FamilySearch Wiki:Purpose, Policies, and Procedures

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What the Wiki is[edit | edit source]

The FamilySearch Research Wiki is a free, online genealogical guide created and maintained by FamilySearch, a non-profit organization. The Wiki provides links to genealogy databases, websites, resources, research strategies, and genealogical guidance to assist in the search for your ancestors. Wiki articles include locality pages for countries around the world that point to topic pages which include pertinent genealogy record types explaining how to use the record, what it contains, and how/where to find it.

Who Maintains the Wiki[edit | edit source]

The Research Wiki is operated and maintained by FamilySearch to specifically benefit users of the FamilySearch Historical Records collections and provide genealogical information to the public. When the Research Wiki first went online in 2008 there was very little structure in place to guide content creation and format of contributions. Over the years frequent testing has proved that users desire a similar experience from page to page. To facilitate a good user experience guidelines and templates have been created to standardize pages to ensure a uniform look and feel which promote the FamilySearch brand. To this end, FamilySearch reserves the right to make the final decision regarding content and structure of all contributions.

FamilySearch appoints select volunteers to update content, patrol edits, and to perform other specific tasks necessary to support the increasing amount of content in the Research Wiki. Members of the genealogical community are welcome to add and update content by either editing the Wiki directly or submitting information to FamilySearch.

While FamilySearch strives to present accurate information constantly changing laws, rules regarding record access, and other circumstances make it impossible to ensure all content is current. Please refer to the Terms of Use for more information.

FamilySearch determines the structure and layout of related pages in the Wiki including country, county, topic, etc.

Content Allowed in the Wiki[edit | edit source]

  • Links to free and subscription websites regarding genealogy databases, records, images, websites, research strategies, repositories, archives, government agencies, finding aids to other collections, or anything else helpful to a user to locate their ancestors
  • Genealogical research strategies and guidance
  • Instructions on how to find, use and analyze records that are genealogically useful
  • Historical definitions of legal terminology, occupations, and other historic information useful to genealogists
  • Images: Includes samplings of genealogical records, images of historical interest, also current and historical maps

Final determination about the appropriateness of content rests with FamilySearch. As we cannot foresee all possible future developments on the Wiki, FamilySearch reserves the right to modify the list of approved content without notice. The Manual of Style gives guidelines for appropriate content and design of pages and information.

Research Wiki Page Types[edit | edit source]

  • Locality pages: containing information about records, historical background, strategies and topics specific to that location in discovering records about ancestors. This may include all jurisdictions, including countries, states, counties, parishes, provinces, departments, etc.
  • Historical Records Collection pages: explaining the scope of the collection and examples of relevant information contained therein
  • Guided Research project: maintained solely by FamilySearch to assist researchers starting research in a locality
  • Libraries and FamilySearch Affiliate Library Wiki pages
  • FamilySearch Family History Center/Library Wiki pages: for more information regarding what is allowed on a center/library Wiki page, go to: Help:Updating a Family History Page.
  • Genealogical and historical society pages
  • Finding Aids: Articles which are finding aids to collections that exist wholly or in part on other websites.
  • Surname pages:
    • What is appropriate: an article that applies to an entire culture and not a single surname; and addresses a need for the entire diaspora, especially those that are removed from their homeland by 2 or more generations. For languages that use a non-Roman alphabet, a list of surnames with their transliteration in English is appropriate.
    • What is not appropriate: an article devoted to a single surname or first name. Although helpful for genealogical research, the Research Wiki is not intended to become a dictionary of names. In the same line of reasoning, the Research Wiki is not a dictionary of place names. We recognize the value and expertise that other organizations and websites provide on these topics.

Wiki Content Policies[edit | edit source]

  • Creative Common License: Written content in the Wiki is under Creative Commons license. Exceptions include some FamilySearch images that are copyrighted. Be sure to view the license attached to any FamilySearch images before using or sharing to avoid violating copyright laws.
  • Neutral Point of View: The Wiki is written from a neutral point of view representing fair and without bias all significant views of family history and related topics that have been published by credible sources.

Non-English Languages in the Wiki[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch has 11 individual language Wikis:

When approved by the FamilySearch Research Wiki Executive Council, non-English language Wiki pages not included in the above list can be added to the English Wiki. Creation of non-English language Wiki pages in the English Wiki shall be overseen by the Wiki Executive Council. There must be an English version of the page in the English Wiki. The currently approved languages in the English Wiki are:

  • Indonesian
  • Mongolian
  • Norwegian

To request adding a non-English Wiki page to the English Wiki, please contact us at: [email protected].

