Curator Notes, Sources, and About Me

Started by Hatte Blejer on partial hiatus on Saturday, May 14, 2011


Profiles Mentioned:

Related Projects:

Showing 1-30 of 46 posts
5/14/2011 at 9:20 AM

Hi all,

Erica "the Disconnectrix" Howton and I were discussing how different the Lees of Virginia were to work on than the families of old New England, for whom there are often many records, especially church records.

The more I read, the more I find controversies about various branches of the family. There may be records for 5 out of 7 children only, but oral or somewhat questionable records for the other 2 children.

Jacqueli Charlene Finley and others as descendants have access to private or paid sources that are similar to the Google eBooks genealogies and New England Historical and Genealogical Society sources that we have for the New England families. But due perhaps to the Civil War, there are a lot more mysteries and controversies about these families.

I would like to discuss how to handle these mysteries and controversies. As curators, we have been asked to document where there are multiple theories about a family and to provide sources for the various hypotheses. That brings me to Curator's Notes, About Me, and attaching sources to the profiles. I believe that this is critical in the case of the Lees, where we do not have multiple sources of indisputable documentation.

So I would respectfully suggest that we make sure to document the cases where there are competing hypotheses with sources and in the Curator's Notes. This will help us and others to keep the tree cleaned up and hopefully prevent future tangles and confusions.

Also, we may want to start a separate discussion listing sources since it is often harder to find sources than in New England.

I'm off for the day, be back later to look at the children of Ann Lee and Thomas Youell. And the grandchildren and possibly great grandchildren.

5/14/2011 at 9:23 AM


I can give you how I approached one lady -- with 5 husbands when we started the cleanup and Hey! could still be true.

Cecily Reynolds

5/14/2011 at 9:35 AM

What a great profile and well written, informative About Me Erica "the Disconnectrix" Howton

5/14/2011 at 12:32 PM

Hatte Blejer on partial hiatus I am trying to add to the sources to Francis and these profiles - but having trouble with them taking - I even tried "create text document" and the same thing (?) I liked how Erica did the sourcing on the above profile and was trying to summarize by category as she did. Is there a trick?

5/14/2011 at 7:44 PM

Hi all, back from a lovely, relaxing Shabbat playing board games.

Jacqueli - you can attach a PDF, a JPG, or point to a link on the Internet. The problem with add document is first it adds it to your document store and then you have to go back into add document and click on it (it will be the top one) and THEN it will be added.

Erica could tell you more, she's wonderful at explaining how to do things on Geni.

I liked how she handled that profile too. A good model for the Lees in that there is less cut and dried documentary evidence for some of the Lees.

5/14/2011 at 7:47 PM

Hatte Blejer on partial hiatus Thanks anyway - I figured it out on my own.

5/14/2011 at 7:49 PM

Wonderful. Was it the add document problem or something else that I need to learn myself?

5/14/2011 at 8:46 PM

Hatte Blejer on partial hiatus Nope - just some doc's are too large of files for the program so had to compress or just go another route. I am sure you already knew it all :)

5/14/2011 at 9:11 PM


Actually Geni keeps enhancing! Working with documents & the WikiMedia formatting for the "overview" was a total PITA. It just keeps getting better though -- they do "stealth releases" just about weekly now.

The pdf size limit is 50 pages. I learned how to separate out pdf's to a single page!

And you should have seen how much I whined when Geni first did WikiMedia. I could not, for the life of me, wrap my mind about it. It was very annoying as I mastered the three basic HTML tags many years ago. :) :)


I can now add document, add to multiple profiles, and cite specific facts in a few minutes. As I said above, Geni's enhancements in that area improve the "user experience" before you know it.

5/14/2011 at 9:14 PM

I don't add large docs. I tried to once and it blew up so I never tried again.

5/14/2011 at 10:05 PM

I caught onto the multiple profiles and how to add the docs. I was trying to figure out how to categorize as you did Erica on the Reynollds profile. I thought Francis Lee would be a good one to start - I wanted to keep just his specs on profile page then add "controversies" as another category, etc. I have just started, but my priority is to straighten out the tree first - and I will add more sourcing as I go. I have limits on how long I can sit in front of the computer w/o discomfort. :(

5/14/2011 at 10:18 PM

So we'll go along with this one Jacqueli as an example.

