GENUKI Maintainers' Pages
Welcome to the GENUKI Maintainers' Pages
Aim of GENUKI
The aim of GENUKI is to serve as a "virtual reference library" of genealogical information that is of particular relevance to the UK & Ireland. It is a non-commercial service, provided by a group of volunteers in cooperation with the Federation of Family History Societies and a number of its member societies. The information that is provided in GENUKI relates to primary historical material, rather than material resulting from genealogists' ongoing research, such as GEDCOM files. Its role is thus very different from Internet-based services that help genealogists find others researching the same family, and to exchange their research results with them.
Aim of this section of GENUKI
The pages in this section of GENUKI are intended to help people who have volunteered to develop sections of GENUKI (often, but not always county and/or parish pages) and, specifically, to provide support, advice, information and assistance to the maintainers. The subordinate pages of this section are sub-divided to cover the subjects of interest to maintainers.
It should be possible for a new maintainer to use these pages to find out the role of a maintainer and how that role should be exercised. However, there is a lot of information to absorb and a new maintainer isn't expected to know it all before starting. A maintainer is expected to absorb this information gradually and the other maintainers will be happy to help during this learning period.
Getting started as a maintainer
To be a GENUKI maintainer you need to have:
- Some prior experience of family history research in one or more specific areas, or local knowledge and contacts within the areas.
- The ability to create simple HTML pages and maintain them (including a basic understanding of HTML, directory structure management, and FTP).
- Ideally, good contacts, e.g. via a county RootsWeb mailing list, by means of which you can engage the help of others with your task.
- Lots of enthusiasm!
For a number of reasons, GENUKI maintainers store their web pages on a variety of servers and GENUKI web services are, in practice, delivered by a number of providers.
Common look and feel
The GENUKI web pages have been developed within a defined structure to provide a common look and feel across the set of web services that constitute GENUKI without the imposition of rigorous and constraining format rules. It is important to maintain the GENUKI look and feel because it provides a simple, coherent, and consistent way for readers to access the data which they seek, across the various counties, and a wide variety of platforms.
The top level web pages are hosted, and the associated core services delivered by software running, on the genuki.org.uk server. These top level web pages often refer to sections, sometimes whole counties, hosted on other servers. Maintainers are free to store their pages either on the genuki.org.uk server, or on any other suitable servers, to which links can be provided from the genuki.org.uk server.
Structure of GENUKI information
The method of structuring that we have adopted is not one that we have invented arbitrarily for ourselves. Rather it is based closely on the method that has been developed and used by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. This, of course, is by far the largest genealogy library in existence and one with which many genealogists all over the world are familiar through their use of the microfiche and the CD-ROM versions of the library's catalogue, and of the excellent Research Guides published by the Library.
The principal means of structuring used on GENUKI is therefore by means of a four/five-level hierarchy corresponding to locality. The first (top) level corresponds to the British Isles as a whole.
The second level consists of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. This choice is exactly that made by the Family History Library, and has been motivated by considerations of what major archives exist, and how various important sets of official records are organized, and not by any political considerations. Thus, Ireland is the term used to cover both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland because their official records and their genealogical traditions are inextricably mixed.
The third level of the hierarchy corresponds to counties, equivalently the separate islands comprising the Channel Islands.
The fourth level corresponds to towns and parishes within such counties. GENUKI, and most other information sources of relevance to genealogy, uses the pre-1974 counties rather than the modern ones. The base lists of parishes were taken from the 1832 definitions in "Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers (2nd ed.), Chichester, Phillimore (1995)", but this covered only England and Wales, and many counties have supplemented the original Phillimore list with parishes drawn from the The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868).
The intention is that all parishes in a county should be reachable directly from the county page. However, our convention is for the list of parishes within major towns to be listed, indented under the town name on the county page, and also given on the town page, where they serve as additional links to these parish pages. Thus parishes that are grouped together within a town in fact form a fifth level in the hierarchy. The sets of town parishes that are treated this way are those that are so treated in the Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers (ibid.).
