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Contributor's lament

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This wikia used to have lots of potential. It could have been a wonderful web-site for genealogists to visit. A few years ago, it seemed like the perfect place to come to write a short paragraph or two about an ancestor you've been researching--a central location to disseminate information for other researchers. Easy to use, and free of administrative prodding.

Sad to see that it has become congested with layers of clever little "short-cuts" and FORMS!!! Man, I hate forms. If I enjoyed filling out forms, I would be working for an insurance company or the IRS.

What is the net result of contributors who use these forms? A web-site filled with over 82,000 articles mostly of empty boxes. True, there are a handful of excellent articles with good substance and with all the technological bells and whistles. But just take a few clicks on "Random Pages" and you'll get a taste of what many of the articles on this web-site have to offer.

It seems to me that most users who start out using FORMS end up with incomplete information. The articles look unfinished. Obviously, they don't take the time to fill out the whole form. And who could blame them? My eyes would glaze over the minute I had to enter all that information. Even then, the "finished" article looks more like a list rather than a well-written document.

It used to be simple. Put double brackets around a person's name, save, click on it and "viola" a brand new blank page would appear for you to start afresh. You could write a paragraph now, then come back a few days later and add some more. It's like a painter with a blank canvas, free to create. But with FORMS it is more like... paint-by-number. You are forced to conform to the same exact format everyone else has to use.

Are the administrators concerned we won't be able to properly connect our grandfather to our great-grandfather or their descendants? Does Mr. Patterson have to micro-manage every contribution because he thinks he is the only one who knows how genealogy is done? A little short sighted on his part. Give us the freedom to create and you will likely see better articles by more and more contributors who are happy to be here.

Mr. Patterson once wrote that using these forms and info boxes will "save a lot of typing." But I would like to know who's typing is he trying to save? Now he is stuck with glitches he doesn't even know how to fix on this technologically over-driven wikia. Bravo, Mr. Patterson. The apology on the main page says it all. TreeGenea3 08:05, September 7, 2010 (UTC)

Your typing time is saved. For the same amount of typing, you get more information displayed. Then, in the infobox, click a parent's link (which the software created without making you type double brackets) to create a new page, and you don't get a blank page, you get a page with a good proportion of the essential data (first and last names and names of spouse and child) already there, not needing retyping or even pasting (and you get headings too, without typing or pasting). Create a "/tree" subpage with a few clicks and get five generations of ancestors displayed. Have you looked at Charlemagne/tree lately? Not at all bad for software you don't have to pay a cent for. Then there are "concepts" and the inline queries function; have a look at Semantic MediaWiki/demo query-subquery, for example. Better than RootsWeb, though not such a large database YET. And I don't mind micromanaging pages to help others get the best out of it all. (If you want a page of yours left alone, put a request on its talk page.)
You are encouraged but never compelled to use the forms. You can do things the old way: "Put double brackets around a person's name, save, click on it and [voila] a brand new blank page would appear for you to start afresh. You could write a paragraph now, then come back a few days later and add some more" - but do you know what that leads to (at least initially)? Let me quote you again: People who do that "end up with incomplete information. The articles look unfinished. Obviously, they don't take the time to fill out" all the data they have. Use of our form prompts contributors to add most of the genealogical data they have (unless it's data they don't want in the article) at the first time of writing. Less need to go back to fill gaps.
Statistics show that we are getting "articles by more and more contributors who are happy to be here".
Robin Patterson (Talk) 15:34, September 7, 2010 (UTC)
I hate forms too. I never use them here. rtol 20:13, September 7, 2010 (UTC)

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