de Villiers, Pama numbering system

Started by Private User on Monday, February 10, 2014


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Private User
2/10/2014 at 11:20 AM

There has been some discussion and debate among the curators concerning the de Villiers, Pama number numbering system recorded in the Suffix field.

One one side there is the view that the numbers resemble a DNA sequence and are misleading to non SA users. Others feel the number can become very long and cumbersome. Still others are concerned that there is no mechanism to check and update numbers that should or have been changed due to newly found offspring…
That said, the numbering system is fairly well entrenched on our tree and a lot of users find them to be beneficial in confirming matches and thereby reducing the chance of an incorrect merge…

The reason for this discussion then is to inform our collaborators and get feedback for a decision to limit the number in the Suffix field to only the last 5 digits, but to record the compete number in the AKA field.
e.g. b2c3d5e7f6g9h1i12j2 would go in the AKA and i12j2 in suffix field

2/10/2014 at 12:20 PM

I"m happy with that Donovan

2/10/2014 at 12:27 PM

I can agree with that, I'll start to change mine asap

Private User
2/10/2014 at 11:40 PM

Can we ask that any notes add to the About section go AFTER the full number so that it stays on top? Curators could also add them to a Curator note whenever we come across them - people can also send curators a request to do that?

2/11/2014 at 12:22 AM

Wow, I added a few thousand of the De Villiers codes to profiles, especially to the Steyns here on Geni. Trust you will understand that I am not going to redo all of that. Would rather use my limited time to add new information. In the new profiles I will not add any de Villiers codes. Or does that get me into trouble with the Geni bigshots?

Private User
2/11/2014 at 12:37 AM

Chris Steyn - that is the last thing we are asking - just to change them as you come across them in your working of the tree. The suggestion is that the full number go -

Preferably in the AKA field as this is most visible in merges

If in the about field then it needs to be kept floating at the top of the full notes

Curators can add them in a C note

2/11/2014 at 1:02 AM

OK thanks. Big relief :-)

Private User
2/11/2014 at 7:13 AM

The option of using just two or three letters in the subscripts is eminenlty sound. And I have alresdy done so in some places -- as have others. It is not as if this destroys the full subscript since it can always be recovered from the tree as a whole if needed. However, I don't thimk there is any need to carry out a massive campaign of conversion. All tha needs to happen is that if you are working on a particular branch of the tree and cleaning things up for other reasons you can make this change at the same time I think that b2,c3d12, c3d12e4, d12e4f1 is better than just two letter subscripts
Abbreviating the months of the year using three letters is alway better than just two and is instantly distinguishable.

2/11/2014 at 10:16 AM

As I see it one reason why we have to change the numbering system is to fall in with the rest of the world. What system is the rest of the world using ? so that we can change for once and all.

For me every new line I have to duplicate take a minute or more and as I set it my target to put every Potgieter possible on Geni before I depart for the better life it is time wasting. You see there is not decades or years
to play with but Months, weeks, days. (I wont go to Minutes) God be praised)

5/27/2014 at 12:15 AM

The problem with only the last 5 digits (this is not defined well!) is that it does not carry enough information to sufficiently distinguish extended families with same names for cousins.

I have found methods which does not take long to enter long subs and where possible have entered full subs for all. And I plan to add more where it is significant.

Why not rather use the recommended format by DVP (read this years ago => somewhat vague today) of breaking from every 4/5th generation? (below assuming 5th gen)




The problem with the 2gen break (for me the definition of a 5 digit limit) and the above is that you lose the information when you step over that break, and that information may be the significant information (i.e. specific lines of cousins with same names). The result would/could be more profiles similar and subject to inadverted merging, in the end more work for all.

The lower the gen break the higher the risk...

I am really disappointed where I see people have changed this without realising the significance. I would therefore ask from all : I certainly do not recommend that we go back and change where the information has been entered (accurately) already, as the DVP numbers is a quick method to see if and how people with similar surnames are related (instead of the Geni way - which does not work in all cases, e.g. private profiles).


Private User
5/27/2014 at 3:35 AM

Thanks for the input Jan
The full number should still be recorded in the "AKA" field.

