Yes, Star I Hate Clutter!

+7 votes

First - just to be honest, I believe I upset someone after talking with her and changing the internet generated stuff on the bio – which I probably should not have done and agree it wasn’t necessary – but I felt it was “clutter.” 

I'm not sure what the difference is between clutter and a simple source link or a basic <ref> to a source</ref>.  I have read previous clutter topics and the "tips" which are very helpful and feel I understand sourcing reasonably well.  My personal problem is my research was not online when I did it and software programs had just been invented.  When they were, I developed a method  that will send the reader where he wants to go - it may not be the easiest or most "tech savvy"  but do I have to re-do all this research to see if my records are now on line?

Ancestry gedcom clutter:  uses five lines for census sources.  I use one simple <ref> US Census, etc., etc.</ref>  If the reader doesn’t have ancestry, they can still find it easily at a library even though Drawer and Roll # are not included. I also put an ancestry or family search link if I have it. Is it necessary to add the five line sources in the bio and if you do, why put up images?  Isn't there a responsibility about "space usage.?

Frankly, censuses are the most basic source of public domain data and do not require all this additional wording.  Seriously, if there is real copyright concern, one would not be irresponsible by simply sourcing National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C: Census Rolls – as long as my <ref> says where it is</ref>

More recent generations can certainly find things on the internet faster than I can. Thanks for letting me use the soap box.  So the question is:  What is clutter if it is not internet generated? 





WikiTree profile: David McManus
in Policy and Style by Living Breece G2G6 Mach 4 (46.4k points)
recategorized by Keith Hathaway
I myself prefer to use and cite the source the way they tell us to do it. The site is free and open to anyone with an internet connection, they have a massive collection of indexed sources that is growing every day, and their citations provide a link to the indexed information and any image if it available. No you do not have to change your sources for profiles that you manage and they are fine I am sure, but be wary about removing sources from another profile or even changing the format of those sources without checking with the other managers. Sometimes what you see as clutter has meaning for others.

Thanks for the input Dale, and I agree,  I should not have done that but I hope to hear more about clutter - especially unsourced gedcom generated.  Maybe that's  the problem, just because it is an unsourced GEDCOM, a GEDCOM is considered a legitimate source?  That is what really bothers me other than all that extra typing making a bio so long.  But I appreciate your comments!  Oh, also, when I see a census on family search, it usually directs me to ancestry . . .??

Looking at the change log for that profile it doesn't seem that the stuff you deleted was gedcom generated.

You can see here that they put an outline and filled in the information in later changes.
Looks like I just learned a HUGE technical lesson!  This part did NOT come from the gedcom?  How did it get there?  Did the contributor do each one - before putting up the images? Jamie, thank you so much! BTW I have apologized to the contributor for sticking my foot in my mouth!
There is a help page under the style guide about cleaning up gedcom-created bios, but I don't think that's what you're talking about here.

The person who edited before you could have a template somewhere that she pastes into the profile. Some people do that.

Could you paste an example of what you think is "clutter"? It is true that's census citations are really obnoxious; I concur with others that using familysearch's census records (and citations) is much easier (AND free).
Why is the word "Star" in this post?

Look at the first "Related questions" question below this thread. Star Kline posted a related question. I can't help but think that Barbara, here, "responded" to Star, by creating a new question.
Thanks Jillaine :)
Thanks Jillaine and Keith I still haven't figured out "re-routing" - should I have just sent a "reply" to Star's "Do you hate clutter?"  Bet so!
You can do however you wish... what you did was great!

I was merely trying to make sure that one of our most valued community members Star was not being named in a bad way... I would have removed her name.  I can see now that it is all good stuff.

Good suggestion!

1 Answer

+3 votes
You are right, the ancestry citations are too long and self-serving.  They include their site name about 5 times each.   Just save the relevant part if  you can find any (some have none at all).

For the census, simple is good enough (year, state, county).  Including township is sometimes useful, sometimes not.  Page #, etc. isn't needed to find it online, but page or household # are occasionally useful to include when a relative is nearby.