At each of these levels information is then organized by subject. We have chosen to use headings taken from the set of subject headings that the Family History Library catalogue uses for its British Isles information. The idea is to introduce such subject headings only as the need arises; many of these subject headings may never be needed, especially at the lower levels of the hierarchy. For convenience and future guidance the complete list can be found elsewhere.
This structuring method involves recording details about a given information source at the level which corresponds to the localities to which this information relates, under the appropriate subject heading. Thus information about the parish registers of Clovelly in Devon would be filed under British Isles: England: Devon: Clovelly - Church Records, while a large set of census records relating not just to England but to England and Wales, say, would be found under British Isles - Census. However, taking advantage of the web's hypertext faciities, if this latter set of census set of records is actually organized by county, we would also expect there to be reference to, say, the Devon section of the census records under British Isles: England: Devon - Census.
In addition to the four/five-level hierarchy corresponding to locality which is used to structure the underlying genealogical material, GENUKI web pages are organised in logical sections for reporting and maintenance purposes. A section is an identifiable set of GENUKI pages assigned to one or more maintainers, who are responsible for their integrity and currency.
A county is one example of a GENUKI section. Statistical reporting of GENUKI is also based on sections.
The relationships between maintainers, the sections for which they have some responsibility, and the roles they undertake within each section are defined to provide the maximum flexibility. A useful starting point for new maintainers is to see how GENUKI is organised for management purposes.
The volunteers who have devoted their time to keep GENUKI as a modern and relevant source of genealogical reference material fall into several categories defined by roles:
- Trustee. A Trustee is a member of the group of Trustees who provide policy oversight of GENUKI and its operation.
- Maintainer. A maintainer maintains the web pages associated with one or more sections of GENUKI.
- System administrator. The system administrator is a unique maintainer and trustee who has responsibility for the genuki.org.uk server, its web pages, scripts and other software fragments which allow GENUKI to operate reliably and consistently and provide high quality services to our readers.
The roles of trustee and maintainer have been defined in detail and form part of the GENUKI standards.
Amendments to the standards
Reference is often made to "The GENUKI Standards" and, for this purpose, the GENUKI standards are the mandatory technical standards, and the standards of conduct, described in these maintainers pages. Any GENUKI maintainer or trustee may propose a change to the GENUKI standards. The process by which amendments are proposed, discussed and agreed, is one of the GENUKI standards. An amendment to the process by which the GENUKI standards are changed is also a change to the GENUKI standards and follows the same process.
Status of GENUKI counties
Every county in the British Isles is represented on GENUKI, but, depending on circumstances, each exists in one of several states:
- Active. This is the status of most sections and means that the section has a maintainer assigned who is actively updating the section's web pages.
- Pending . The section is active and has a maintainer assigned but a replacement maintainer is being sought.
- Care and Maintenance . The section has a maintainer assigned who is correcting broken links, and staying in touch with the GENUKI system administrator and Trustees but is not active in updating the section's web pages.
- Inactive . No maintenance is being performed.
Maintainers operate under a code of conduct which defines GENUKI's standards of operation. In so doing, maintainers also possess a set of rights and responsibilities.
- Standards of conduct. The code of conduct under which maintainers operate.
- Rights and responsibilities. The rights and responsibilities a maintainer can expect.
GENUKI is a charitable trust constituted by a deed and its property ("the trust fund") is administered and managed by the Trustees.
The Trustees hold the trust fund and its income upon trust to apply them:
- To promote and encourage the public study of genealogy, local history, family history and community history with particular reference to persons living in or associated with the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man
- To make information for or about genealogy, local history, family history and community history available to the public using Internet and other means of electronic diffusion
Note that the trust fund is largely notional, and GENUKI's property is essentially intellectual and reflected in the GENUKI website.
The legal consequences of publishing information on a website can be complex and a number of different UK and EU laws govern aspects of website design and content. Publication of information on GENUKI or any other website can create both civil and criminal liability. Civil liability issues are prevalent, and GENUKI maintainers need to be careful about copying text, images and other material from third parties which are covered by copyright. Moreover, note that copyright infringement or breaches of data protection law can also give rise to criminal liability.
