In response to Eldon: there is a value in knowing someone is deceased, even if you don't know when they died. It's a useful piece of information. A bit like it being useful to know someone marrried or divorced, even if you don't know the date of the event.
But in the wider context, I did send a message through Geni to Noah Tutak outside this public discussion, trying to work out what this zombie hunt and kill was really all about. What I took away from that discussion was that:
1. From the point of view of access to profiles (to edit or merge), what really counts at the moment is not whether the profile is deceased or alive, but rather whether it is public or private.
2. Marking profiles correctly as deceased or live helps improve the overall data accuracy of Geni, and helps with tree matches.
But this to me didn't seem to be enough to justify a zombie hunt.
Some further comments from Noah added more illumination for me, and maybe for others too. Hence I post them here, given that the discussion here has now shifted to encompass discussion about the zombie hunt, and not just a forum for listing Zombies.
Below here are Noah's words not mine. Noah I trust you don't mind me posting this for public discussion: the information seemed to be relevant to all and non-confidential:
1. From Noah Tutak - 1 June 2010
Great question David. What happened was that when we implemented the new privacy rules, with public and private profiles, we automatically converted all historical profiles to public so that collaborators could edit and merge them. One of the criteria we used to determine whether or not to convert a profile to public was whether it was living or deceased. We did not convert any living profiles to public.
As a result, any historical profiles that were incorrectly marked as living were not converted to public. These pockets of private profiles make it very difficult to clean up certain parts of the tree. So you are correct, marking them as deceased is really just a way of finding the ones that should be public.
I should also note that marking these profiles as (correctly) deceased does also improve the data and ensure that they appear as matches on any duplicate profiles that may exist.
2. From Noah Tutak - 2 June 2010
Many users have expressed the desire to be able to protect the privacy of close relatives that are deceased, such as immediate family members. However, going forward we are going to more strongly enforce the rule that all deceased profiles without a manager that is a close relative should be public.
We are also working on a way to let users give access to view and edit each other's private profiles without exposing their personal information.
David, I am certain that I caused a lot of zombies when i uploaded my GEDCOM. None of the genealogy programs that I have used over the last twenty or so years makes any distinction about living or dead unless you privatize the file. Then it assumes anyone after a certain generation is living unless there is a death date. This I believe is standard genealogy practice. I think that for ease of use Geni lets too many things be entered wrong without warning of possible errors. You should never enter a married name for a woman for example. Also there is a big problem with royalty (another subject I know) Their should be a separate entry for Titles and AKAs as well as 1st 2nd 3rd etc Probably to late to correct now but the options should be there.
Eldon, thanks for this illumination. Everything you say in this last post makes a lot of sense to me. You obviously have a lot more experience and know a lot more about genealogy programs than I do. That's not too difficult - Geni is the only such program I have ever used.
I believe that one key difference between Geni and other genealogy programs is that Geni is a mass-market online collaboration effort that seeks to encourage, besides the pros, novices with no history or knowledge of genealogy or of genealogy programs. People like me really.
The people behind Geni are clearly still making up the rules for how this whole thing should work - witnessed by changes in privacy rules not so long back, the sudden Zombie hunt, and the indication by Noah of changes coming in the public vs private nature of deceased profiles.
Perhaps Geni has made mistakes in its design, and perhaps some of those will change? I would think that the experience of people like you should be valuable in shaping the future Geni.
The software that you can download at http://www.myheritage.com/family-tree-builder has a tool that alows you to check for deceased people, it then shows you a list of the people it thinks is deceased and will mark them automaticly for you wether it 1 or 200000 people all at once. Of course if you already uploaded it it's to late. But just in case you have anoyher GENCOM to upload.
It also has a place to check deceased
In any other program just put a "Y" in the place of death or the cause of death and the program will mark it as deceased since there's info in the death portion.
For a women only enter a married name if it is not the same as the husbands. Mordern women sometime use both E.G. Jane Smith marred Ed Gottfield and uses the legal name of Jane Smith-Gottfied instead of Gottfried alone.
Some programs alow AKA other you have to just add it as a fact.
So much for making something hard that seems so easy.
Marvin, Thanks for the info. Never to late to learn<G>. I looked at my heritage but didn't care for it. Just a personal preference. I understand what you are saying about married names and modern usage but we are talking about past usage and historical records. Anyone can use any name they wish to in real life unless there is intent to defraud.
Marvin, I have not looked at any new documents, birth certificates etc, but They are what most genealogists go by. Of course there are almost always exceptions to the rules, but they are exceptions. My point with Geni is that they almost encourage improper entry of names by defaulting to the husbands last name. Other examples are when someone does not know a name and so enters Mr. or Mrs John Doe. Better to leave it blank than enter it incorrectly. Much easier for someone who knows the answer to correct it that way.
Russell Varcoe Yes, please report if the initial script didn't work. Make sure you mention that it is a repost. I'll try the script on some other profiles in the vicinity.