Wikitree Review 2023

In the modern era, there is no shortage of genealogy websites providing a service that enables you to trace your family tree. Today, to help you make a more educated choice when choosing the one for you, we're going to review Wikitree and its services.

Whereas other services are based on your specific family tree, Wikitree promotes what it calls a 'worldwide family tree.'

Uninterested in specific, exclusionary family trees, Wikitree's mission is to create a comprehensive, collaborative family tree made of all its member's shared histories.

Wikitree believes that no matter our specific history, we all share one history, and their online community of just under 40 million community members is a testament to the wider community they hoped to build.

Welcome to The Free Family Tree

What Is Wikitree?

Wikitree is a free online modern family history community where every member has the shared interest of trying to trace family members from their family tree. This means while you can build your own specific profile with your data and communication interests, your findings and place in the community will all be part of one single profile, one family tree.

The community is made up of just under 40 million profiles, including 10 million with confirmed DNA tests, as well as over 740,000 genealogists from around the world, 10 million of which with confirmed DNA details.

It's a partner of the Global Family Reunion Project, a conference held in June 2015 whose mission was to create the world's largest family tree, which is currently sitting at 77 million members!

Websites like Wikitree play a crucial role in joining the dots between distant and lost family members and filling in the empty spaces in this worldwide family tree.

How Does Wikitree Work?

When you sign up for a free Wikitree profile, you will create a profile where you'll build your own tree based on your family history.

As you enter the names of your family, pre-existing profiles with matching names will be suggested, so if you share a relative with any existing profiles, you can link them to your tree as well, merging the relation between your tree and someone else's and removing duplicate profiles to create an accurate family tree.

When you create your profile, you can make it as detailed as possible, the same is true with adding family members. You can be as biographical as you want, giving a rich idea of the grandparent or distant cousin you're writing about for other community members with whom you might share the same family member, giving detail to them that your fellow Wikitree members may never have had.

Wikitree also allows you to add GEDCOM data to your profile. GEDCOM is a catch-all term given to files containing an individual's genealogical information and metadata that can be integrated with other GEDCOM profiles, essentially creating a technological language that allows the sharing of hereditary information between those with a GEDCOM profile.

Will Wikitree Keep my information private?

As Wikitree doesn't do DNA tests, so you don't have to worry about them keeping that data safe.

Profiles on Wikitree have adjustable privacy levels and a list of trusted profiles. Trusted profiles can access your information, while what other profiles can see depends on your privacy level.

The Pros And Cons Of Wikitree

Lets take a look at some of the pros and cons of using Wikitree.


Build your own family tree

Wikitree encourages you to be as detailed as possible as you start making entries about your ancestors. For each profile, there's a field for information such as their career and life highlights down to things as simple as their likes and dislikes.

Wikitree aims to make its family tree the most comprehensive, and by taking the time to add extra flavor to each profile you make the tree a more human experience.

Now taking this extra time isn't going to help you get to the bottom of your family history, but if you're passionate about your history and creating a comprehensive family tree, it's a great opportunity to commit it to a record where it will exist for other community members to learn from.

G2G forum

The G2G, or Genealogist to Genealogist forum, is a space for you to interact with other members of Wikitree. You can introduce yourself, engage in dialogues or pose questions to the community at large about any related topic, as well as share family photos

This is a great spot to become savvier with the Wikitree experience and glean information from older members who know how to use the system.

Once you've skilled up, you can also help others who are just starting out on their investigations.

It provides a great starting block to begin your investigations as you can link a question to a specific profile so you can collaborate on finding an answer and keep the information gathered all in one place. Other people following that profile can also track the response and lend a hand if they're interested.

Shareable to FamilySearch and social media

Twitter and Facebook allow you to share a downloadable image of your tree to your feeds, so other family members and friends can see it. They may even be able to fill in some blanks you have or offer up some new leads.