Trust me, it was a *lot* of trial, effort, frustration and tears to get it figured out.

Eventually the "duh so *that's* how you do it!" kicks in. But give yourself the learning curve.

I would give more "lessons" tonight for you to read over tomorrow (or whenever -- that's one of the advantages of the "discussion" tool) but it's too late at night and I'm too goofy to do it right myself. :) :)

5/14/2011 at 10:28 PM

Now - I am going to go about working on the tree - if you all wish to go over everything ALL of us are doing and backtrack over my work continuously as you have done on Francis - I think it's about time you clue us in on the motive behind scrutinizing my every move. First off - I was going to put all the info back on Francis - but more appropriately - for what was and now is back on there, does not make sense. I have tried to tell Hatte that Edmund Jennings Lee did good research but he did make a lot of mistakes, even the Colonial Dames had a publishing about this in 1924 with the ancestral mistakes he had done on the Smith/Lee line. He made a lot of "perhaps" and assumptions - and genealogy cannot be made on assumptions. The will - does not add up, etc. As curators, you are good at what you do here on geni and have privileges we others do not - and know the software perhaps better than most of us - but over seeing and micro managing are 2 different things - we are doing this because we care - as least I am - and none of us are getting any monetary compensation for our efforts - we do not work for the curators and should not be treated as if we are employees - my meaning behind this project was to get it right - for all of the descendants of the entire Lee lineage and historically correct the ancestry on the line - all leafs, twigs, branches of the tree - and by getting it right is here on geni - there are other sites, archives and outside resources where it is documented right, it is the errors here that concerned me. It should be a team effort - not a power play for whatever reasons - that takes all the good out of the entire concept of the project. So if there are "attitudes" I am just saying shame on you. I know I am not here for this - I am here only to do whats right for my lineage. It is a complicated lineage and I know it is hard to understand all the data and conflicts out there - but all those conflicts are political, and that kind of non-sense should not be taken place here on this project.

5/14/2011 at 10:36 PM


If you noticed I put in the "about me" your info on top, and just reverted the previous info down below so it's not lost. Hope its clear enough - Work In Progress?

Tomorrow when I'm fresher I will work on formatting it properly to reflect the ambiguities and arguments.

My understanding of the lineage of "Lees of Virginia" are that's its so complex, they even made a song about it in the musical "1776." :)

5/14/2011 at 11:07 PM

Erica - that's nice - and I appreciate your effort, but that is what I am talking about - I really don't need you to do the work or finish what I had started... I didn't think any of us were on a time schedule. The only reason why Francis became a controversy and removed temporarily was because when Hatte read Edmund Jennings Lee's research (or lack of findings) and wrote what he presumed (as he had done with others which came out he was wrong) I told her to let me get back to her with more research notes for I did have the info but I wanted to know why. There are so many Lee's I can't just remember everyone at a drop of a hat - I used to be able to do that - but I have limitations now and have just moved - and some of my paperwork and notes are not all in my data libraries - I work with over 25 GEDCOM's from different periods of research - most have been merged into one ( or 2) for primary - but even then, that means I have all the research on the profiles - the old and the new, the theories and the proven, so it takes me a while sometimes to go through the sourcing again, especially in this case, to see the big picture.

I would just appreciate more respect, I am sure when you work on your profiles you would feel the same if you were being micro scoped by others. It takes all the fun out of genealogy and a team effort.

5/14/2011 at 11:33 PM


You know what caught my attention? I've been to Barbados and Jamaica, and slowly, over the months, tried to increase my knowledge of Barbadian (?) (they call it "Bajan" actually I think) genealogy, and the ways that hooks in to Colonial Virginia / Colonial Carolinas.

I even "know of" a Bajan genealogist now. When ready with coherent questions that cannot be answered any other way (not there yet myself) I have someone to email, hopefully.

