Finding Unsourced Profiles

+21 votes

As we all look forward to the upcoming Source-A-Thon, we begin thinking about unsourced profiles -- those in the Unsourced category or that are marked with the { { Unsourced } } Research Notes Box.

This is not a post intended to discuss what qualifies a profile to be categorized as Unsourced, or what is a "good" source.

The criteria for categorizing a profile as Unsourced are described here and here.

There are many profiles in the Unsourced category. To find unsourced profiles to be improved see the Data Doctors Unsourced Report, which is updated weekly or the Unsourced Profiles Category.

I have long thought that there are many more profiles that could possibly be categorized as Unsourced, have  written some software to test this theory, and applied it to a small portion of the WikiTree profiles near the middle of August 2020. Any profile found, of course, needs to be reviewed to see if the Unsourced category is appropriate. There are a few thousand such possibly unsourced profiles listed on the Unsourced Profile Hints space page. The description on that page attempts to answer FAQs.

WikiTree profile: Space:Unsourced_Profile_Hints
in The Tree House by Kay Knight G2G6 Pilot (622k points)
I looked at a few, and out of that small group 100% qualified as unsourced.

Great tool!

edit, sorry found one in born 1869 ;):
Ah, because his "sources" are all found under Research Notes, which are ignored. Following the philosophy that a source is either cited in the biography or under sources, and Research Notes are things that may or may not apply to the person or their family.

That one got me for a while too. It may be an indication that the profile needs work, perhaps even moving the sources.
I usually list sources in the Research Notes that have not been looked at yet and verified. Often people, mostly on other sites, will list a source and if you check, you will find it has nothing to do with the information added!

So I am of the opinion that sources listed in research notes do not make a profile sourced. Each profile needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Yeah good point. I guess doing an automatic evaluation is going to require some smart programming ;)
Wow, that comment regarding Research Notes just hit me flat in the face. I have hundreds of profiles with verified sources still sitting in Research Notes. I had no idea they would not be "counted". I will need to delete or move the "Research Notes" title.


There is nothing official about this count, it's just a finding aid....and, as Lucy noted, each profile needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. It does seem to be pretty good at finding profiles like this Davis-42121.

That said, the way the software looks at the biography is based on the help, which says "You can share information about genealogical research, as opposed to information about the person's life, in a section like this:"

If I post a "Research Notes" section and the sources are indeed pertinent, I add those references in "Sources" also. Seems to work. But sometimes I'm just adding research to bolster the profile... and don't include as a source.
So as a point of practicality, do you have a bot that will mark these as Unsourced category, or does that have to be done manually after individual profile review by a human bean?

Excellent work, Kay! I am so impressed that I’m speechless!

3 Answers

+6 votes
Thanks, Kay. Being the OCD person that I am, I will add this "clean-up" step to my list.
by Harvey Levitt G2G2 (2.5k points)
+8 votes

This is so cool Kay! I hope we will be able to use this to find many many of the still unsourced profiles at WikiTree so we can get them sourced and cleaned up! Nice work!smiley

by Emma MacBeath G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
+4 votes
Thank you for your post and efforts along the lines of identifying unsourced profiles. Lately, I've been finding new profiles with a comment in the sourced section that reads something to the effect, "From the personal knowledge or family history of (profile owner)". To me, personal knowledge is not a source, it's a research note... a recollection that should lead one to research further and locate a qualified source.
by Judi Stutz G2G6 Pilot (358k points)

Yes, I agree and there are many. It is date dependent, allowed for post-1700. See

The help above addresses family history. I haven't found where personal knowledge has been specifically addressed in help. It sure would make sense to me that the rule for open profiles (born more than 150 years ago, died more than 100 years ago) applied to this (or maybe 200/150 or 250/200).

I would appreciate it if you could send me a PM with some of the exact phrases and/or profile ids so that I can do some testing. (I can fake out the software to make it think they are pre1700, but do need profiles with open privacy.)

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