- Protect the intellectual property contained within or referenced by the GENUKI website by ensuring that GENUKI's intellectual property (or that referenced by GENUKI) is properly marked as such and protected.
- Be conscious that any derogatory comments you or another person publish on the GENUKI website could give rise to a defamation claim.
- Be careful to ensure that any branding doesn't infringe another person's trade mark rights.
The Intellectual Property Office provides a useful set of lessons and links on all the types of intellectual property; copyright and trademarks being examples relevant to GENUKI. A good example of the marking of intellectual property is used on Colin Hinson's Yorkshire pages.
The following (non-exhaustive) list highlights those areas of law which are of some concern to GENUKI maintainers:
- Intellectual property and copyright
- Data protection
- Computer misuse
- Child protection/pornography
- Equal opportunities/race equalities
- Disabilities discrimination
Detailed knowledge of most of the above legislation is unlikely to be required by maintainers. However, specific legislation designed to help and protect readers and users of websites places special obligations upon the GENUKI Trustees and maintainers, and the laws that are most relevant to GENUKI maintainers are those concerning copyright, accessibility and data protection.
- Copyright. The law and how to conform to it.
- Disabled access. The law and how to conform to it.
- Data protection. The law and how to conform to it.
- Complaints. What to do if you receive a legal complaint.
The job of maintaining a section on the GENUKI website can be intimidating to a newcomer, and occasionally quite demanding during periods of high activity. However, help is available for maintainers and the following sub-sections exist to provide support for the new maintainer.
If you are having problems, or need to ask a question about the maintenance work you are doing, you can use the website search engine - somebody may already have answered your question. And, if you can't yet find your way around the website to reach the information, try using the website search engine until you become more familiar with the structure.
The maintainers, as a body, possess considerable knowledge and experience of the maintenance job, and are keen to share their experience with new maintainers. One subject which might be of interest to a new maintainer is that of the software needed by a maintainer - there is a section on the experience of current maintainers of freeware, shareware and commercial software packages which could prove useful.
The spider is a tool that will help you correct errors in your pages and improve their adherence to the GENUKI standards; try looking at the most recent spider report, and find out about the spider by following the links in the statistics section.
If you'd like to contact another maintainer, you can do so via the maintainers mailing list (see below) which is promulgated to all maintainers. Private exchanges can take place with other maintainers, just use the list of section allocations which shows who is responsible for maintenance on the GENUKI website.
Finally, a new maintainer will almost certainly be contacted by the many readers of GENUKI who will report problems, seek help, provide new information, and even offer to help. Responding to such queries is a normal part of a maintainer's job and there is a section on how to deal with errors, problem reports, and complaints.
- Hints. Help for the new or inexperienced maintainer.
- Advice. A list of things a maintainer should and shouldn't do.
- Search. Use the GENUKI search engine to find the answer.
- Software. A list of the software in use by maintainers to keep GENUKI up to date.
- Problem reports. Dealing with reports from readers of errors and problems.
It's important to stay in touch with the GENUKI system administrator, Trustees and other maintainers. Doing so means that a maintainer will hear about and take part in discussions about the future direction and policy of GENUKI. It's also the way that the system administrator can remind maintainers of the regular tasks they need to undertake, and provide notice of impending changes and outages.
Creating and updating web pages that are useful to readers, and contain current county and parish information calls for communication with GENUKI readers. It's often the case that our readers provide new information about our counties and parishes, and also let us know about the inevitable problems and errors on our pages.
In addition to communicating with readers of the GENUKI website it's also important to communicate with readers and potential readers via alternative mechanisms they find most convenient and natural. Some of our readers are users of Facebook and GENUKI has established an identity on Facebook for the purpose of communicating with Facebook users.
These sub-sections provide guidance on how to keep in touch with other GENUKI volunteers, and the GENUKI readership.
- Mailing lists and email address. Manage your membership of GENUKI mailing lists, ensure your email address is correctly recorded, and search the mailing list archive.
- Feedback. See what readers have said about the GENUKI service.
- Facebook. How maintainers can communicate with GENUKI readers on Facebook.
