What does the ideal profile look like?

+8 votes
Some people in the user groups have started discussing the stylistic issues of developing WikiTree profiles, so I thought I'd post the question here to get more people involved.

So, what do you think the perfect profile looks like? Do you follow some kind of pattern when developing your profiles, so that they all share a certain look? Are there any standards you think everyone should follow to make WikiTree profiles as helpful as possible?

Here's a profile that several people have used as an example of a very well-done profile: http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Oxley-34
in Genealogy Help by Liander Lavoie G2G6 Pilot (430k points)

3 Answers

+2 votes
Best answer

As others have already mentioned, one uniform style is probably not possible.  I think Oxley-34 is great, but Paul obviously has a lot of biographical information for that ancestor, and that's very often not the case, especially as we move back in time, but even with some relatively recent ancestors.

I wrote here before about the messiness that people have to deal with after merges and the need for some help in cleaning those things up.  The bio section is really a subset of that issue and the style questions would come up in that discussion whether we were dealing with a merged profile or not.

I think showing people the various options, rather than prescribing one particular style, would be the best way to treat this.

To give a specific example of my preferences; I'm slowly getting rid of the <ref></ref> footnotes in the profiles I manage.  The reason I'm doing this is that those footnotes give you a superscript number (e.g., [1]), that links to a reference at the bottom of the section, but that reference isn't really the source.  Rather, it provides another link that references the actual source above it.  So it's two steps to find the actual source.  I'm substituting, (Source: [[#S1]]), which takes you directly to the sources and I'm putting any pertinent notes with that source.

I guess there should be some don'ts in a style guide, but I think the profile managers should have some flexibility to use a style that makes sense to them, and fits for the individual being profiled.

by Fred Remus G2G6 Mach 4 (41.0k points)
selected by Living Barnett
I definitely agree that profiles managers should have flexibility. I'm not really looking for hard and fast rules that people have to follow. It would just be nice to have a page people can go to to get ideas and inspiration to improve their profiles.

The problem I have with getting rid of footnotes altogether is that often, as Erin mentioned above, a fact will have multiple sources supporting it, and also, you may have notes that have to do with that fact, and not any particular source. For example, I have lots of profiles where the birth date is different in different sources, so I'll have something like this in the profile: "Mary was probably born on May 5 1879.<ref>This is the date on her tombstone and the 1881 and 1891 censuses, though the 1901 census has May 1880.</ref>" That kind of explanation can't really go with one of the sources.
I actually DO put all those notes with the source citation when I make the changes I described - matter of style.
+3 votes

I believe a Timeline is really important (which I like in the Oxley profile) but I like to link to world or country events which help to provide context for someones life rather than restricting timeline content to life events only.

Personally, I don't like sources in footnotes. I prefer to have external links to sources, inline with the details of the events.

A life story is really nice but sometimes major events (revolutions, ship voyages, etc) or places (churches, etc) that could be related to a lot of profiles should be separated from the individual profile as separate pages, in their own right.

Examples, to illustrate the above:




Just my two cents.


by Wombat Allen G2G6 Mach 2 (22.2k points)
I agree with you on the timelines. I've seen a few of those recently, and I think they add a lot to the profile. I like your idea of adding major world/country events to the timeline to provide context. I hadn't thought of that!

I personally prefer sources in footnotes rather than inline citations, but that's not necessarily something that has to be consistent across all profiles (as long as everyone is at least citing sources in some way).

I also agree that major events should have their own pages. Those can really clutter up a person's profile page, and it would probably be useful to multiple profiles to have the information somewhere where any profile can link to it.

Great suggestions!

Sourcing on WikiTree is something that is probably going to be impossible to set a style guide for because everyone has their own preferences and comfort level with citations. I prefer to have sources in footnotes. Not every ancestor is going to have a fleshed out profile, either because there aren't very many sources for them or because there are a lot of sources that mostly say the same thing. I have a lot of folks in my tree where I can find ten documents that tell me not much more than he was a farmer and how many acres of land he had. Having it link inline would be awkward; there's no elegant way to say that So-And-So was a farmer on 160 acres and have it link to three censuses, a land deed and a will, without footnotes.
I'm working on improving the biography section of one of my Acadian profiles: http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Richard-74

I've added a Timeline section, with just the basics in it so far.

I also got rid of the subsections, like === Birth === and === Marriage ===. I think it looks nicer in more of an essay format.

Let me know what you think!

I like it - it looks clean and crisp.
+2 votes

Are there any standards you think everyone should follow to make WikiTree profiles as helpful as possible?

One thing stands out for me: Lack of sources. At a minimum, unless you do have first hand knowledge, the automatic blurb should be deleted. Perhaps on new profiles that are manually entered, we could have another blurb that says something like "New profile, sources coming soon" signed with the creator's name and timestamp, just as a reminder to add sources even if you aren't writing a history right away. I don't care if all it has is a few citations of some censuses or a note saying "My mum met her great-grandma McProfile and said she lived her whole life in Anytown", it's just nice to have some context for the existence of the profile.

by Living B G2G4 (4.5k points)
I agree with you about sources.  I've seen "first-hand knowledge" on people born in the 18th century.  Hmmm... don't think so. :-)

Sometimes sources are pretty weak.  I really try to find fairly solid, credible sources for my ancestors, but sometimes there's nothing but somebody's unsupported family tree as a source.  If I can't find anything else to confirm or contradict that source, I'll sometimes go ahead and put it in my tree and consider it provisional until I find better information.  When I do that, I'll say something like, "From the So-and-So Family History page [url]."  It may not be well-supported, but at least it tells people where the information came from.

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