Forums: Index > Watercooler > Famous people

How much copying from Wikipedia?

I've noticed that pages such as William I, King of England (1027-1087) provides his vital statistics, children, marriages, etc. Then, on Charlemagne, a lot of his biographical information is from Wikipedia. I suggest, that for famous people, such as Monarchs, Presidents, and other people who have their own Wikipedia articles should only have their vital statistics, marriages, children, etc. Those who edit such articles on Wikipedia, such as adding new information etc. to the biography would be very difficult to update here. This way, here at the Genealogy Wikia all we have to do as list their vitals, marriages, children, etc. and a link to the Wikipedia biography. This way, updating their biographical information won't be so difficult, since those at Wikipedia are already adding the latest updates. The use of these people's articles here can be for a quick reference of their vitals, marriages, children, link to Wikipedia biography, and to link them to those who are not notable enough for Wikipedia. Any thoughts? -AMK152(TalkContributions 02:37, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

Good subject for discussion! - here are my first thoughts:
If we take anything substantial from the WP article, it's easiest to take the lot. Has several advantages, including categories that we want and categories we hadn't thought of but can probably make good use of, and probably family trees for some (which we can now display since we are copying the WP templates too).
Once the page is copied, then we can (and I think I've done this occasionally) trim off the material that's of no genealogical interest - but who's to say what a direct descendant finds to be of no interest?
Wikia Management doesn't mind how much good textual material we have here - it helps bring people here via the search engines.
On your point about "updating their biographical information won't be so difficult" - because we link to the WP article, any of our readers who want to see the latest WP updates can go straight to the article (irrespective of how much or little info our article has); I don't think you meant "updating" unless you think the "vitals" etc are likely to change.
Anyone's welcome to add pages for people we don't have, with just "their vitals, marriages, children, link to Wikipedia" - but some of us may want more and may add it.
Robin Patterson 15:05, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
In general, I'd rather see articles from the Wikipedia that are of real use, copied to this site, and modified to fit genealogical purposes. Usually, that's met with the Wikipedia article, but not always. There are usually certain points of emphasis that are of importance to genealogists that the rest of the world would be understandably bored by. For example, documenting certain bits of information. ---Perhaps most genealogists are bored by that as well, but its critical to good work to do so---and citing the Wikipedia as the source of information doesn't count for much. That's sort of the equivalent of "I got this from looking at court records in various counties, as well as other information I found". Very helpful that. The Wikipedia is usually quite good, and I rely on it a fair bit, but its purposes are not our purposes, and our needs are not its needs. So there's a justification for a separate article here.
Such local articles probably won't be updated quite as regularly as they might, but as Robin says, if someone doesn't think its been properly updated, then they can have at it themselves. Bill 20:50, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, Bill, a distinctly different article eventually, but it need not start its "separate" life different. No matter how much or how little we copy from WP, the original could be updated seconds later. I believe in copying the whole article now, with the links to the original page and its history sitting there in the acknowledgment template for any interested reader to follow. (Then we genealogize it.) Robin Patterson 12:00, 17 October 2007 (UTC)


Consider an alternative. You really don't need to take folks out of the context of the wiki site, the main motivation appears to be that there is so much biographical information that it can swamp the genealogical info. I strongly buy the proposition that WP articles are a great starting point for telling the story of a particular figure- that genealogy is not just about the statistics of who begat whom, when they were born, married and died.

Other sites use tabbing interfaces to keep the information density, but prevent it from overwhelming the user. There have been a total of two uses of the Template:Tabs on person articles since it appeared last april. My intention is to include it as part of a standard artice template- eg. it would be great for gedcom imported trees so that I could stick the generated ancestry tree on a separate tab and not have the info clutter up the body of the article.

