Should references to imported GEDCOMs be listed as sources, or just left in the history of changes?

+3 votes
Sometimes, a profile is a combination of many merged profiles, each one coming from a different GEDCOM.  In editing the Biography for the final profile, should the references to the individual GEDCOMs be kept or deleted?  The information is contained on the Changes page, so I am inclined to delete the GEDCOM references, but I'm not sure of the WikiTree norm.
in Genealogy Help by Vic Watt G2G6 Pilot (346k points)
edited by Chris Whitten

How about the reference and link to the person that uploaded the file? This should remain.

Michael's comment is exactly on point.  I'm asking about the references to the uploads, not the data.
Thanks Vic, just did not want someone to read this question and think the whole thing could be removed. Mike
Isn't the upload info in the Changes tab?

Nothing is more aggravating to a genealogist then not being able to trace information back to its original source. Proper sourcing is important, ...

Sourcing should include at a minimum:

Who is the owner of the document and when was it created.

Sourcing Your Entries

I guess the real answer as to why leave it on the page, when it is in the changes section.

Because I have to go throught the changes section copy it and paste it back on the main page. (hopefully I do not miss one)

Wiki Genealogy Honor Code. Item VII

We give credit. Although most genealogy isn't copyrighted, researchers deserve credit for the work they've done.

I think we agree that information should be sourced, and researchers given credit for their work. To me, that does not necessarily translate to leaving up who uploaded a GEDCOM. As we've seen, most of the uploaded GEDCOMs are copied from elsewhere, with little to any source citation-- i.e., no evidence of real work done by those who did the uploading.
Exactly what Jillaine said. Keeping the GEDCOM upload paragraphs is not the same as giving people credit. That's not necessarily giving the right people credit. That could mean giving credit to people who did nothing but download and uplaod a GEDCOM, while not crediting people who found the profile and actually did work to improve it (those people's names aren't on the profile page).
Yes a tough call. I use to not source any one if they had no sources posted. If the info really helped me to find documented pages I would add them as assisting.

Tough call on deleting some names here on wikitree and keeping others that perhaps have better documentation.

Question on most profiles this is not a space issue, why not leave even the amatuers posted.  If space becomes an issue this section could be abbreviated down to a list of name links. See Mayflower families.

On files I upgrade that did not have a gedcom of mine I usually add my name to a list of sources. Its a judgement call on my part.  Have had others add my name for the assistance that I have provided.


I'm editing Vic's original question headline from "GEDCOM Reference in Biography" to "Should references to imported GEDCOMs be listed as sources, or just left in the history of changes?" I think this is the question. See below for my answer or to comment on it.
I uploaded my GEDCOM back when the program to upload GEDCOMs on wikitree was a beta thing.  I want you to know that at that time it had no ability whatsoever to pick up sources from your GEDCOM.  So, mine, which at that time had over 8,000 profiles in it wound up with no sources.  I attempted to go back through all of the profiles and add back in my sources, however, I am still finding stray profiles that just say "created by GEDCOM upload on blah, blah, blah".  As a matter of fact, I even had to create a place in the NOTES section for sources on all of the profiles which I managed to update this way.  At that time, I deleted the "created by GEDOM..." notation from each of the profiles that I updated.  I tried really hard not to miss any by using my watch list to supposedly find them all.  It was quite a job, taking me over three months to complete (I thought I was done).  Consequently, I think you may be wrong in thinking that these GEDCOMs were just "copied" from elsewhere without any sources.  This may not be the case at all.  They may have been one of the early ones like mine.  I now have added almost 4,000 more profiles to wikitree, all of which have sources, and I note that now there is a place to put them.......but, do not go thinking that this was always the way that it was.


Dee D'Errico
I agree with.  Michael Lechner.  People should have the credit for what they
did, period.  But, in addition to this, without having to look any
further, on some other page, right away you have the name of another
descendant who may be worth corresponding with; and that can be
worth a lot more than a citation!

4 Answers

+3 votes
Well, I hope the norm is to delete GEDCOM references. They don't provide much helpful info, ultimately.
by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (866k points)

I don't see the value in writing out a list of people's GEDCOMs. As has been pointed out, that's in the Changes. (Although, ideally, these duplicates wouldn't have been created at all.)