But it sounds like you're using common sense and not falling for the internet-genealogy style of making poor sources look more authoritative by long citations that don't have much if any original data to back them up.  One source of just "Parish Register" or "Family Bible" is better than all the "" combined.
by Living Anonymous G2G6 Mach 5 (52.3k points)
Thanks for the reassurance, Mikey, I needed that.  It has all been a good experience even with a dose of humility. :)
Mikey, and Barbara, while I agree that ANY internet tree is a poor source, if it the only one we can find then it is still better than nothing. I do not have an ancestry account so anything from there is worthless to me but I will not even think about removing the Ancestry sources unless I can find a better one on my own. is an example of a GEDCOM generated profile on my watchlist and it is not only unsourced  but has no useful information in the biography section. I will improve it in the near future and it will eventually resemble this one,


Edited to make this comment understandable, I just finished cutting the grass with a bad grass allergy so I can't see straight at this time. :D

"the ancestry citations are too long and self-serving.  They include their site name about 5 times each" ... I too agree 100%. I edit them religiously, and I always search the likes of familysearch in hope I can repalce any ancestry source with one from there. If not, I remove the waffle.waffle), rubbish, and leave it as for example: 1851 Scotland Census,, Parish: Greenock West; ED: 116; Page: 14; Line: 18; Roll: CSSCT1851_120; Year: 1851. Record for (name).

I had a try with the reference you gave for the Greenock Census and think that I was able to find the person (Mary Rankin?,) The household schedule number would have been an extra help  but  think the roll number may refer to the microfilm so doesn't actually refer to the original record.

I feel that the Family Search citations (those suggested by them) are variable.  Dale has used those 'official' citations on the profile he mentions.  The first one has place, enumeration district etc. There  would be no problem in finding that record elsewhere. The third though has none of that info; not even a place.  No problem at the moment  because there is also the  link but is it futureproof ? . Family search is in it's third incarnation. I've  tried  a URL  from the printout of a1981  census entry, downloaded in 2002. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't work.( the page printout , fortunately has folio/piece/page number and exact address so I could find the entry today)  The page linked to by the third reference mentioned above also has detailed reference info. It's a shame it's not included in their suggested  reference.

There has been a lot of discussion of the best way to format sources. A lot of people seem to favour using the formatting as described in Evidence Explained.

Personally, I like the concise(ish) suggestions given by Stathclyde University  (p 26 for censuses) .

Have to admit that it is still a counsel of perfection for me . I find it hard to discipline myself to put citations into the same format each time. 


Helen, the third source citation you mention above is actually a link to the record on Ancestry and that is why the citation is "missing" the information you mention. I do agree that when we are using URL links in sources that we need to keep checking them to make sure that they work but this one works now and the "missing" information is on the linked page and could be easily added to the citation if you wanted to.

I am not saying that everyone should ONLY use citations but I think almost everyone would agree that they are more useful than the one's from for the simple fact that you do not have to pay, or travel to someplace where they pay, to view them. For those of us on a fixed income that can mean the difference between finding sources and not finding them.
Dale - not sure I can put it any better. I also use familysearch sources when possible and find their citation method to be ideal for my profiles.

Dale, I reviewed the two profiles and I wouldn't consider either of them "cluttered" and they look like they are both pending further data. I also recognized what it was that made the other seem cluttered to me.  I also checked the link to the census on family search and it worked well.  Usually I don't see the actual "link" in green in those things  . . . it helps it stand out more.  I'll work on trying some family search links.  Others are discussing FS and there are still problems, I've encountered too, causing my avoidance.  Thanks again for your input.

Helen, Thanks for the email with what looks like some excellent source reference help.  I happen to like Evidence Explained as well, and bought the book but it was an older version (didn't know) so I don't think it holds as much guidance but the purpose is clear and that's what I've tried to follow ever since.  It does help make each person or family more "living, breathing" rather than like a statistic. The links are good however, when there is nothing else.  Thanks again, I'll visit those links!

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