I have revamped the William I, King of England (1027-1087) article as an illustration of what I am talking about. If anyone has any input, let me know. Instructions to the Template:tabs person template may be found on that page. This template is revamped for automatic operation (it has defaults, skinable colours and is low bother- you don't have to fiddle with declaring what page you are on as with the old tabs template.) ~ Phlox 00:57, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

my main point was to not disclude the biographies, but the fact that Wikipedia's updates on famous people are so instant, and here there are not as many contributors to update them here at this Wikia. The tabs are helpful for when there is a large amount of information on a particular individule, such as William the Conqueor. But for people such as my great great grandmother, as there is less information, tabs are not needed. That's my opinion. Charlemagne needs tabs, I am going to do that now. -AMK152(TalkContributions 20:21, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Right. But even for sparsely written person articles, I could see tabs getting common if folks have any typical number of family photos/ scans of important documents for members of the family. Considering a hypothetical individual withtypical items- a picture of a gravestone, wedding certificate, baby shoes, maybe a picture of the person in uniform, you already can't fit it all in the main article, so you need a gallery tabbed page for it. ~ Phlox 22:15, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Yeah. -AMK152(TalkContributions 22:59, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Phlox is onto something good there. Now that he has kindly bludgeoned me into installing some css and js thingies, our displays apparently work much better. Since then I have had the idea that I should try to do tabs for my relatives (fewer than 30 so far) on this site. (Am I right in thinking that the advantage of tabs is that you make subpages that link easily directly to one another without going through the parent page?) Robin Patterson 12:00, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Caution - some of the above discussion of tabs may be out of date since our Semantic MediaWiki has developed. --- Robin Patterson (Talk to me) 01:10, March 13, 2011 (UTC)


One area where we can be distinctly better than Wikipedia is ancestry. Wikipedia's "notability" criteria discourage the addition of non-famous people to any list or chart of ancestors, but we can go on ad infinitum. Our tree pages and various other templates can automate the process. A good proportion of our contributors, particularly the casual ones, are interested in the ancestry of famous people, partly to see whether it relates to their own; so any work we put into that area could be of very good value in attracting new substantial contributors. Some of it is very easy for us to do, where other websites have collected the necessary facts that we can use. WARGS is a good example, most of it being arranged in Ahnentafel form. We can create an Ahnentafel list quickly from that site, then quickly create pages by working up successive lines of ancestry using our Ahnentafel to create the parent links and the remaining detail on WARGS to fill in date and place detail. As the creator of WARGS has died, his work may have an uncertain future. I've been concentrating on using it recently. --- Robin Patterson (Talk to me) 01:10, March 13, 2011 (UTC)

WARGS should definitely be preserved. Chances are that the site will be terminated if no subscription is paid. The starting point would be a simple copy of the data here, with a special category (wargs). rtol 09:23, March 13, 2011 (UTC)

Category name

My current discussion with Robin Patterson raises the issue of whether the "Famous people" is the appropriate name for the category "for people who have a page here, and also a page on one or more of the different language Wikipedias". I seem to recall that User:Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) recently proposed something like "People who have a page on Wikipedia as well as Familypedia". There are currently 2794 pages and 9 subcategories in the category, so a rename would not be a big deal. We would have to rename "List of famous people" too. Thurstan (talk) 01:34, May 6, 2013 (UTC)

I'd like a change. Thurstan's definition is good by being unambiguous but probably not a good definition of "famous people". I suggest we base the name on the criterion for getting a Wikipedia page: Category:Notable people (to which we can re-redirect the unconventionally-named Category:Notable Persons). Then we can work on getting FP pages for a significant number of the people on WP (currently over a million). Interesting that we have 2794 pages in the category: we have over 5,000 pages on the list, with apparently only a handful that are not about individuals, so I guess some pages are in the subcategories and not in the master category - but the subcategories don't look as if they could hold over 2,000 pages about individuals. -- Robin Patterson (Talk) 02:55, May 6, 2013 (UTC)
The missing 2600+ are the people who link to {{Showfacts interwikis}}: hence my earlier message to you. If you check the list, you will find that List_of_famous_people/3000 is blank.
I think we want a name with "Wikipedia" in it, so that it really is unambiguous (not just to the cognescenti). Thurstan (talk) 03:21, May 6, 2013 (UTC)
As general name of the category I would second Robin Patterson's proposal of "Notable people". I also consider that the criteria of notability could be taken from Wikipedia. I would however not include Wikipedia in title. While Wikipedia in its various languages has many articles about persons, these could omit persons who fulfill the criteria but for which no articles have yet been written. This does not imply that they are less notable than other people for which articles have been written, as long as they satisfy the same criteria. I do not consider we should have different criteria than Wikipedia.
Regardless of the title of the category, it should include sub-categories, which should include both the nationality (i.e. "Notable people from Estonia") and the profession: either "Prime Ministers of France" (as, according to Wikipedia criteria any Prime Minister of France is by definition notable) or "Notable writers", "Notable engineers" etc. (as, also according to Wikipedia, the writers or engineers have to fulfill some criteria in order to be notable).
However, I do not think that we should look at the notable people in Wikipedia and copying them into Familypedia. An important scope of Familypedia is genealogy, and if there is an article about a notable person, without any indication about parents, children or spouses readers who are interested in those persons can find the information in WP. Therefore, even if we look at the articles existing in WP, I think we should focus on persons for which this type of information is available, either in WP or elsewhere. Afil (talk) 04:33, May 6, 2013 (UTC)