Ultimately it's the migration patterns that interest me. Well, to be more honest? A good story, preferably with some good visuals too. :) :)

It turns out I'm related to so many families, both Southern side and New England side. For instance, I never even heard of Reynolds. But because of Geni and collaborating on a Geni clean up Project, I found out I have marriage lines in that prove out: I'm a Reynolds both from their New England branch *and* their Virginia branch.

But I can only absorb and concentrate on so much at a time.

What I learned with the Cecily Reynolds profile is to build the known documentation first, find out what various researchers have had to say, weigh in with Geni collaborators, find out what they've learned, and somehow incorporate that into a profile.

It took time. But that we have.

5/14/2011 at 11:39 PM


And I agree -- to me it's about formatting and helping you learn the geni tools. Tomorrow I'll try and put in the WikiMedia "sectioning" tricks I've figured out for my own use (and by borrowing from how other people do it, of course!)

5/15/2011 at 7:13 AM

Erica - Although I can appreciate your views on migration, visiting Jamaica and Barbados (they are beautiful places to visit are they not?) and your interest in trying to "teach" me whatever it is you think I do or do not know - the key here is I believe if I need a curators assistance ie., merging, locking or MP'ing - or if I have a software question - I will ask. I have the documentation, facts, sources already for this project - and the historic line to be honest - and I find that the geni software is pretty easy to use and comprehend - even after all the changes over the years, it has been for the good and I like those changes - I have been on geni for about 4 years, so am familiar with the basics - I am a professional genealogist with over 35 years experience on the Lee line alone - so I do not need a lesson on how to write up a profile - I have taken the suggestions that you and Hatte have given me and when I have tried to implement them, I find that I receive editing immediately from the curators or negative arguments - which I feel are not necessary. I feel that if I ask a curator for help - that is one thing - but if a curator or curators behavior become intrusive - that becomes another issue altogether. Just as the mess Ms K started when the project clean-up began, in reading the curator rules and guidelines, she violated every rule that geni has set forth - yet she is still curating. I do not believe in elitism, and I have found that most users here are very polite in most circumstances in working together (yes-there are a few that have created issues or have bad attitudes, but they are the minority) and I am not saying that you or other curators do not do good work, you do but so do the majority of geni users, and just because everyone doesn't do things in the same way a curator believes it should or shouldn't be done, doesn't mean that necessarily is the right or wrong way to do things - as long as the end result is productive. What isn't productive are the intrusions that are not necessary or unwanted by geni users. I, myself am getting very frustrated on this project alone for the time I could have spent actually working on the profiles instead my time here being dedicated to unnecessary arguments like this or simular discussion threads because of indifference of opinions.

What was working here on this project was when we were working as a team - starting a discussion IF additional information was needed or a issue came up - IF a profile need to be MP'd or locked - the basics as outlined in the guidelines - anything else is non-productive and unwanted if the other project team members do not ask for the assistance. No one likes to be treated dis-respectfully when it comes to their own family tree - I realize my own family tree is a historically significant one, but I still am very personal about it and it is very close to my heart, my relatives, but regardless who my grandparents were and their grandparents, I still deserve the respect that I know my family better than those who just view it as an historic profile. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Now - to refresh everyone's memory about "curators" and helping us geni users and projects:
How Curators Help

Presently what Curators can help you with is:

* "killing zombies" - Zombies are historical profiles that are wrongly marked as living, and thus block merges. Please continue posting these requests in this Public Discussion.
* Make a profile public – if a historical profile is wrongly marked as private, we can ask the system to check if it should be marked public.
* Complete pending merges between any pair of public profiles.
* Designating some profiles as Master Profiles. When you are merging, try to merge into the master profiles. While we are building these there may still be conflicting and unresolved information, but as we make progress with our cleanup, these will become the most accurate and reliable profiles for a given person and should contain all the research material and references and sources.

If you find a duplicate profile that is from a tree that is not yet connected to the "Big Tree", curators most strongly recommend that you always first try and contact the other managers. Besides being the most courteous and respectful option, you will get better and faster results that way (we are a last resort).