The work involved in maintaining a section of GENUKI is immense but can often be rewarding and enjoyable. Maintainers have found that the work involved can be minimised by taking a structured approach to keeping folders, files and other records up to date.
A new maintainer can benefit from the experience of others by using their advice to deal with uploading files, managing folders and files, and developing county and parish pages. For a maintainer just starting the role, there are example county and parish pages to copy and modify. There's also a short tutorial on how to produce standards compliant and presentable web pages quickly and easily without having to become an expert in HTML. However, in many cases a new maintainer will find him/herself taking over a county which already has a complete set of parish pages, so then the task will be mainly to do with adding content to such pages and adding subordinate information pages when appropriate, e.g., for transcripts of the parish's registers.
There's a useful section below contributed by Lou Mills on how to deal with War Memorials. Finally, there's a section below of guidance on how to deal with the issues arising from the changes that occurred in UK and Ireland county and parish definitions and boundaries over time.
- Uploading. How to upload your files.
- Folders and files. How to manage your GENUKI folders and files.
- County. Developing county pages.
- Parish. Developing parish pages.
- Standards. A minimal set of
mandatory technical standards to which all pages must conform.
- Options. A set of advisory
- Skeleton county page.
How to create an initial standards conformant county page.
- Skeleton parish page.
How to create an initial standards conformant parish page.
- Style sheets. Style sheets to help maintainers create conformant web pages.
- Graphic images. Site-wide images for use on web pages.
- War Memorials. How to include data from War Memorials.
- Boundaries. How to deal with the different changes in county and parish definitions and boundaries over time.
- Mythic Beasts. The standards and conventions used on the GENUKI website hosted by Mythic Beasts.
The GENUKI gazetteer is a uniquely valuable element of the GENUKI website and it's the responsibility of maintainers to keep it historically useful to GENUKI readers. Not all county maintainers maintain the gazetteer for their county and it's possible to assign that responsibility to someone else.
The gazetteer is used to store the locations of many places mentioned in, or referred to by, GENUKI. This certainly includes parishes and towns, but could also include chapelries, hamlets and manors.
The gazetteer is supported by software which allows searching and display with a variety of options, e.g., look for nearby places. The output can be closely integrated with web pages on GENUKI to allow readers to link directly to the parish page resulting from a search.
This sub-section defines the format of gazetteer entries and how they combine to form the gazetteer database, and provides advice on how to create and modify entries. To aid maintainers, there is also a page of statistics which indicate which maintenance tasks are required.
- Modify. How to add or modify an entry in the GENUKI gazetteer.
- Definition. Definition of the format of gazetteer entries.
Another uniquely valuable element of the GENUKI website is the church database. This is similar in principle to the gazetteer in that readers can search the database for specific churches and the results can be closely integrated with GENUKI parish pages. Not all county maintainers maintain the church database entries for their county and it's possible to assign that responsibility to someone else.
However, the church database allows considerably more information to be stored about a church than the gazetteer does about a parish.
This sub-section defines the format of church database entries and provides advice on how to create and modify entries. To aid maintainers, there is also a page of statistics which indicate which maintenance tasks are required. There's also a magazine article written by David Lindley, intended for use in FHS magazines, which explains the benefits of the church database and how users of GENUKI can become involved.
- Modify. How to add or modify an entry in the church database.
- Definition. Definition of the format of church database entries.
- Article on the church database, by David Lindley.
GENUKI web pages are analysed automatically by a program called the spider which produces statistics, and detects broken links, redirects and other problems. The information produced by the spider will be of use to GENUKI maintainers in identifying faults and possible problems with their pages.spider report includes, for each section:
- Spider page access problems.
- Broken links.
- Spider access timeouts.
- HTML problems.
- Missing information.
- Gazetteer problems.
- Church database problems.
- Spider directives.
Additionally, access statistics are available for GENUKI pages stored on genuki.org.uk organised by month and with each month's data further broken down. Finally, page statistics are also available showing the number of GENUKI pages stored on hosts other than genuki.org.uk.
The genuki.org.uk website is managed by the system administrator. The pages in this section describe the scripts provided by the system administrator for use by maintainers, and a "to do" list in the event of major changes.