at least one clean up that we know of, yet no one has bothered to upload the sources to the profile.

The links to the sources is in the profile are in the profile so it's only a matter of coping the link and uploading it then checking off the box that says what info is found in what source.

I'm not saying that a cleanup is going to make a profile perfect, but it seems that citing a source should be part of it. By uploading the source you archive a copy of it. If that source is no longer available for some reason, there will still be a record of it in the profile. This is even more important if for some reason only you have access to it. (from ancestry or a copy of the birth certificate on your computer)
If a profile says "I am in possession of" then a copy of that should be copied and attached to the profile as a source.

In one case a picture was attached to a profile of a coin that showed the Latin name of the person and attached to the profile. It's small things like that that give a profile credibility to it and Geni in general.

If any one needs help in how to upload a source just email me and I'll ne glad to help.

Private User
6/28/2011 at 10:36 AM

For me the mostly blanking of the About Me on Laura Elizabeth Wilder seem to be something that would be correct to do because it is mostly removal of duplicate text from Wikipedia which is now replaced by a summary and a link in respect of that source.

6/28/2011 at 11:04 AM

Luckily there is the ability to "revert" to a previous version.

* Overview - Edit - History

I did that for Laura Elizabeth Wilder, cleaned it up, and removed from this Project.

This was kind of a desecration wasn't it. Someone had taken the trouble to hand type in a long "Letter From Laura to the Children."

6/28/2011 at 11:06 AM


Personally I'm not always happy with Wikipedia biographies. Of course I try and quote, link, and upload, but there are other sources I use as well, some of which may be a lot more ephemeral ... but many are much better written.

6/28/2011 at 11:24 AM

Hey Private User

Laura Ingalls Wilder is my 10th cousin once removed. I better check that path now.

6/28/2011 at 11:30 AM

Erica Howton

I did't read the letter to the chidren. Was it worth putting into a doc and uploading it as a doc to the profile?

Private User
6/28/2011 at 11:31 AM

Bjørn P. Brox, I guess my point would be that it's okay to leave the Wikipedia profile up. Doesn't mean it's *preferable* -- obviously, we always want original writing when we can have it -- but it would have been okay to leave one copy of it there. We typically don't delete everything that's in an About Me field. Like Erica said, there was good material in there that could have been salvaged and moved to the "Documents" section or otherwise utilized. Thanks for your work, Erica.

Marv, if you'd like to join the project and take on the initiative to add all of the citations formally, or if you'd like to create a sub-project for using the "Sources" tab, we'd love to have you. I think if you watch the project for a while and see the absolutely huge amount of text our volunteers have to weed through, you might get a better idea of why we're not there to fine-tune things. Again, that's really the job of the profile manager(s) -- we're just trying to give them a nudge in the right direction while making things readable at a basic level for users.

6/28/2011 at 11:31 AM

Never mind, I thought you took it out.

6/28/2011 at 11:32 AM

I was thinking of that but I didn't have the heart to go searching for a good website link to download / upload it from so I could source correctly.

I was thinking it's likely someone typed it in to show the profile to their children.

Private User
6/28/2011 at 11:36 AM

Erica, can you copy and paste it from the revision history and then save it as a PDF to upload? I can go back and see what's there...

Another point regarding Wikipedia profiles: They're never perfect, but I would much rather have one of those than include a copyrighted essay from elsewhere. If I don't have time to write a full essay, but the Wikipedia entry is good enough, I'm okay with it being used as a back-up.

I think something we should revisit at some point is what should and shouldn't go into an "About Me." There are some that turn into absolute books. Are we looking for a full history of someone, or the pertinent details? There are many times when I'll include a link to other pages saying something like, "Go here for details on his full military service" or "Go here for a full list of organizations in which she was a member." Otherwise, they can become *so* massive that I honestly don't want to read them -- at that point, I might as well just go buy a book.

Private User
6/28/2011 at 11:37 AM

Wait, never mind, I just did exactly what Marv did. Heh. Sorry! :)

Private User
6/28/2011 at 11:42 AM

Ashley, - my point was more that copyright rules does not allow you to include a complete text copy, especially when there are no reference to the source. It is also much better that such a text is only maintained at one place.

Private User
6/28/2011 at 11:48 AM

Private User Thank you for the explanation! As it stood, I was completely mystified, lol!

What bothers me about linking to Wiki profiles is that they're not always tremendously accurate - I get the argument that it's better than nothing, but I'm always concerned that if someone is referred by us to Wiki and finds a bunch of inaccuracies, it reflects on Geni. If we're going to link to a Wiki, would it be a good idea to add a buyer-beware statement? I mean, something along the lines of, "For more information, see the information available on Wiki [link] but we cannot vouch for its accuracy"?


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