Curators also highly recommend that anyone who is serious about merging in the shared parts of our tree join the Collaboration Pool. You will find there about 500+ people, all wanting to help each other out. Read about it, click the Options button (top-right) and request to join the project.

While initially Curators would like to concentrate on cleaning up the shared parts of the historical tree (such as European royalty and nobility prior to about 1600), they can and will assist anywhere needed. Be aware, however, that curators are only able to use their curatorial privileges on public profiles and cannot generally assist with private trees within four generations of a Geni user's claimed profile.

What Curators can’t and will not do is:

* Do your work for you. If you see duplicates in a tree, and can stack them, please do so, before you ask us to complete the merges. Do the maximum that you can. There are 5,000,000 users, and only about 50 Curators... WE need YOUR help at least as much as you need us. This is a team effort.

* Before you ask a curator to merge a "stack" of pending merges, go through the stack yourself and check to see if all of the profiles belong there. If there are pending merges that are clearly incorrect (different names, extremely different dates, and so on), then you should undo that pending merge. If you see pending merges that are correct, and if you have collaboration rights with the managers, then you can make the merges yourself. It is not too hard, and you'll make a huge contribution to the collective efforts. You might find the following guide on how to resolve merge issues useful.

* Most importantly - curators will not force any decisions on anyone. If you have issues with the other manager(s), please try and work them out first.

Post requests for Curators to help in the ATTENTION Curators, please assist discussion.
How You Can Help

Since Geni is a collaborative project, each person makes a significant contribution to the overall effort. We have close to 50 million profiles in the shared historical Big Tree, and you can help to create one unified family tree in the following ways.
Researching and Fact-Checking

* Research and provide documentation for every relationship that you can. If your tree is based on research, then please share that with us all. The biggest problem we face is with people copying trees and GEDCOMs online and then just perpetuating them endlessly, with very few people actually fact-checking. We need fact-checkers! If you can choose one family line at a time and collect as much documentation as you can on that line, your work will be valued and appreciated by all of us using Geni.

Building Solid Profiles

See also Master Profile

* Work hard and take care to make sure that the data fields are as accurate and complete as possible, to the best of your knowledge and based on your best research.

* See our Naming Conventions for how to insert names. Even though Geni provides a space for "Maiden Name," most genealogists and Curators prefer that married women still be listed by their birth name in the main name field rather than their married name, especially for the historical tree. You may use the "Maiden Name" field to duplicate that information or, occasionally, to provide alternate spellings of the name. Be aware that naming conventions are culturally specific and also vary from time period to time period, so if you have questions, it's best to consult a curator who specializes in the culture and/or time period in which you are working.

* A secret tip - the "maiden name" field for men is hidden, but it's there. You may access it by temporarily changing his gender to Female, and then the Maiden Name field will appear. We often use that field for birth names for males as well as for alternate spellings of the name. Be sure to change his gender back to male when you have completed your edit, however!

* The Overview/About Me section is a place to put well-documented information about the person from primary and well-researched (especially scholarly) secondary Sources. Avoid (and delete) references to private websites and your own private Gedcom-notes as "sources" - use Primary Sources and, whenever possible, scholarly articles. A Rootsweb or LDS page is not a "source" - some of these are the cause for some very wrong connections out there. The curators recommend the following for the About Me section:

(1) a basic capsule summary of information at the top/beginning of the section with the preferred name of the person, their parents, spouse(s) and children, and very brief biographical information, *including" any controversies or disagreements (conflicting information) in the sources about them;

(2) quoted material from primary or very reliable secondary sources such as FMG or scholarly books, with reference citations and links to the online references if available;

(3) quoted material and links to wikipedia profiles of the person--in most cases these are accurate, but each curator should evaluate them based on the sources used for the wiki profile, and should make note at the top of the About Me as well as at the beginning of the quoted material if there is conflicting or questionable information.

(4) If there are well-researched other sources, such as material from genealogical societies, primary documents such as deeds, wills, census records, and so on, they should be included too.


