Different ways of tagging unsourced profiles - do they mean anything?

+7 votes

There are a number of ways in which unsourced profiles may be marked, which have different appearances in the profile itself, and different effects in the unsourced profile report. I think I can identify four, and I wonder if there is any intention or policy behind their differences. (I couldn't find any.)

The least visually intrusive is to add [[Category: Oxfordshire, Unsourced Profiles]] to the profile. It only shows up as a "normal" category on the profile (so barely at all) and it's added to the names listed on the category page. When I remove it from the profile, it instantly disappears from the category page (which seems good to me.) It will remain in the WikiTree+ report until that is rebuilt, as one would expect.

Then there are profiles tagged with the {{Unsourced}} research note box. They have an intentionally intrusive box displayed on the profile. 

If this research note box is added as {{Unsourced|Oxfordshire}}, then it behaves much like the explicit category, but with a visual impact on the profile.

If just {{Unsourced}} is used, then the profile is visually marked, and provided the place of birth or death includes "Oxfordshire" _and_ "England", it appears in a different WikiTree+ report, but not the name list in the category page - I can understand why.

There seems to be a fourth category though: profiles that use {{Unsourced}} but where the birth place just includes "Oxfordshire": for example, [[Boyce-1073]]. Then the profile is visually marked as unsourced, but doesn't seem to be on any list or report on the Oxfordshire, Unsourced Profiles category page. You can still find it by explicit searching on WikiTree+, but otherwise it is hidden from what I treat as the normal lists of unsourced Oxfordshire profiles. It's not here or here I think.(I could be wrong about the precise way this set of profiles is defined, but it does exist as a set; I changed all the 19th century ones to include England in their placename fields, so they wouldn't be lost.)

Is this just accidental? Is there a policy-based reason to favour category over research note box, or vice versa? Obviously not everything has to have a reason, but if there's something I'm missing...

in Policy and Style by Paul Betteridge G2G6 (6.3k points)
The place of birth/death/marriage in the data fields does not affect the {{Unsourced}} template.  Only if you add a parameter such as {{Unsourced|Oxfordshire}} will it.

The basic {{Unsourced}} is (usually) used if the place is unknown, or there is doubt about the place.

You can also add second parameters such as {{Unsourced|Victoria|Lancashire}}, which allows the profile to be access by those working on Australian profiles, as well as those working on English ones.
The unsourced tagging is probably the most ill used tool in the Wikitree armoury. Used wrongly it must be the thing that loses more newcomers than anything else. Probably all the outer edges of the Wikitree  are in truth unsourced. It is surely better to add the phrase "derived from the record of xxxxx then add a triumphant "Unsourced". It would do wonders to the friendly feel of Wikitree if a more measured approach was used.
Chris: I have a lot of sympathy with your point of view.

I think part of that more measured approach could be the more restrained visual appearance of the category over the template. But care in adding and care in fixing is also needed.

When I look at people's contribution history, it's striking that many give up after a month or so and a hundred or two hundred contributions. It is (can be) hard work, and every discouragement that can be avoided should be.

My current view is: prefer fixing over tagging; tag only what I will fix myself (soonish); tag with a category rather than a template, so as not to shout at people.

Some of the boundaries I still have trouble with. For example, 19th century emigrants to Australasia, or 17th century emigrants to North America, may have the same name as a person born in England, but it can very quite hard to be sure you are really ”adding sources” to the same person. (I am assuming that in a sense their real identity is their "new country" identity, because that is usually what gets them added to WikiTree in the first place.) Similar problems occur even if people never leave their birthplace.
Chris, the sources FAQ specifies when the unsourced research notes box should be used. Additional criteria are found on the help for Pre1700 profiles (e.g., family tree, others by project.) And, any newcomer should have agreed to the Honor Code (item VIII). Misuse might be applying the Unsourced template outside these criteria.
I agree with a more measured approach. The big intrusive UNSOURCED banner appears immediately, and I wonder if it could be programmed to appear after, say, 30 days, especially for new members.....most of the unsourced stuff I'm working on has been there for 5-10 years!
Pam, the unsourced banner has to be manually entered. It doesn't automatically appear, other than some over zealous people entering it as well as uncertain family and unproven proven templates.

Showing 3 large big messages on one profile with no sources Is not a friendly manner, for sure, but I have seen people doing that to multiple profiles created by the same person.
I complained about this a few months ago when I was helping a newbie build her tree and was told it (the unsourced banner) happens automatically!

It does.  I showed that with an example profile.


When you create a new profile, you get to select which type of source you will add.  If you select the "source will be added" option, the unsourced template is an automatic addition to the profile.  See https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Alderdice-63

That must be fairly new, but that is great. Of course, they can just go in and remove it, as I have seen people do when we manually add them.
@Pam. The only problem with 30 days is that within 3 days someone can add hundreds of unsourced profiles (many pre1700) with many of them duplicates. It's a difficult line to walk between being too intrusive but getting someone on the right track or them ending up with thousands of profiles to go back and rework thus getting discouraged.