If your investigation has hit a wall, opening it up to a general-purpose social media platform could be the shot in the arm that you need. If you make your profile public so people can find you easier, you can also share a link to your profile so they can connect with you on Wikitree.

You can also link your profile to FamilySearch, which is another genealogy software for family trees. FamilySearch has one of the largest historical databases, so linking the two platforms has great potential for advancing your research.

By creating a profile with both platforms, you can transfer your whole tree over from one community to the other. FamilySearch will even suggest potential matches that it thinks are relevant to your tree.

It's easy to have a family tree on both pages, and it makes sense to double the resources you have at your disposal.



The Free Family Tree

If we know anything about apps, especially specialized ones that perform important tasks, it's that you're usually wiser to pay for superior software.

That Wikitree is free should be a pro, but this may limit the service it can provide compared to a paid platform.

There are plenty of upgrades available, such as upgrading your account to a Family Member account so you can add family ancestors or signing the honor code so you can become a Wiki Genealogist. This removes limits on how many profiles you can add and images you can upload, as well as allow you to upload GEDCOM files.

Unfortunately, these seem like arbitrary box ticks that don't change the experience much, and it's a strange choice to hide them behind completing an honor code form on the website.

Community members

Much the same as anyone can alter a Wikipedia article, Wikitree too is run by non-paying members who have no code of conduct to stick to, which can lead to laziness or unprofessionalism.

Only around 200,000 members have signed the honor code, many of whom are inactive and make minimal financial contributions or contributions to the building of Wikitree family trees.

Some members have complained about the mentoring system obstructing their experience due to the individual attitudes of mentors enforcing their own community standards, whether this is by merging profiles without permission or by restricting another's ability to contribute for arbitrary reasons.

The G2G forum, like any online forum, is also subject to hosting arguments of varying degrees of abuse, as well as spam. It can be difficult to conduct any form of conversation that isn't overtly positive with strangers without accidentally falling into a disagreement, and the forum on Wikitree is no different.

Moderation of the G2G is performed by 14 people who appear to be inconsistent with flagging or removing posts and comments that break community standards.

Lots of people report positive experiences with the G2G forum, but the flaws in its system have led to bad experiences for others.

System layout and software

Wikitree uses an outdated version of Wikimedia that is currently unsupported. This puts pressure on a primitive platform that would break under the weight of its work were it not for extensions and apps built by selfless community members.

The layout of the site and its dashboard is not the most attractive, but its outdated system falls short of attractive tools and interfaces offered by AncestryDNA, which offers a DNA testing system as well as simply a family tree builder.

How Does Wikitree Compare To The Competition?

Wikitree vs. AncestryDNA

The biggest difference between these two sites is that Wikitree is purely a family tree service, offering no form of DNA testing. AncestryDNA, on the other hand, is one of the leading providers of comprehensive DNA testing and a world family tree service.

Naturally, Ancestry charges for the services required for a DNA test, but their family tree service is also behind a paywall, a common complaint. Ancestry is much more a personal project than Wikitree, where users create a personal family tree instead of contributing their piece to a larger one.

In this sense, these are two very different services, and there is no reason you can't use them in tandem with each other. AncestryDNA is less a repository for genealogical data and more a personalized experience for making your family tree and discovering your genetic past. In contrast, Wikitree is designed to be a huge database where everyone plays their part in its assemblage.

If you choose to get a DNA test from Ancestry, you can upload the test results to your Wikitree, which has a far deeper breadth of data, allowing the new information you've gained to take you to new places in your investigations.

In any case, both these sites provide different services, and which one you decide on will depend on where you want to take your research.

Wikitree vs. MyHeritage

MyHeritage is another DNA testing platform with greater specialization in family tree building, offering the full gamut of family tree building tools. You can use its service to search through millions of birth and marriage certificates, as well as obituaries and census records.

It's easier to upload your GEDCOM data to MyHeritage, and the system is better at incorporating the GEDCOM into your search for family members. You can also upload your existing Wikitree family tree to MyHeritage, so any missing links Wikitree throws up could be cleaned by missing existing profiles on My Heritage.