Resolving Merge Issues

* Avoid using Tree Matches to merge - most bad errors seem to be initiated by these. If you do use Tree Matches, please make sure that the two profiles are exactly the same, since Geni's matching algorithms frequently suggest matches with people with similar names that are not always the same person. Check the parents, spouse, children, and dates of birth and death to make sure that all are in alignment between the two profiles before you agree to the match.

* There are two stages of merging: creating a pending merge (that is, suggesting that two profiles are for the same person), and completing that merge. See below.

* Stacking (i.e., suggesting merges) is the first step in a two-part merge process. "Stacks" are groups of profiles that have been suggested as being duplicates or for the same person. They are created from Tree View after clicking on the yellow triangle with an exclamation mark inside - this will open up a graphic that allows you to drag and drop profiles you believe to be identical on top of each other, "stacking" them. You may also stack profiles in Tree View by clicking the More field for a person, clicking Move This Person and then, after a rectangular box for that person appears on the right side of your window, dragging and dropping it on top of another profile that you feel is a duplicate and confirming that "They are the same person."

* The second stage in the two-part merge process is to actually merge together the pending merges, one by one, after you have verified that they are correct. Be cautious - this is a big responsibility! Mis-merging two people together who are not the same causes huge problems and is very difficult to fix. When you are in a Profile View, you will see a message near the person's name if there are pending merges waiting to be completed. This will say, "This profile has been linked to another profile pending a merge. View his other profile and complete the pending merge."

When you click on this, you will go to a Compare Profiles view (sometimes called the Carousel in Geni lingo). Open profiles and try to reduce stacks, checking carefully if the profiles stacked are really the same. There are a lot of bad stacks out there with many different people linked to be merged. Unlink and/or ask for help. These "bad stacks" usually lead to a lot more bad linking.

Always open all the profiles involved in a conflict and read the information before linking them to be merged (learn to use multiple tabs if you don't already). Be aware that often, the pageview comparing two profiles in a pending merge is NOT providing you with all the information about the person from that profile, and so if you do not see a parent listed, for example, you need to open the profile in a new tab to make sure that the parent listed matches the parent in the other profile.

* Be very careful when linking profiles to be merged. The wrong merges and errors happening out there are absolutely incredible ...

* Curators are able to merge any two public profiles, so we would like for you to merge as many duplicates as possible and then you can leave the rest for us. The more collaborators you have, the more profiles you will be able to merge, so it's to your benefit to join the Collaborator's Pool (see Public Discussions).

Resolving Conflicting or Missing Data

* First, see note above about the importance of good research. If in doubt, look it up. If the information is not already in the profile or the About Me section (or attached as documentation), then please add it.

* Read our Naming Conventions, and leave Name conflicts to Curators/main managers. If a name looks strange to you, you might want to ask why instead of changing it. Remember that names should generally be kept in the original language of the person being profiled, so please do not change the profile names to your own native language just for your convenience.

* Conflicting data? Normally, keep data from Main or Master Profile when merging, except when you find a more specific date or location in another profile (for example, if the Main Profile says birth was in France but another source provides the city and department). If you come across conflicting dates or locations for birth, death or burial, and if you cannot find the correct information out from a research source, then do not just delete the alternate information--please include it as a note in the About Me section so that it might later be resolved.

* Multiple parents for a profile? The secret is to clean up as much as possible (for example, if there are multiple parents who are the same persons) by going to View Tree and clicking the little yellow triangle in the lower left of the person's rectangular name box, and then dragging and dropping the duplicates on top of each other (this process is called "stacking" in Geni lingo). Then click "continue" and follow directions to approve the tree.

If there are incorrect or conflicting parents, you can go back (still in Tree View) and click the yellow triangle again and after you click Continue, you may get a choice of which parents are correct. If there is only one correct set, please choose it. If there are lots of multiples of the same parents, then first it's best to go back to their profiles and try to merge them so you don't cut any loose. If you get a message that you cannot choose those parents because it will break the tree, then that's when you refer the problem to a Curator or a Pro user with lots of merging experience, since we can use our Pro and Curator tools to remove the incorrect parents.

* Read and start Public Discussions for profiles where there are questions about connections etc. A lot of the time somebody can help. (Tip: Place profile names/areas etc in Topic, not just "Who are the parents?" - that way we know what area you are talking about without everyone having to read everything.)

