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Guidance for Maintainers

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          Help and Guidance 2020: New Page: Version 1.1

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Introduction 


These pages are for all those involved in GENUKI as volunteers.  `if you have not logged into your account as a maintainer you can do so here Login. You can jump to some  advice on getting started

These pages cover:

  • what tasks need doing;
  • who does them;
  • how to do them.

Undertaking those tasks is supported by:

  • Advice on improving the content:We assume that most volunteers will have some experience in terms of visiting GENUKI and using it to find information. If you need any refreshing on some of the broad issues  then look at the general background pages for the basic information.
  • Technical Advice:There is additional technical background on how the current software as been tailored to provide the GENUKI system.
  • Guidance on Standards Maintainers are expected to work within a code of conduct and to observe the standards agreed for the inclusion of information in GENUKI and ensuring its continued validity.
  • Communication and Engagement with the Executive Team and particularly the Volunteer Coordinator.

What needs doing


GENUKI is now a mature website having been established in 1995. It has over 300,000 nodes and many of those contain significant numbers of individual pieces of information. Even so the expansion of the Internet means that there is potential for new information to arise all the time. As we have implemented more sophisticated software we recognise the opportunity to improve the coverage, consistency and depth of the topics across all our geographical areas.

There are thus two general tasks and a range of technical tasks

Checking and repairing

The current information must remain correct and valid, particularly  on links to external websites. The links can often change as websites are revised or developed with new software. Sometimes websites disappear and mailing lists get transferred to new systems. We have automated the process of identifying problems and sometimes indicating solutions but the final correction needs to be made manually.

Other information (such as books or the location of Archives) may be less volatile but it is often needs more skill in finding any problems or the help of our visitors who report problems.

Improving our range and depth of information

Even with the arrival of the commercial services focused on records of names there remains a unique contribution GENUKI makes: undertanding how the available records relate to particular places and thus can help genealogical searches. GENUKI also provides much local context enabling you to create true family histories. We have very good coverage across the countries and counties - although there is always scope for more! It has taken more time to achieve similar coverage in parishes across all areas.

We have developed some automated ways to help, notably on maps, but a significant task is to review a wide range of sources and select the key elements for inclusion in GENUKI. 

Technical Support

As with any computer based system someone needs to make it work including:

  • bug fixing in the Drupal implementation of core GENUKI and the two databases and the ;
  • devising and implementing new techniques to manage the data and present it
  • monitoring the performance of the hosting of the website and dealing with issues arising.

Who does what


There are broadly four different types of roles that volunteers undertake:

  • acting as a GENUKI Trustee (dealt with here);
  • being part of the Executive Team ( explained here);
  • dealing with the content of GENUKI (generally referred to as maintainers and covered below)
  • dealing with technical  aspects of the system (system users not covered in this guidance)

Individuals can undertake one or more distinct roles on content management eg looking after more than one area; and their technical access to the system will reflect all of those maintenance roles as well as any system user function they might have.

Maintainers

For much of GENUKI's history the term "maintainer" essentially meant  "county maintainer": an individual (or very occasionally two or more individuals ) who were responsible for creating all the pages relevant to both a county and all its parishes, sourcing information and organising the pages. They also maintained them in the sense of ensuring that information remained valid. This is still the backbone of the system and has proved successful in giving GENUKI the range and depth of information it offers.

However two issues have led to us adopt a more flexible approach:

  • the availability and use of content management systems and databases has made it easier to automate the structure and presentation of the pages;
  • the wider growth of genealogy on the internet requires a different approach to the sourcing of content .

We therefore have three maintainers acting in three ways:

  • Individual maintainers:  responsible for a geographical section  (still usually a county including its parishes, but also may be a country or  a town or parish) and for that section to deal with one or more of core GENUKI, Churches database and the Gazetteer
  • contributors: responsible for finding and submitting (and potentially directly entering into the system) new items of information either in relation to a place or to topics across several places;
  • team maintainers: each main country has a team dealing with a variety of issues across several counties, and most topics (other than those maintained by individual maintainers. The Team  Leader will initially be a member of the Executive Team and will agree with team members the priority actions on content improvement.

You will see at the foot of each page either an individual's name (one of the individual maintainers or contributors) or the name of the relevant country Team.

Access to GENUKI systems

Individual maintainers and team maintainers will all have access to the GENUKI technical system.They will be required to login with a username and password. (Normal visitors neither need nor should be able to log on). The maintainers will be able to create and amend pages and will therefore have permissions for their access defined to limit them to the sections for which they are responsible. Other technical users (members of the Executive Team, trustees and some others) may have additional technical scope to change aspects of the system. More detailed information about the additional technical tasks are outside the scope of this guidance.

Status of pages

Sections will normally be shown as under active maintenance when they are assigned to an individual maintainer or a team maintainer. However there is the ability to show that some sections or pages are not being actively maintained, usually for temporary reasons.

How to maintain your nodes


Get Started as a Maintainer shows you how to login, complete information in your profile, and access information about the pages you manage.

The most common tasks are covered in the following specific "How to ..... " pages

More "How to notes " will be added shortly. You can see the list of planned additions here.

 

Advice on improving your content


Based on extensive experience we offer some general advice on the way in which the three elements of GENUKI can be developed and improved:

In core GENUKI we cover developing the main place pages  (County and Parish) and the sources of information you might consult.

For Churches Database there are notes on expanding the range of churches covered and providing additional details of churches including history, location and photographs

In the Gazetteer there is scope for including additional locations, making locations more precise and  including boundaries on maps.

Technical Guidance


The small selection of "How too.. "topics above focus on the most common tasks that maintainers are likely to undertake. Further "How to" topics will be added from time to time. They are all  designed to give step by step instructions on completing a task  but it can often be helpful to have a fuller understanding of how the Drupal system works and how some of its functions and facilities make things easier.

The technical guidance deals with:

  • Understanding Drupal and the GENUKI implementation
  • Using the editor within Drupal
  • The relationship between the 3 databases (Core GENUKI, Churches and Gazetteer)

 

Code of conduct and standards


The Trustees are responsible for a number of key aspects of the use of and inclusion of information in GENUKI. 

They have therefore asked  all those volunteering to support and maintain GENUKI to  follow a Code of Conduct. This includes  policies to deal with the following issues

Communication and Engagement


Volunteers who act as maintainers have an obligation to follow the standards explained above . Equally they have the right to be fully supported as part of the GENUK team.

Communication is key  to engagement with the whole team. All maintainers are required to subscribe to the maintainers mailing list. This enables them to raise general and specific issues and also provides a means for the Executive Team to give updates on changes to the system. More details of the various email groups are on the Contact Us page

One of the Executive Team (Peggi Rodgers) has special responsibility for liaison with the volunteers.