I do think there's often value in saying who cited a source, e.g. including a footnote something like "as cited in MyGEDCOM.ged imported on Dec 31, 2011 by Joe Schmoe."

I myself do not care about the gedcom. Leave the linked name. However removing everyones name totally from the main page is wrong.

Leaving a footnote citing wikitreer, helps on pages with lots of input.

Should this paragraph later be removed then there would be no reference to the original contribution and no credit elsewhere on the page for someone that had contributed.

A section needs to remain such as:

=== A collaborative profile from the following  Wikitree members: ===

Michael Lechner, Chris Whitten, etc.

See changes Tab for details.

Since I'm not gedcom savvy, nor involved in projects where they are a major factor I don't have enough understanding of the issue to tender an opinion on gedcom references.

What I will say is that any profile I create (or contribute significant research to) should reference me in the bio.  Credit where credit is due for the actual work I put into it is fair, and should not be relegated to sorting through entries on the changes tab.  If someone in the family lines I've worked so hard on is merged with another profile, I expect both my contribution and the contribution of the other profile's creator to attributed.  I think that's fair, and I don't think it's too much to ask.  It's not a question of ownership, it's a question of acknowledgement for effort.

Again, I can't weigh in on gedcom references per the original post.  All of my contributions to WikiTree are hand-entered.  Perhaps this discussion should be split.

- Mike
Michael Gabbard,

I don't think anyone is suggesting not acknowledging people who have contributed research. I don't think a separate topic needs to be created about that (or maybe others do...?)  What we're talking about here is removing references to GEDCOMs from the narrative. (At least, that's what I think we're talking about...)
I suggested the split because there do seem to be two different topics in the comments, one relating specifically to the original post, and one that strays into new territory - although that may have arisen from a misunderstanding.

Do you deserve credit in the bio if you add something to the profile, or just if you create a duplicate and then it's merged?

If we want to credit only those who create duplicates, we're encouraging people to do something we never want done on WikiTree.
So, clearly, the issue is whether or not to list everyone who contributes to a profile in the sources section of the profile.
It would be ridiculous to list everyone who has ever had the person in their GEDCOM. We could end up listing thousands of descendants.
Therefore, we'd only want to list people who contribute something new, not those who could or did add something that someone else had already added. 
It does make sense to list everyone who contributed something new, along with exactly what they contributed and when they contributed it. This is what the Changes page is for.
But the Changes page is not sufficient if someone is writing a conclusion that they themselves didn't come to, or citing a source that they themselves didn't see. In those cases the person who did the research should be credited. It's not just a matter of "credit", it's good sourcing.
However, even these sources should get edited over time. If I add "1920 census, as cited by Becky Syphers in her GEDCOM" as a source, and another WikiTreer comes along who can confirm that the fact is in the 1920 census she can remove the part about Becky.
What is missing from the WikiTree application of wikiness is the Watch list. Over at WeRelate, this serves as a way to let readers know who is interested in and watching the profile page, and if anything changes on the page, those Watchers are notified. Not the same as contributors, but does let viewers and contributors know who else is interested in this person. On WeRelate, if I upload a GEDCOM, I'm automatically set to watch every page I've uploaded. But I understand that this is resource intensive for some reason (on the back-end software).

I like Michael Lechner's use (at least I think it was him who started it) of a "Contributors to this Profile" at the bottom of the profile page (above the footnotes) for those people who contribute to the maintenance of the content of the page-- cleaning it up, making it readable, checking and adding sources, merging dupes, etc.

Then of course, if specific research resulted in specific findings, those should be sourced/referenced in the text as appropriate footnotes.

Hi Jillaine. A profile's Trusted List serves most of the purposes you're describing as the Watch list on WeRelate.