The free plan on MyHeritage offers space for 250 individuals in your family tree as well as 500mB space for photos and documents. However, it doesn't allow access to MyHeritage's extensive historical records.

Beyond the basic plan, MyHeritage offers four subscription plans ranging from $129 up to $299, with big discounts on the first year for each plan. Each of these offers increasingly more helpful tools, such as Supersearch, which allows you to search all MyHeritage family and profile sites, as well as the Smart Match, merge tool, which compares data between members of your family tree and every other to locate potential matches between yours and other trees.

As MyHeritage is a much more comprehensive genealogy site with a fully integrated DNA testing service, it's unfair to compare it to Wikitree, which is simply a family tree tool. Wikitree is free, and the G2G forum can provide a much-needed helping hand, but both can and should, be used in tandem to ensure your research is as complete as possible.

Wikitree Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get a DNA test from Wikitree?

No. Wikitree is purely a DNA ancestor confirmation aid and not a DNA testing site. It's a great tool to expand your research, and any extra resource you have to trace and build your family tree is a boon for your investigation.

How much does Wikitree cost?

Wikitree is a free platform that offers a number of upgraded functions that are also entirely free.

Is Wikitree accurate?

Wikitree is built by its users and moderated by users with higher authority, so while no official employees are ensuring their information is correct, their records are held to a high standard, with duplicate profiles regularly being merged and accurate ones deleted.

There is only so much these moderators can do, and as anyone can upload information to Wikitree, there is likely to be inaccurate information they haven't yet cleaned up. This is why it's important to be responsible and only upload valid data to maintain the integrity of this project.

Can I link Wikitree with other genealogy sites?

If you've had a DNA test with a provider such as AncestryDNA or MyHeritage, you can upload your results to Wikitree to make your profile more legitimate and complete. However, Wikitree doesn't verify this information or use it in any way by listing it on your profile.

You can also upload your Wikitree profile to fill in empty spaces in your tree that might be occupied by ancestors who don't appear on Wikitree but are listed on competitor sites.

The Bottom Line

The undertaking of a mission statement of a project like Wikitree can't be understated, and assembling 40 million profiles into a worldwide family tree is a staggering achievement, but whether or not it's an effective tool for deepening your personal tree is in question.

The world of family tree building sites is small but competitive, demanding a basic level of fluidity and ease in their interfaces.

Wikitree has a simple appearance that doesn't attempt to compete with more aesthetically pleasing sites such as MyHeritage.

This is more than likely down to Wikitree being completely free, which is a plus many competitor sites don't offer. Maintaining a truly competitive website both in appearance and complexity is extremely difficult on a non-profit basis, so we can forgive Wikitree for being less pleasing and comprehensive than paid platforms.

If you want a more attractive tool with a wider range of applications, then paying for it is smart.

A basic program like Wikitree is best used in tandem with a service like AncestryDNA and not as a standalone tool, that is, unless you're happy simply adding to your own family tree.

Wikitree is a good system for potentially connecting with family members and for speaking with like-minded have-a-go genealogists, but for rewarding, deep ancestral investigations, it won't take you much further.

Neil Edwards

Neil Edwards

Genealogist and family-tree research specialist

Neil was born in Shropshire, England surrounded by centuries of living history. His interest in the past has been a lifelong passion leading to undergraduate degrees in both Economic History & Geography and History & Politics.

This interest in history quickly translated to family history when he moved to the U.S. in 2010. It was here that he began working on his own family tree as well as that of his American wife. That research allowed him to gain a wealth of experience working with both U.S. and European genealogical documents and studying their best uses in researching family history.

Following 9 years of honing his genealogical research skills, Neil was proud to have earned a certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in late 2019. Neil also took part in the research process for a Duke University study into the families of 19th Century UK Members of Parliament.

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