Frequently asked questions

What about privacy and security?
I'm new to this! I don't want to break anything!
Are there any rules about what information I can add to the tree?
How should I enter Places?
How should I enter Chinese Places?
How should I enter Source records?
What is a Certificate Exempting from Dictation Test (CEDT)?

What about privacy and security?

Privacy is important and the Webtrees software goes a long way to assisting here. In order to have general visibility of people who are living, your userid needs to be linked to your place on the tree too. 

That said, no website is completely hack proof. Internet common sense is required. If you would rather not list your date of birth on the site (and you're still alive) feel free to leave it off or ask me to remove it. Also I would not image identity documents such as birth certificates on the site for living people. And don't re-use your password on other sites. 

I'm new to this! I don't want to break anything!

Don't panic. If I have given you access to update the tree, it will flag your changes as "pending" until they are reviewed by an Administrator. If they look correct and follow the necessary rules and conventions, the changes are accepted.

Are there any rules about what information I can add to the tree?

Re-read  the FAQ in Privacy. This is not Facebook. Then keep reading here: 

  • Information on the tree should primarily be historical information that is confirmed by Sources. A Source might be a document like an archival record, a parish register or a clan Jaipu. You should cite this when you add the record. If your not sure how to add a citation, add the information then send me an email with what source you propose to use. If the source is "I know this information myself", that's OK - a citation can say that too. (Not my preferred option since it's harder for someone to fact check it later without contacting you.)
  • If you are going to add information about a living person, please ensure you have their permission first.

How should I enter Places?

Whenever you fill in a field which is labelled "Place", follow these simple rules and your entry will correctly display in the "Lists -> Place Heirarchy Report". 

  1. Seperate the parts/levels of the Place with a comma
  2. Go from smallest to biggest
  3. The number of levels in a Place varies by country.
    • Australia has 3 levels: "<city>,<state>, Australia"  
    • England has 3 levels "<town>,<county>, England"
    • USA has 4 levels:  "<city>,<county>,<state>, USA"
    • New Zealand has 2 levels: "<town>, New Zealand"
    • China has about 6 levels. Tricky. Good luck.
    • For other, have a look at the Place Heirarcchy Report, or make it up yourself.
  4. Generally, do not abbreviate. The exception is for USA.

How should I enter Chinese Places?

I have tried to enter Chinese place names with their modern Pinyin translation. This is solely to make it easier to find these places on current mapping tools like Google. 

There is second field which GEDCOM defines as "Place in Hebrew". I'm using that for a Chinese character version of the Place. This does not appear in a Location Heirarchy report but may be more useful in place matching a mapping tool like Baidu.

How should I enter Source records?

Identifying Source records consistently is a good thing. If we refer to the same document by different, unconnected names, we may miss out on seeing an important connection. I've tried to apply the guidance contained in Mill's epic tome "Evidence Explained". 

There are a few different "patterns" for the names I have decided to use. The principle is to go from "most general" down to "most specific". The structure should be common to all similar Source items of that type. It's probably easier to illustrate by example.

I'm still in the process of renaming all Source documents to conform to this pattern.

Births, Deaths and Marriages

Generally, these Source items look like:

<The identity of the agency who produced or owns the item>.<the type of the item>.<a common, recognisable identifier for the item>.

An agency of a nation or state might be identified by that nation or state.

England.General Register Office.Birth.Fanny Amelia Baker

NSW.Registry of Births,Deaths and Marriages.Birth.Emma Violet King

NSW.Registers of Baptisms,Deaths and Marriages.Baptism.John James Doran

Some notes:

  • In England, the records are managed by a national organisation whereas in Australia, they are managed by different organisations in each state.
  • In NSW, records prior to civic registrations came from church records which weren't specifically records of Birth, but of Baptisms.


Certificates of Exemption from Dictation Test are common in this tree - most interstingly because they often included photos. The specific government agency is not included here as it isn't that helpful in actually locating the records now. The specific departments and bodies changed over the years, and all these records are now held by the Australian National Archives.

Australia.Certificates Exempting from Dictation Test.Kwong George Murphy

What is a Certificate Exempting from Dictation Test (CEDT)?

This is an administrative artifact arising from the Australia's restrictive immigration policies commonly known as the "White Australia Policy". Various forms and implementations date from around Federation. The primary effect was to restrict Chinese immigration to Australia.

Anyone who already had residency in Australia prior was exempt from taking the dictation test on their return to Australia. However as they were largely denied access to Naturalisation, they were excluded from holding an Australian passport. The work around for this was the CEDT. Essentially it was a passport substitute.

For more on this subject, this article is worth reading: