Keeping A Family Wiki

Members of my (some of them extended) family recently entered and left life, which is always an opportunity to think about my family. I’ve written before about my own efforts to keep family history in a wiki which is powered by my Family Wiki WordPress plugin (Github).

Every relative gets their own page, like on Wikipedia, just in private. This is why I am also not sharing screenshots, the plugin page has a few fake ones. Here is one screenshot of the editing page though (you can scroll away the bottom when you enter text):

It is not a very elaborate plugin but it was based on a born and died shortcode to create something like a family birthday calendar as well as a generally notable-dates calendar for your family.

In order to add some structure to this, I have now (manually) migrated this metadata to use Advanced Custom Fields through which you’d now not only enter the birth and death date but also parents and children.

With a new [name_with_bio] shortcode, you’ll then receive automatic output like this:

Name (born as Maiden name on January 1, 1900 in Place, died on March 31, 2000 (aged: 100) in Other Place; daughter of Father and Mother; sibling of Brother and Sister; parent of Daughter and Son)

This metadata might make it possible to render a family tree later on, since now the pages are interconnected with each other. Maybe something like this already exists for ACF, I looked a while back and there wasn’t.

Just to recap: my personal mission is to keep stories of my relatives alive, where and what they worked on, who they visited, what adventures they might have encountered. In general: anecdotes, maybe with some pictures. Also, for living relatives, their contact data.

This is why I deem a wiki format to be superior to all those geneaology sites. I don’t value the huge amout of connections to some far-removed relatives that they encourage to build. I care about those that I might have got to know or just missed.

And, having a WordPress blog (network) already, it’s easy to put this on WordPress vs. using a dedicated wiki (and actually it’s quite easy to find cheap WordPress hosting). I had the original versions on a Mediawiki but it was quite a hassle to maintain, now the data is just in a WordPress. Should my plugin no longer work, nothing is lost since the wiki pages are just plain WordPress pages. Some of the nicities will go away but the meat is in the writing.

Oh, and of course a benefit of a wiki is that other relatives can also contribute. In reality, it’s hard to get them to contribute but when they do, they add some details I didn’t know and that’s just worth so much for me!

I can highly recommend to try keeping family history in such a way. It’s a really nice way to pass this on to further generations of your family, and also for my own reference when my poor memory strikes again.

Posted in Web

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