* Look for and respect the occasional "Work in progress" messages from Curators for some difficult areas - we're doing our best to fix these. They are temporary :-). Similarly, you may come across Master Profiles that are "locked" so that only curators may edit them. These are rare but necessary in cases in which the relationships surrounding a profile are really in a mess and/or for people who are frequently mis-merged with others who have similar names.

* Tell Curators what areas you are or will be working on to avoid chaos caused by several people involved in the same lines simultaneously. This is important for the "busy" lines of the tree only, i.e where there are many managers and errors/issues.

* Stick to areas that you know very well, and start reading/studying before entering a "new" area - educate yourself! :-)

5/15/2011 at 11:25 AM

Hi Jacqueli

I very much agree with you. My only goal was to ensure that possibly valuable data was not lost.

Now this is something I did today on a separate project that may address the formatting and upload document questions that came up.

Walter Woodworth, of Scituate

Take a look and ask away anything that isn't self evident. I clearly have more work to do around there too so go easy on me.

5/15/2011 at 12:02 PM

Erica - thank you for understanding and sharing your work. :)

Private User
5/15/2011 at 12:48 PM

How does one edit multiple profiles at once? Is there a way other than opening each in a different tab? It's a real PITA to try to add sources (census info, for instance) to a husband, wife, and eight children /ack

5/15/2011 at 1:06 PM

It is now easy!

You edit the document, not the profile. Tip: FIRST go view all the profiles you want the document to be on, or put a "follow" on the profiles if you don't have it already.

Then I do this.

1. Sources tab
2. Add source (right hand button)
3. Add a New Document (lower left button)
4. Three tabs: Upload from your computer / Post a new link / Create a New Document
5. Choose file / hyperlink / name text document
6. Upload documents (big blue button)
7. (wait patiently for PDF documents to upload - status is in lower left corner)
8. "Edit" button
9. People box - type a first or last name

I haven't checked how many can be added at once - a real super user, not a fake like me, can do many many. I confine myself to around 6 at most or I get myself confused for the next step, or "citing" facts on all those profiles.

Try it and let me know any place you get stuck.

5/15/2011 at 1:33 PM

I did that the other day with the book my ggg-aunt wrote "Threads of Gold" and attached it to 5 (I think) profiles - it does make it a lot easier!
What I found that only about 5-6 gens (from memory) came up - to adding.

5/15/2011 at 1:42 PM

I'm not sure the "add profiles" dialog in geni is based on anything so logical as "generations" :) I *think* it "remembers" from last viewed, or how many profiles you have "followed."

Oh another tip: I keep the original source document in another window when I'm "citing facts." Otherwise it's hard to view.

But that's a big improvement over 20 windows!

Private User
5/15/2011 at 2:05 PM

Wow, thanks, you two! This is going to make a big diff, I really appreciate it! (The two of you could kick some serious genealogy-butt on the same team, gggg)

5/15/2011 at 2:06 PM

We expect great things from you now Jennifer.

Be sure and show off your profiles. I might be getting really weird or something but I actually clap at a well done profile now.

Private User
5/15/2011 at 2:12 PM

Toooo funny, Erica! I love that image! Try the two that have made MP so far:

Leona Stenner
Charles Robertson Forbes,Sr.

This is the next one I'll put up for consideration, but I'm not done yet:


I've been at a real disadvantage with documentation cause I didn't have a scanner, but my darling cousin just sent me one a few days ago! So now I'm gonna be scanning like a fiend and can upload a whole lot of source material. Clap away, my friend, clap away! /grin

5/15/2011 at 2:30 PM

Did you write those biographies?

I would say more but I'm too busy turning green.

5/15/2011 at 2:31 PM

As in green with envy.

Spectacular. Breathtaking. I'm going to go beat up Jenna for stealing them from me.

5/15/2011 at 2:37 PM

Very nice Jennifer!!!!!! I am impressed too, beautiful photo's!

Showing 1-30 of 46 posts

Create a free account or login to participate in this discussion