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Accept Incomplete Records


A contributor may want to add a new record but may not have access to all of the information required to create a complete record.


Requiring contributors to complete all fields may discourage contributions if they don’t have access to all of the necessary data. If forced to complete all fields, users may submit inaccurate data.


Allow contributors to create partial records which may be improved by other contributors at a later time.

Databases can still be valuable with incomplete records. A catalogue that contains a skeleton record for each item is still useful as it captures that the item exists, even if the full details have not yet been captured.

Allowing contributors to build on and improve existing contributions makes it easier to share the work of collecting and maintaining data. It also lowers the barrier for new users as they can focus on improving existing records, e.g. via Suggested Edits, rather than adding new records.

Encouraging users to add basic records, then later improving the depth of information available, will help to ensure the dataset can quickly grow and demonstrate some value to contributors.

A record is likely to have some minimum data requirements, so be sure to clearly label required and optional fields.

Open Plaques

The contributor is reassured that they may leave fields blank, and they may indicate that the inscription is not yet complete

Related patterns

Draft Changes

A contributor does not have the time or enough information to make a complete submission at the moment.

Suggested Edits

Records in the dataset are incomplete but could be improved through some small additions.

Essential Preparation

Contributors are not aware that they may need to prepare in order to make a contribution

Something missing? Suggest a change or addition