From what I have seen, the Unsourced template is applied when a new profile is created and the creator selects "Sources will be added by"
I see your point.....I still wish we were limiting the size of GEDcom's people can upload - especially new people....but I don't disagree with the assertion that there is a risk..... however, people can still add hundreds of unsourced profiles even if the sticker is there....do you think the sticker is a deterrent??
I like the unsourced maintenance box, although I'll admit I was shocked, ''shocked'' when I first saw one on one of my own managed profiles-- and hurried to remedy it. At the same time the box puts the profile in a category where, thanks to the Source-a-thons, it will likely get needed attention, it tells the perhaps unwary googling reader not to take it as gospel, that the profile is not (yet) up to WikiTree standards.

4 Answers

+8 votes

You can add up to 2 'locations' with the Unsourced template {{Unsourced}}, as shown in your 3rd example.  That will generate an entry in the 'related' category, as you said.

It is better to add the locations with the Unsourced template, so they will show up in the Category for 'unsourced' profiles in that location.  

The purpose of using the template on profile pages is so that it is 'obvious' that there are no sources attached to a profile, ie they need to be added. That template is manually added and must be manually removed when sources have been added. If only the Category is added, there is no visual indication on a profile.

Suggestions from Wikitree+ use different criteria.  It isn't looking at the Category, I don't think, but Ales would have to confirm. 

If Oxfordshire is in a location without England, then the location should be updated to include England.  There could be other Oxfordshire locations in the world, other than England, so that assumption is 'probably' not done with the Suggestions for that location in your 4th option.

This is the Category Breakdown for Unsourced Profiles

by Linda Peterson G2G6 Pilot (624k points)
I think that both templates and categories inform the WikiTree+ reports: for example, in this report https://www.softdata.si/wt/Unsourced_20200920/ENG_OXF/1_1800-1899_0.htm the profile Garret-78 appears because it has the category, not the template. (As well as looking at the profile, you can observe the absence of T:Unsourced in the right hand column.)

Although I don't think there are any other places called Oxfordshire, that certainly isn't true for other English counties. So I can see why I need to change the place fields - but I was surprised when I "discovered" the behaviour.

In some ways, I think I have good reasons to favour a less intrusive way of marking profiles: if I come across an Oxfordshire profile without sources while browsing and I tag it as unsourced, I am (more or less) sending a message from me, to me, that it ought to be fixed; it's so I don't forget to do it. I don't expect anyone else to provide sources, and I don't need to shout at the profile manager to fix the profile. If there is no firm policy, I think I can carry on doing as I think best.

Thank you for the category breakdown - that is interesting.

Suggestions are 'coded' by Ales.  If you add a tag for Ales, he will see the Question and could answer when he sees it.

For the Unsourced Suggestion for Oxfordshire, it looks like he is using the 

  • Unsourced Template with Oxfordshire included in it
  • Unsourced Template with no location included in it, but the Birth and / or Death Locations have Oxfordshire 'and' England, since the profiles with only Oxfordshire are not included.  
  • Category for Oxfordshire, Unsourced Profiles

Ales has added a combination of locations for some Suggestions so that it excludes other areas, such as if there is another Oxfordshire.  Maybe, Ales can change it to only have Oxfordshire, instead of including England. Oxfordshire may be an example where it is not a location in multiple 'countries, etc', but there are plenty of other locations that are used in Europe and in United States and in the United States, it could be used in multiple states. 

As far as using the Unsourced template on profiles, wikitree recommends that it be added to profiles that don't have any sources.  You never know 'who' is going to come across a profile that has no sources, so it is helpful for others to see the reminder that this profile needs sources.  Data Doctors are normally 'recommended' that they add the Unsourced template while working through Suggestions. 

Linda: thank you for your answer/comments. It has been really helpful in sorting out my understanding, to have a conversation. I am fairly sure that "Oxfordshire" per se occurs nowhere else (obviously not true for all English counties), but once the problem is known, it is no longer a problem, I think. More problematic are "Oxon", a latinate abbreviation for the county (which does also arise in "Oxon Hill, Maryland"), and "Oxford" used as a county name, which is arguably not wrong, but is ambiguous w.r.t. the city, and is a name that has spread widely (for some reason), so would be hard to treat in the same way as Oxfordshire.

Since I also do depend a lot on searching by county name when checking for duplicates or possible links to the global tree, it strengthens my thinking that more consistency in place names data is part of the answer to my original question, at least for Oxfordshire.
+9 votes
I also want to remind people that when Wikitree started we did not have the templates, we just had the categories, so you will run into profiles with lots of categories and no template.
by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (752k points)
+6 votes

Here one can see how WT+ classifies Oxfordshire profiles as unsourced: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:DBE_Unsourced#Oxfordshire

But please note that whatever way "unsourced" is determined there are far more profiles actually unsourced. Just take a sample of neveredited profiles to find plenty...

by Living Terink G2G6 Pilot (276k points)
My understanding is that of the more than 24M profiles, more than 1M are marked unsourced.