5/27/2014 at 10:53 AM

yes sorry, misread the whole thing :) agree AKA

6/30/2014 at 6:06 PM

I am not sure about this numbering system at all and need some help here.
My fourth great grandfather is b2c5 and the generations after that I don't see any numbering do I number then b2c5d... according to approximate birth dates? Then when I come further down the line like with my grandfather I only have 2 children in those days people had many children so do I number them b2c5d1e?

Private User
6/30/2014 at 10:22 PM

Charmaine Carstens The numbers are not obligatory - they do not have to be used. If you want to add them the next generation would be b2c5 followed by d1, d2 etc. in order of their birth, but only IF YOU WANTED TO ADD THEM! The concerns have been that where these numbers get very long they clog up the suffix and name field - and so the recommendation is that beyond the b/c/ generation just the last 2 generations are added to the suffix field and the full number in the AKA field - all c generation would have b?c? in the suffix, but the next generation would have c?d? in the suffix field and b?c?d? in AKA field.

Your reasoning is correct but the numbers are optional! b2c5d1e would be what goes into the AKA field with just d1e1 in the suffix field.

The exercise presently being carried out is to ensure that where the numbers have been used the "B" generation is correct so that subsequent numbers used have a sound grounding.

See the link to an article by Richard Ball on this subject at

6/30/2014 at 10:45 PM

Thank you June. The reason I thought of doing this is because my grandfather, great grandfather and 2xgreat grandfather had the same names and this is very confusing. People are merging them without realizing it's different people.

Thank you for the link, it is very informative.

Private User
7/16/2014 at 12:22 AM

If you haven't been following it please go to this discussion where how we number b1 is an issue under discussion!

Private User
7/16/2014 at 12:26 AM

It has also been suggested that when abbreviating the DVN we should add the number - for example - look at Barend Daniel Marais

His full DVN is b2c4d1e4f12g1h3 and I had displayed just g1h3. What if we add the b generation number to the suffix so that it is visible on the tree - b2-g1h3?

Private User ?

Private User
7/16/2014 at 12:39 AM

For what reason? I see Judi has abandoned the abbreviated number...

Private User
7/16/2014 at 1:41 AM

It would help people see at a glance which line of the SV is involved - with the abbreviated display and the tree view you have to go up quite some way to see unless you open profiles to see the full number.

Private User
7/16/2014 at 1:59 AM

Thanks June, I understand. it sounds like a need from someone who knows their genealogy well, and probably has it all on their "Legacy" or desktop software anyway.

I have no issue with that, but I don't think we can ask users to update their numbers again...

So we will have 3 styles of DVP's in the tree... not an ideal situation?

Private User
7/16/2014 at 2:09 AM

It is all going to be down to personal preference - perhaps the options can be outlined in the guidelines project for people to decide.

On profiles where there is only one manager those who wish to use the whole number are free to do that - when profiles start merging and multiple managers start emerging is when a compromise needs to be reached - if both were to agree that the full numbers are preferred then there isn't a problem. Otherwise the options can be discussed -

1 - No number
2 - Full number - b2c4d1e4f12g1h3
3 - abbreviated number - last 2 generations - g1h3
4 - abbreviated number + B number - b2-g1h3

Where there are MANY managers perhaps the guidelines need to be followed and those guidelines are either 3 & 4

7/16/2014 at 2:50 AM

For me, the system is becoming too complicated. We already have the rest of the world querying what is going on on our tree, as none of them use their personal numbering systems on the World tree, and their SA descendant profiles of European ancestry are not an 'a' generation with reference to the rest of their profiles on the big tree.

Printing out a family tree graph / HistoryLink pie chart becomes very clogged and ugly with all these numbers in the Name.

I have conceded to the argument that displaying the last 2 numbers prevents mis-merges, but, if that logic is also being thrown out of the window (as in the case of Theunis Botha discussion:; or adding the b generation numbers to the Name display), & could actually now 'cause' mis-merges, then I'm re-thinking my support of displaying numbers in Name Display Suffix Field altogether. (Note that this is not what GENI intended that field to be used for.)

We are not an off shoot of GISA - and there are good reasons not to just perpetuate the apartheid genealogy tree as is.

GENi's strength is in having far more flexibility to make necessary changes faster than print media, and it should.
Unless the DP numbers reflect accurate history on GENi, they should not be forced into the Suffix field of the Display Name, and should be kept in the AKA block in my opinion.

