If you’re using webtrees, there’s a lot of control over user roles and abilities. I recently helped a man test out webtrees on my own site and made him administrator. Besides us two, everything else has standard privacy settings. That is to say that just because I upload his gedcom doesn’t mean anyone on the web can see private information for living people. The default is that if they’re alive, they’re set to private.
Now, over the last few years I’ve had requests from “cousins” or other family members to become a user on my webtrees site. This is usually not a problem. Most people are googling an ancestor, discover my site and want to see more. They request to be a user, add a little note about who they’re related to in the tree and I approve as an editor. This means they now have access to the whole tree (again this can be set by the admin) AND they’re allowed to edit the tree. However, any edits must be approved by the admin. To date, I believe only 1 or 2 people have actually tried to edit the information and contribute to the ever-growing tree.
Now, recently, and coincidentally, I’ve had 2 users register without any mention of why they want to explore more of my webtrees site. They did not say anything about who they may be related to and their names do not match any surnames in my database. What’s a genealogist to do?
Considering I’m in the game of cousin bait, I approved them. I’m hoping with access to my tree they’ll be inspired to reach out and perhaps contribute as well. Now for them, I can simply set their user role to “Member” rather than “editor”.
As you can see, there are a lot of options for each user. I can set their user role for each tree I have on my site. For me, everyone that visits is set to “visitor”. Unknown folks who register will be set to “member” followed by “editor” then “moderator” and finally “administrator”.
You may want different settings for your tree. I’m a “millennial” so I understand that privacy is pretty much dead. However, I still take precautions to protect family members. The beautiful thing about this program is that it’s all up to you. With all of the settings and functionality of webtrees, it can seem overwhelming but I’d rather have a lot of options with my genealogy than not enough.