+1 vote

"What I will say is that any profile I create (or contribute significant research to) should reference me in the bio.  Credit where credit is due for the actual work I put into it is fair, and should not be relegated to sorting through entries on the changes tab.  If someone in the family lines I've worked so hard on is merged with another profile, I expect both my contribution and the contribution of the other profile's creator to attributed.  I think that's fair, and I don't think it's too much to ask.  It's not a question of ownership, it's a question of acknowledgement for effort." by Michael Gabbard

Front page credit a must.
Removing all credits with out standards, unacceptable.
Deleting all the text in bio field, replacing it with something else and not crediting earlier posts unacceptable.

by Living Lechner G2G6 Mach 6 (64.1k points)

If I understand this correctly the page for Edmund Rice should now show the proper format?

Michael L., looks like you removed the contributors, yes? I'm feeling you may have gone too far. That profile in particular involved a lot of work by a few people (myself and you included), and I concur with others that it's appropriate to acknowledge such people.

I just can't get excited about acknowledging/listing all the uploaders, unless it's clear from what they uploaded that they put a lot of work into what they uploaded.

That said, if you and others feel that it's just too difficult/challenging to differentiate uploaders from clear contributors, and NO one should get acknowledged, then well, I can live with that, but I think somehow acknowledging the hard work of contributors is a good thing and should be preserved and promoted.
Do what you wish with that profile. I will not be a part of this. Thanks Mike
I've re-read all of this thread, and I don't think we've reached a conclusion. I see a lot of differences in opinion and preference. I haven't even seen Chris lay down a final decision on the matter (if that's how decisions are made here).

But I'm very concerned that a highly (!!!) productive contributor to WikiTree has reached the conclusion "I will not be part of this." Not good.
If you are going to suggest merges be honest. Inform the other party you intend to make changes to the profile, their data will be deleted and their name will be removed from the front page. merge just completed with valid data from another wikitreer. Only reference to his/her contribution is in gedcom merge section and of course the changes page. Knowing that the gedcom section will be removed how could you do this. Noticed your name as a source remains.
Of course you could say his file was a recent upload and we allready had the info. What about the person that first uploaded this particular info, found it they are in the section to be deleted as well.

Sorry this looks to be critical of one person. This is what happens when genealogy standards are not followed. When WikiTree is compared to standards of a non genealogy site Wikipedia. A genealogy site such as Edmund Rice Assoc. Cites contributions by others.

Our page for this Rice ancestor is far better because of the collaborative research of many. All should be properly credited. These pages should not be setup by free labor, for the benifit of a few but all that contribute.
Actually on the Henry rice page you link to I left the data as it was.
And as I've said before, I will abide by whatever decision is reached about if/how to list uploaders of gedcoms. Michael Lechner and others, my apologies for all that's resulted.
+1 vote
The more I think about this, the more I think it's important to include some reference on the front page to the GEDCOM upload.  A GEDOM is, at the heart, a secondary source.  They vary in quality, much like every other secondary source, but they are the result of someone's work, and should be given credit.  Trying to determine the quality of the GEDCOM is pretty subjective and I would think that the default should be "leave a reference".

If space becomes a concern on larger profiles, I think we've already been shown the answer - use a div with overflow, such as at the Middle East Category page (I assume that html will work just as well in a bio as it does on a Category page) and source things there.

I think any removal of GEDCOM reference should be an exception, and the editor should be prepared to defend why that GEDCOM was not worthy of a cite.  In general this shouldn't even be worth the effort of doing and the GEDCOM reference should just be left.  It's much better to over-cite than under-cite, right?

This isn't wikipedia - wikipedia is by definition not supposed to be independent research and conclusions.  But genealogy *is* independent research and conclusions; we're taking what facts we can find (this name is listed as a parent in this census record, this birth record, this will, this obituary, etc) and drawing what conclusions we can.  Sometimes with more confidence that others, but drawing conclusions just the same.  Because of that critical difference, the citing rules must be different here than they are at wikipedia as well.
by Stephen Haley G2G6 Mach 2 (24.8k points)
I'd just like to paraphrase one of Chris' points from above, which I think is one of the best points made here: For a given profile, every GEDCOM uploaded after the first one shouldn't have been uploaded. All those people created duplicates, which you aren't supposed to do. So why should we give credit to those who are not following the honour code?

