Cross posting from the Geni Blog (http://blog.geni.com/2010/09/building-our-shared-family-tree-.html):
"Our mission is to solve the problem of genealogy (the question of how everyone is related) by creating a family tree of the whole world." - Geni CEO David Sacks, January 12, 2007, days before Geni launched to the public.
The goal of Geni has always been to create a shared family tree, so our users around the world can meet new cousins and discover how they relate to historical figures and celebrities. Recently we've taken some steps that have moved us significantly towards this goal.
First, we introduced the new Merge Center, a package of enhancements designed to make merging faster and easier. Since we released the Merge Center, the number of profiles merged every week has almost doubled, and continues to grow.
Then we introduced Curators, a group of users selected by the Geni community to improve and maintain the accuracy of the historical parts of the shared tree. Curators are able to merge and update any public profile. This small group has spent countless hours correcting mistakes and consolidating duplicate branches of the shared tree.
Today we are announcing the next step towards our goal of creating the single most accurate and comprehensive family tree anywhere - Master Profiles. A Master Profile is the standard profile for a given person. Over time, as our Curators and other Geni users continue their work, you will find that Master Profiles are the most comprehensive and accurate profiles for each person. Other profiles for the same person are secondary and should eventually be merged into the Master Profile.
So what does this mean for you? Over the next few months, you should notice the benefits from these and other projects we are working on. The historical parts of your tree will continue to improve in accuracy and completeness. If you are actively working on your tree, please continue to do so. If everyone works on their part of the tree, we'll all have a rich, shared family tree before we know it.
If you aren't yet part of the "big tree" of over 45 Million profiles, keep checking your Merge Center for new Tree Matches and Profile Merges that may connect you. And if you're looking to get more engaged in the Geni community, Public Discussions are a great place to start.
Example of a master profile, also with a curator note: Harald I "Fairhair", king of Norway
Martin Severin Eriksen is the curator who is assigned to clean up the Benkestok and other Norwegian lines between the viking ages and now.
The main problem with Benkestok is the many variations/errors in the sources, also reflected in the tree, especially for those who have used Wilhelmine Brandt's book "Slægten Benkestok" as a source, so I guess that Martin Severin Eriksen will use master profiles, and even locking profiles to avoid these errors to happen again.
To a certain extent your question is historically specific, as there are different issues / sources when working in Biblical times as opposed to 1850's Texas.
We are working towards a standard "top of the overview" tab "template" that would look like this:
For the United States, source documents as attachments such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, draft cards, census reports, wills ... and we need a field for land records.
This is an example of a "historical profile" I am particularly fond of and someday hope to prove my own connection to:
Erica, I guess my interests are more in Texas than in Prague. I'm specifically interested in how people are using source documents, the descriptive fields associated with source documents (document description, date and location), and what they are doing vis-a-vis tagging people and linking events and facts to source documents.
I must confess that I'm a bit unclear about the "overview tab template" that you described. What is the intent there?
Think of "overview" as the summary information. It includes vital statistics at a glance such as in a family website, but also moves on to biographical discussions, "family stories," and arguments for the genealogical conclusions reached. It is a rich narrative field that can be empty or detailed, but without a "story" behind the facts, I lose interest personally.
I've asked other curators to post links from varying points in history of good master profiles, and I'll find you one of my own from mid 19th century America (not sure I have a good Texas one).