Move Ethnicity to the Basics Tab?

Started by Pamela Anne Moore on Friday, April 1, 2011


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4/1/2011 at 3:41 PM

I did not find a previous discussion by searching for this, so......

I find it a little odd that the ethnicity of a person is not on the Basics tab and required information. It seems to me that is almost as basic as gender.

I would also like to see it as a standardized field. Currently about half of my profiles are listed as "White," and the other half are listed as "White/Caucasian."

Same for Country of Birth and Current Location - half US and half USA.

Also an issue with Religion - Christian-Protestant and just Protestant.

Maybe it's just my OCD, but it messes up my Statistics page! Some of it is my fault for not recognizing the issue when I started adding people, and I am slowly but surely going back and making them all uniform, but it's kind of a pain. (I've already made a suggestion that we should be able to change fields for multiple profiles from one page. Yes, I know there is Quick Edit, but you still have to do each person individually.)

I didn't want to submit this as a suggestion if no one else cares!


4/1/2011 at 5:48 PM

I had the same intentions as you (statistics) in mind when I opened up the big can of worms named "ethnicity" for discussion once here on Geni. Trust me, the matter of ethnicity is not something "basic" in any way or form and can be a very unpleasant topic to pursue. No matter how good the intentions, prepare for unforseen consequences.

As for the other stuff, I'd say go for it and set up the suggestions.

4/1/2011 at 10:30 PM

Yikes! I'm definitely not trying to start trouble! It does just seem incredibly messy to let people type in whatever they want (in any field) and then try to make some sense out of it statistically. If it wasn't a graph on the statistics page I might never have given it a second though!

I get 7 choices for eye color and 8 choices for hair color. I really don't care how many choices they put for any field or where they put it, but it would make more sense to have them standarized. If they have an "Other" choice maybe that could open a free text box.

Political views and religion aren't controversial? I have one person who put "Everyone's Shady" for their political vew! It's funny, but probably not very useful.

I also looked up the word ethnicity just to be sure I am using it correctly:

"Identity with or membership in a particular racial, national, or cultural group and observance of that group's customs, beliefs, and language."

Would the term "Race" be less controversial? I guess I assumed that's what they were asking for in that field -- my mistake. I thought it was just another field to add a fact to for comparison with other profiles and for statistics.I guess if people put in green or Martian that does make it easier to weed out fake profiles!

I think it was the options you have when you cite a source that made me think race/ethnicity is something that should be on the basic tab -- however, nicknames and occupation are not on the basic tab either.

Well, if anyone is offended or feels like I am opening up a can of worms, I apologize -- that is definitely NOT my intention! I was just looking for simplicity and uniformity.

There has been some mention of the accepted "rules" for genealogy in other discussions (maiden names and capitalization of surnames are two I have followed) -- what are the accepted rules in this case?

There are just so many profiles where it's a name, date of birth, and date of death. (If that much.) They never go beyond the basic tab. For me it's all the details, documents, pictures, etc. that make this really interesting.

And finally, if someone feels the need to have Klingon on the list I would understand that because I would want Vulcan! Live long and prosper. ;-)

4/2/2011 at 2:19 AM

Yes my goal is to represent the rainbow of ethnicities within my family group.

Not sure it should go to the "basics" tab because as Olav points out, it's actually a sophisticated question. But the goal of enriching the data to get at what's actually interesting about an ancestor -- and standardize the data entry so it can appropriately graphed and charted -- is so well taken.

I think we need to do a Project on this one to obtain community buy in and input. Maybe we can get a couple more curators involved.

Hey if we can endure "naming wars" we should be able to come up with "let's use the language used by the US Census" (and other countries their censuses).

4/2/2011 at 6:27 AM

That sounds like a great idea to me! I was thinking about the US Census too, I just didn't get around to putting that part in.

Maybe it would even be a good idea to have two blanks. One for the standard or traditional race names used on official documents (in a drop-down menu - limited choices!) and another for people to describe the group they feel they belong in.

When I first put my Dad in I put German in ethnicity. Then I later decided (after paying more attention to the statistics page) that I should just use a more simple entry and mine are all now White/Caucasian. That and I know we have some Irish and English back there somewhere, but I haven't gotten that far in my research, so what would I put in the rest of them?

And, back to the screen used to cite documents -- when I started adding things like census records I realized that although the document might show a race/ethnicity I had never put it in the person's profile and would have to go back and add it. That was my rationale behind having something on the basic tab. (Less work!)

I also went back and looked at my statistics and originally only about 10% of my family group had an ethnicity entered. Doesn't do much good if you don't put anything in it!

Feel free to copy and paste my comments if you start a Project!

4/2/2011 at 7:42 AM

White/Caucasian as an ethnic group may have some meaning in US, but is nonsense in Europe.
According to official opinion of EU, expressed in Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin there are no races - "The European Union rejects theories which attempt to determine the existence of separate human races. The use of the term "racial origin" in this Directive does not imply an acceptance of such theories."
That idea belongs to a different world (or universe) than the American one of having black and white racial/ethnic groups.
So I agree with Olav - there is nothing "basic" about it.

4/2/2011 at 7:49 AM

And hence the argument for complexity and *not* the "basics" tab. :) A very good point Vaike!

What should we name the Project? I would love international input.

I'm thinking we need to go in a couple of directions:

1. Define need / usage (for example -- "for display in Statistics;" "for display in Family Group events;" etc.)
2. Rationalize / normalize naming conventions (for users, by users).
3. Identify any Geni application gaps.
4. Come up with "standards" that work internationally.
5. Raise any application enhancements to Geni via their Help platform.

But first steps is good naming for the Project ... taking suggestions!

4/3/2011 at 11:15 PM

Sounds like a really good start Erica!

I was only going by personal experience and what we use in the USA. So how do you identify yourself with a certain group in Europe and other countries?

Going back to the definition I looked up:

"Identity with or membership in a particular racial, national, or cultural group and observance of that group's customs, beliefs, and language."

And without doing a bunch of research (it's past my bedtime!) before I ask this question:

Without labeling people as black, white, or whatever, how are the new DNA tests classifying people?

Okay, I had to look:

"Autosomal DNA testing purports either to determine the "genetic percentages" of a person's ancestry from particular continents/regions or to identify the countries and "tribes" of origin on an overall basis."

I didn't read it all in depth yet, but if there are going to be scientifically accepted terms thanks to DNA, maybe we should look in that direction. It wasn't as pricey looking as I had expected and I have a feeling that DNA testing will become as common as knowing your blood type in the (near) future.

Mabye Geni could hook up with a company and offer discounted DNA testing? (And a way to enter it in your profiles?)

And we still need to get people to fill in the blanks.....

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