Private User
7/16/2014 at 2:51 AM

Is this an open discussion now? If not it should be.
Thank you June I will keep on communicating through you.
I am all for the fill number as it is the easiest way to follow when incorrect merges must or can be avoided.
I have not abonded the abbreviated numbers, where other use it, but on my own personal line I am using it, because it is my personal "siening van die situasie.". Also where a person use it I will not change there rule of thumb. I am here to help and not to do anything else. Ag June I amm sure I said it all wrong again.

Private User
7/16/2014 at 2:53 AM

Cross-post Sharon.

Private User
7/16/2014 at 3:29 AM

This is an ongoing discussion which emerges periodically when issues arise.

Whether you support the numbers or not Sharon isn't going to change things - too many people do want them - we just need to compromise on shared profiles. That is why we discuss!

There is the option to ignore suffixes which can be a temporary (because we don't want to loose other suffixes) measure when printing etc. Not sure how far reaching it is - need to experiment with both options on the printouts etc.

Sadly the problem is not going to go away - I wonder whether it would help if the display for merge comparisons included AKA fields - that way where the full number is there it will be seen.

Or maybe we need a field which is specifically for these sort of ID numbers?

Judi - you can't communicate through me - you just maybe sometimes need to explain yourself more carefully - use Afrikaans if it is easier - if I struggle to understand then I can ask!!

I am going to make wedding flowers now!

7/16/2014 at 4:16 AM

Judi - an idea?: Just do it tweetallig - use the Afrikaans word or phrase when you're stuck- and we'll understand.

(While I was away at the beach, I used google translate on my tablet to read the 'classics' in the original Afrikaans. (A language I consider amongst the most beautifully poetic in the world). So anyone who wants to visit me in my beachshack at Van Staadens can now read Dalene Matthee's 'Moerbeibos' and 'Eva se Susters', as well as 'Wolwedans in die Skemer' with all the 'hard' words translated into English in pencil :-) Off-topic, I know :-)

7/16/2014 at 4:47 AM

June, I'm not sure that GENi will endorse a country-specific numbering system that is knowingly factually incorrect or causes mismerges.

The fact that this problem "emerges periodically when issues arise" is perhaps the best reason of all to examine why it isn't functioning smoothly. It is a very 'vexed' (netelige? problematies?) question, and I don't have the answer, but we can be absolutely certain that GENi will provide a suffix field for DNA numbering long before it ever provides one for a closed SA-specific numbering system. So we need to figure out a solution around that.
Shutting off the suffix field when printing, removes all the data that is legitimately meant to go there. The logical result will be that people start to put titles in the first name field – which is already a huge GENI bugbear.

As to majority support on the GENI tree for DP suffixes by South Africans – I think there are a large number of people, like me, who are happy for the South Africans to use it, as long as it doesn’t create GENI problems for them - like deliberately perpetuating historical fallacies; or causing mismerges; or preventing legible downloads.

Private User
7/16/2014 at 6:27 AM

I'm done - hopefully a solution will come up and I will as always work to have an accurate tree

Private User
7/16/2014 at 11:47 PM

Daniel Jacobus Botes came up with this bit of information which is indicative of how adopted children are handled using DVNs

Adopted children are numbered exactly the same way as if they are biological children, except that the number is placed in brackets.

In this case where Faculyn was adopted by Gous.

b 1 c 7 Andries Stephanus (GOUS)≈ 12.6.1740 x 2.2.1767 Maria Hendrina MULDER (pleegouers v.Andries Stephanus Faculyn, later Gous)

(d1) Andries Carel Eduard Alexander Faculyn * Neuf-Brisach, Elsas, Frankryk 23.3.1782, vertrek saam met sy ouers na Kaap, maar hy kom as weeskind aan, omdat albei sy ouers tydens die reis ter see sterf. Na sy stiefouers se afterwe word hy eienaar v"Kleyne Fontein", dist Clanwilliam, maar woon later "Klaarfontein", Koeberg † c. 1839 # "Langerug", dist Philadelphia x Swartland 13.7.1800 Alida Jacoba MOSTERT †
"Langerug", Swartland 16.5.1848 (66.8.25)
(e1) Andries Stephanus ≈ 14.12.1800, jonk †

Private User
7/17/2014 at 12:24 AM

Which contradicts: "In this system ONLY BLOOD RELATIVES ARE GIVEN NUMBERS, and by that I mean blood relatives of the one person whose descendants we are describing."

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