It would be interesting to run the results of a query for Oxfordshire through my tool to find profiles possibly unsourced but not marked.
Jan: the neveredited query is interesting (almost no end to the wonders of WikiTree+), and I'm certainly aware that many unsourced profiles are not tagged as such; old Oxfordshire profiles seem to get tagged at a rate that means one never runs out of tagged ones, but if I went looking, I would/could find very many more.

Kay: I suppose that the reported numbers of "Oxfordshire" profiles and Oxfordshire profiles tagged as unsourced are roughly in proportion to those for the whole of WikiTree. I suppose it would be interesting to have an idea of the number of possibly unsourced profiles, as a kind of upper bound.

The profiles that frighten me are not the unsourced ones usually, but the ones with thousands of characters of gedcom import mush, that may contain zero facts, a few facts, or a whole hidden biography.

WikiTree_AGC is a good way to deal with GEDCOM Junk and clutter.

Another way to find unflagged/unidentified/lost unsourced or poorly sourced profiles (and often profiles lacking headings) is to search wikitree+ using lasteditYYYY. To do this, modify the search Jan gave you above, replacing neveredited with lastedit2010 (or 2011 or 2012 or 2013 or 2014). The Dutch group has been using these searches (with the addition of 19cen or 20cen) profiles and adding unsourced in preparation for the sourceathon. I would rather just source them, but we want them to count for the thon. :-)
AGC is a great way to cleanup GEDCOM.

The WikiTree+ query is very powerful and a great tool. I am planning on using this to get profiles to check with the app I am working on to look at the biography to find possibly unsourced. Unfortunately it won't be ready before SourceAThon. I checked 5000 orphaned profiles born in 1875 and 2 generations of relatives of unsourced finding 1300 to look at, about 500 or so were unsourced, most just a very old GEDCOM import.
Aaron: I had a quick look at AGC and it seems a remarkably useful thing. So thank you for that suggestion.

Jan, Kay, W Robertson: Re WikiTree+ queries: I think I would be more likely to use lastedit<nnnn> than neveredited, because for those 19th century profiles I would be most interested in finding, a fairly high proportion of the neveredited ones (for Oxfordshire) have been created in the last year or two by people I would trust to source (including myself ;-) ). WikiTree+ is a great tool, and I already have a number of queries stored in my Nav Home Page scratch pad.

Querying "neveredited" sorted by creation would have the top results like lastedit thru 2018, whereas one can only get lastedit query for years thru 2014.

I noticed sort order is only returned correct when "Max Profiles" is set such that it covers 100% of the resultset.
Jan: ok, that's my mistake really, because I semi-automatically change the sort order to birth date. But you are right, creation date is the way to go.

I had noticed that when you use the "You can extend the search to ..." link the results are not sorted. The sort order just doesn't appear in the linked URL - hard to tell if that is intentional. One can just add it to the URL by hand, I suppose.
Oh, this helps clarify the mangled sorting I was seeing when I didn't do this! Thank you for the tips
0 votes
Which version of Unsourced are we working on for the upcoming Source-A-Thon?
by Cindy Cooper G2G6 Pilot (223k points)
Not sure what you mean, Cindy, but I think the answer is "all versions." Any profile that qualifies as Unsourced also qualifies for the Source-a-thon, even if it isn't tagged as such by the template or a category. Conversely, if the Unsourced tag is on a profile, but it already has a source, then it does not qualify for the challenge. In that case, you would remove the Unsourced tag from the profile without counting it for the point.

Does that answer your question?
Yes.  It doesn't have to have the {{Unsourced}} tag to qualify.  The system counts just by the addition of a source?  How does it know that?

There is a challenge tracker button that you have to click after adding a source and saving the profile. I can't show it to you now because the challenge isn't active. See this instruction:

Adding Sources and Counting Sourced Profiles 

Hope that helps!

Joyce, now that you mention it I do know what you are talking about.  I've tried using those and never been able to validate that it works (adds to my tally).  I know the tally isn't real time, but it does update quite frequently, enough to do a test.  I can try again for this upcoming one.  In any case I can just stick with working the officially Unsourced profiles, we have plenty of them.
Even for the officially Unsourced, you'll need to use the challenge tracker. The only way the Thon can distinguish between a source contribution to an unsourced profile and any other edit is if you tell it so. If you don't use the challenge tracker, none of your contributions will count towards the Thon.

If you want to validate, just do a handful of profiles, say 5, using the challenge tracker for each. Then check the tracking progress table. It should show how many you've done, and has a "Tracking" link next to your name so you can view your list. It updates every 5 minutes, so wait a couple of minutes and refresh the table if they don't appear right away.
Yes Joyce, that's exactly how I tried to validate mine.  Probably repeated this about 10+ times over multiple challenges, with no counting happening.  I drank lots of tea waiting, but no luck on the counts.  In fact, I did it so often with no success that I gave up on ever using those boxes.  Maybe this time I'll start out fresh and try again. I could have someone look at it if I'm still experiencing the same problem.

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