I have always thought that there are lots of people on Wikipedia who are neither famous nor notable. A category "People on Wikipedia" would be fine.

Note that I took the category "famous people" out of "showfacts interwikis" because places were categorized as people. rtol (talk) 05:56, May 6, 2013 (UTC)

A noteworthy subject which I have been pondering a lot on recently. On FP I've been tracing lineage for many prominent Americans to their English Royalty ancestors and am contemplating building out a lot of royal lines that are rich in early genealogy or to major events in history using WP as a major reference. I'm interested in the concept of subcategories of famous people that share a common historical event. A good example of this is the Plymouth Colony page I started a while back for the Mayflower Pilgrims and their descendants. User:MainTour 21:13, May 6, 2013 (PTC)
The Mayflower certainly has devotees quite out of proportion to its physical size. Just the other day, while copying facts and possible facts from yet another website that led back to that settlement, I thought we should have a Project Mayflower along the same lines as Project Charlemagne. -- Robin Patterson (Talk) 22:28, May 7, 2013 (UTC)
I'm happy with People in Wikipedia or People on Wikipedia or (parallelling "Familypedia people") Wikipedia people, and I'm pleased that Thurstan has found a way to automate it. I agree that some aren't famous, and maybe we can agree on a definition and have our own smaller category for those that are - but see Category:VIA and Category:VID. I also agree with Afil that we should rarely if ever copy one for whom no parents or children are traceable. -- Robin Patterson (Talk) 22:28, May 7, 2013 (UTC)
I am happy with "People on Wikipedia". Do we have a conclusion here? Should I run a bot run to change the existing pages? Thurstan (talk) 05:17, May 9, 2013 (UTC)
Nobody disagreed. Thurstan has now created Category:People on Wikipedia, which has nothing linking to it at present but will probably soon have more than just this page linking to it. See below for some technicalities. -- Robin Patterson (Talk) 04:53, May 13, 2013 (UTC)


Given that the requirement to belong to the category is to have a Wikipedia article, I suggest that we should have a template which shows the Wikipedia link, and categorizes the page. At present, there seem to be several methods for linking to Wikipedia for these person pages:

  1. using {{showfacts interwikis}}: for example Judith of Flanders (1033-1094)
  2. using usedwp/usedwps/copywp: for example Abraham Pietersen Van Deusen (1602-c1670)
  3. linking without a template: for example Abigail Smith (1744-1818) or George Wilcken Romney (1907-1995)

I suggest that we have a template ("Person on Wikipedia", with alias "PersonWP"?) which categorizes, and invoke one of these other templates to display the link. Thurstan (talk) 04:38, May 12, 2013 (UTC)

For material that is copied from Wikipedia, our license requires us to have a proper acknowledgment, which is what usedwp and usedwps and the standard {{Wikipedia}} do. If you can get {{PersonWP}} to incorporate one of those, all should be good. Andrei, I think, introduced usedwps as a less obtrusive template than the standard ones, and I'd be quite happy to have it used. -- Robin Patterson (Talk) 08:52, May 12, 2013 (UTC)