I also still stand by my point that GEDCOM uploaders are not the only contributors. I have never uploaded a GEDCOM. Aside from the 1000 or so profiles I've manually created, a lot of my edits are on other people's profiles. There's no automatic line on the profile about my contributions there. But aren't they as important as the GEDCOM upload? Listing the uploaders just seems like a really arbitrary attempt at crediting contributors to me. The Changes page does a much more thorough job of it.

They shouldn't have created a duplicate, but they DID submit research to the site.  We give credit to the research submitted and then correct the mistake that duplicate profiles were created.

Of course GEDCOM uploaders aren't the only contributors.  I've never uploaded a GEDCOM either, but I have over 1200 profiles on my watch list, the overwhelming majority created by myself.  And the ones I created had the text "Steve Haley, firsthand knowledge. See the Changes page for the details of edits by Steve and others." added automatically to the profile.  For profiles where I don't add to the "Sources" section on the creation page, I see that's still true - perhaps there should be a line left in for every create, which is a different question.

In my mind, the biggest difference is that a GEDCOM is a *source* all by itself.  Someone already created it.  When I enter things into wikitree manually, I'm creating wikitree and *I* am the source.  When I upload a GEDCOM, the GEDCOM is the source.  In my mind, "p36, History of LASTNAME in LOCATION, by AUTHOR McAUTHORSON" is no more valid than "GEDCOM ABCD1234, provided to wikitree by user USERNAME", and we cite the first.  Why wouldn't we cite the second?

And at the end of the day...what are we trying to solve by deleting them?  Clutter?  Again, I say - if the page is overcluttered, then box off the Sources page with a "overflow" box and a scroll bar.  Put all the GEDCOM uploads into a single section in the Sources section, if you like.  But leave them there!

0 votes


Rather than commenting on the various threads, I'm writing my answer to this question.
The answer is: sometimes.
A GEDCOM can be a source or mentioned as part of a source citation.
A GEDCOM isn't a good source. It's obviously not a primary source, and it can't be independently verified. But if it's the best that's currently available, there's nothing wrong with listing it until better sources can be listed.
If a primary or secondary source comes from a GEDCOM, and you have not independently verified the source, it's good to include a mention of the GEDCOM in the source citation. For example, you might write "as cited in XYZ.ged uploaded on December 16, 2012, by Joe Schmoe."
If the question is whether a profile should have a list of members who have the person in their GEDCOM, the answer is no.
Such a list would promote the creation of duplicates because we'd only be listing members who have the person in their GEDCOM and created a duplicate on WikiTree, not those members who have the person in their GEDCOM but did not create a duplicate.
If instead we wanted to include all people who have the person in their GEDCOM, the list would be infinitely long and meaningless. Anyone can add a person to their GEDCOM. It means nothing in itself.
If the question is whether a profile could have a new list of contributors, see this new question: Should we add Acknowledgements sections to profiles?
by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)

I would never have thought the discussion of "authorship" would have generated so many opinions.  When I merge two profiles, I try to maintain some mention of 'who dun it', usually in the form of what GEDCOM has been imported. I do not delete any names of contributors, but do not add my own if I'm only merging and cleaning up. 

It seems from the discussion that ownership in the form of acknowledgement is hoped for by most contributors, so yes, an Acknowledgement Section would be in order. If someone doesn't want credit, they can 'not sign the profile' but they are going to have a listing in the Trusted List, anyway. 

I like the point about using GEDCOMs as sources until better sources are available. It just seems silly to me to cite GEDCOMs as sources on a profile where every fact has a footnote linking to a census, vital record, etc. Just like I would delete links to Ancestry trees once better sources are available. Why cite secondary sources when you have primary ones?

Example of proper sourcing and citation added for Edmund Rice

Dee Christophel D'Errico, "D'Errico Family History", Wikitree, Feb. 2010, Mar. 2010, Oct. 2012.

Until such time as this can be accomplished suggest leaving credit as it is (Gedcom reference).

Citing section may need modification.

Are we sure gedcom references to multi merges are saved and accessible? I did not see my old merge perhaps it is there, or perhaps I did not have one for this page.

Thank you Lianne, "using GEDCOMs as sources until better sources are available."

At least until we can determine if there was info of value in the GEDCOM it was sourced, etc and then give credit to individual that provided this info.

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