Profiles with unsourced or poorly sourced changes and relationship connections?

+11 votes
138 views
It is wonderful to help grow a fully connected family tree on WikiTree. I joined partly because of the chaotic and unsourced connections being made on many other genealogical sites. I also do genetic testing for similar reasons and appreciate the testing integration on WikiTree. Recently, however, a number of the profiles I manage are starting to be connected to other profiles without reasonable sources to justify those connections as far as I can discover.

Ancestry/Family Tree profiles, trees and pedigree files alone are not particularly reliable sources and are only useful if they have more definitive sources attached to them. "FindAGrave" profiles are slightly better at least when they attach a legible image of a gravestone but are similarly problematic. They often have attached family members that are unsourced. A gravestone does not usually have a list of family members engraved upon it. These profiles can be helpful for locating actual relevant source material but they are not a reliable source in and of themselves for most relationships. I find it nearly impossible to diplomatically undo these weakly sourced connections.

I feel like I am watching WikiTree slowly being sucked into the same chaoticly unsourced connections that plague other genealogical sites. I don't know how to go about breaking those assumed connections on the profiles that I manage without creating a lot of antagonism.

Whenever possible, I try to provide a clickable link within each source that will allow anyone to evaluate for themselves the validity of the source. I use inline links so each source is directly associated with facts in the biography/timeline. I like timelines because they allow me to display a backbone of sourced references and how they are related to one another in time. The linking of timeline facts with reliable sources is a critical component of this process.
Obviously, not all sources are equally reliable. But there should be a direct correlation between any statement of fact and the source from which that statement is drawn.

Changes are being made to profiles I manage that ignore my attempts to maintain this rigorous connection between sources and biographical facts. I honestly don't know how to approach this problem in a realistic and non confrontational manner. I don't want to feel forced to abandon WikiTree as I have done with other sites. Valid and well documented historical sources are so vitally important for developing a reliable shared family tree. I am open to any suggestions on how to deal with this problem.
in Policy and Style by Gary Kent G2G2 (2.5k points)

As I have been poking around looking for a solution to this problem, I came across this G2G post that seems particularly relevant. 
https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/1087888/these-pages-fairly-represent-policies-wikidata-find-grave

It is repeatedly suggested here to point out inconsistencies by adding research notes. I have already done this on one particular profile. Since WikiTree is a collaborative project, I think this approach may be the most suitable. We cannot force contributing genealogist to always be rigorous in their sourcing.

It is also suggested that relationships can be marked as uncertain. I don't find this entirely satisfying but I suppose it is about the best we can do with speculative connections unless we can disprove the connection.
 

3 Answers

+12 votes
Gary, when I see this happen, I post a comment on the affected profile along the lines of: "Someone recently [describe the change]. What is the source or evidence for this  change, please?"

And if it's already been discussed in the narrative, I add something like: "As already described in the narrative, [describe why the recent change isn't supported]. Has there been something else published that sheds new light on this subject?"

Frankly, nine times out of ten, I get no response. I wait a month.  Then I'll post something like, "lacking a response, I'm reverting the edit referenced above." If others respond supporting the reversion, I will act more quickly.
by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (781k points)
I usually send a PM to the person that made the change, in question, because a comment left on a profile that the editor is not a PM on, they won't necessarily see the message.

If you are seeing problems with the same person making changes without providing sources, review the Problem with Members process. Maybe the person needs a mentor to guide them on how to provide sources.
+9 votes
For me, Wikitree is really the only place where the use of sources and good references in genealogy is advocated. It apparently is so common to just write things down, that 'we' really have to do some good training and keep explaining why it is important.

I personally am biased probably, but I wouldn't really hesitate to point people to point VIII on the honor code, explain again what a good source is and revert the changes until they come up with good sources.

But I don't have a lot of people working on my profiles (I am not really from famous descent I reckon ;) ) so can't speak from first hand experience.
by Michel Vorenhout G2G6 Pilot (223k points)
+2 votes
Hear hear. ......
by Leslie Cooper G2G6 Mach 2 (28.5k points)

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