Content Not Allowed in the Wiki[edit | edit source]

The following shall not be included in the Wiki:

  1. Discussions of religion, politics, ethnicity, culture, and history except in relation to family history research and record keeping.
  2. Images and files of record sets of source documents except when showing sample documents, especially associated with Historical Records collections.
  3. Biographical information about an individual, unless it's used to describe a record or used in a case study to illustrate a research process or principle.
  4. Information about fictional people, places, or things.
  5. Lists or compilations of genealogical information about individuals, families, and names.
  6. Data sets and genealogical records, such as obituaries, military histories, or transcriptions of record sources.
  7. Catalogs or lists of holdings of a family history centers. If your center has a PDF listing of its holdings, it can be uploaded to the Wiki and a linked to on your FHC Wiki page.
  8. Lists of individuals in index form or a repository of individual information.
  9. Individual Wiki pages for specific names, or variants. This information is appropriate on Personal Names pages for the respective country.
  10. Personal points of view, opinions, editorials, arguments, testimonials or stories of research experiences.
  11. Advertising, reviews of products or services, or linking to websites where the product can be purchased.
  12. Linking to a subscription website is acceptable inasmuch as the link does not prompt the user to subscribe.
  13. Books, periodicals, and other publications should be linked to WorldCat, HathiTrust, Google Books, or other catalogs and not to websites that sell the publication.
  14. Links to virtual meetings, such as Zoom, are not allowed. Instead provide contact information to request a meeting link.
  15. Edit wars and fighting over competing viewpoints.
  16. Profanity or profane slang in any form or language.
  17. Poems, speeches, or other narrative text.
  18. Holidays and family traditions. Those which affect family history records or research methods are allowed under specific countries/localities.
  19. Religious doctrine or advocacy, or criticism of religious practices.
  20. Doctrine and practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is inappropriate to include this information in family history center/libraries Wiki pages.
  21. Internal policies or contact information of FamilySearch International.
  22. Contact information for business affiliates of FamilySearch International.
  23. Criticism of FamilySearch or any of its business operations.

Final determination about the appropriateness of content rests with FamilySearch. As we cannot foresee all possible future developments on the Wiki, FamilySearch reserves the right to modify the list of approved content without notice.

What You Agree to by Using the Wiki[edit | edit source]

  • When you edit the Wiki, you agree to abide by the FamilySearch Terms of Use: Conditions of Use
  • FamilySearch Terms of Use require contributors not to use the Wiki as a forum for conjecture, gossip, or debate about the priorities, motives, processes, policies, or competence of FamilySearch or its personnel. These activities fall outside of the scope and use of this site and may result in loss of contributor privileges.
  • System notifications from the Wiki: You may receive email notifications from the Wiki concerning watched pages, messages left in your user talk page, and when your Wiki editing role changes. Use the instructions found in the Notifications Wiki page to change your notification preferences.

Contributor Expectations[edit | edit source]

We anticipate contributors will add relevant content to the Wiki pages they edit.

Behaviors Not allowed[edit | edit source]

  • Soliciting feedback or collecting suggestions regarding the development of products.
  • Using bots, or programs that update pages automatically, without prior consent from FamilySearch management.
  • Posting copyrighted material.
  • Reverting edits on any page more than three times within 24 hours. Doing so may lead to an administrator revoking or limiting contributor privileges.
  • Anything that is added, removed, or changed in the Wiki that is an attempt to compromise the integrity of the Wiki is vandalism and will be rectified and may include loss of editing privileges.

Users who fail to obey policy or do not follow the FamilySearch Terms of Use will be blocked from contributing to the Wiki. This includes disruptive users, those who deliberately fan controversy, or who maliciously attack members of the community, community standards, or FamilySearch in Wiki pages or User pages. Loss of editing privileges may be temporary or permanent as determined by FamilySearch.

Disputes Between Contributors Regarding Editing and Behavior[edit | edit source]

  • Disputes between members. When disputes arise between community members they are strongly encouraged to talk together and resolve their differences without using mediation or arbitration.
  • Mediation. A process available on request when disputes between members cannot be resolved on their own.
  • Arbitration. The Wiki Governance Council will form the Arbitration Board. Arbitration is needed when disputes about user conduct are reported. The decisions made by the Arbitration Board are final. However, a community member may appeal to the Arbitration Board for decisions on deletions of content, blocking or banning.