Sources, sources, who has the sources?

+39 votes

I just finished up my weekly Rangering session. When I was done, I did some very informal research to get an idea of what percentage of people are adding sources to newly created profiles.

I'm sorry to say that Unsourced profiles are winning over Sourced profiles by a margin of 57% to 43% -- if every hour is typical to the one that I sampled.

From those that are sourced, I'm seeing a lot of things like:

  • 1930 Census
  • Death record
  • Find-a-Grave
  • Grandpa

In other words, there are "sources," but they aren't descriptive enough to be of value. Most new people are so used to working in a bubble with their family history, I'm sure they just don't think about the fact that other people are going to need to understand the information they're putting on their profiles.

I don't want to sound like I'm complaining -- I love that people are here documenting their family history. I bring this up because there has to be a way to encourage and educate people to provide not only sources, but sources that mean something.

So, how about a little brainstorming session? Throw out some ideas on how we can educate and indoctrinate new people -- and some not so new people :-) -- into a culture of accuracy!! Go ahead ... don't be shy ... let's be creative!!

Caveat: Be nice. I mean it!

Proposed Ideas

  1. When the "Add New Person" is clicked without there being sources and an entry in either the birth or death Date and Place, that it doesn't add the profile, defaulting to an informative page on how and why these details are important to WikiTree's goal. -- Patricia
  2. Perhaps we should try to lead them to some of the free sites like familysearch and encourage them to use the source citations that are given for each source. -- Dale
  3. Put a greyed-out example in the bio area that gets replaced when someone types in something proper. -- Ros
  4. Prevent creation of profiles without sources. -- Michael
  5. Revise sourcing guidelines / help pages -- Eric
in Policy and Style by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (495k points)
edited by Julie Ricketts

How about, if when the "Add New Person" is clicked without there being sources and an entry in either the birth or death Date and Place, that it doesn't add the profile, defaulting to an informative page on how and why these details are important to WiliTree's goal.

I have been updating my sources for profiles that I uploaded from Gedcom,

In my watch list, I am looking at other members profiles, but continually disappointed that they do not put in the country of birth or death.  And when they ask for help on G2G, how can anyone help them if they do not provide enough information on the place of birth and death of the individual?
That's idea #1, Patricia!

Thank you!!

I think I'll start a list of our ideas on my original post, so that we can spur some more. :-)
Perhaps we should try to lead them to some of the free sites like familysearch and encourage them to use the source citations that are given for each source. I know that not everyone likes these sites or their citations but if we keep it simple then possibly more will add sources and we can worry about making them better later.
Love it, Dale!

I agree.  It is very important to at least list the country of birth.  I am interestred in profiles from the Åland Islands.  I will often look at all names which appear Swedish. e.g. Englund.  I then look to see which might be Finnish and in particular from Åland.  Without the birth country this is much more difficult.

"When the "Add New Person" is clicked without there being sources and an entry in either the birth or death Date and Place, that it doesn't add the profile..."

When I add children to parents already in the Tree, I usually give them their date and place of birth (+take a few moments to check out suggested matches) - but I don't add the source when I create them. I do that when I go in and edit them, immediately afterwards. And why? Well, because that way I get the little freebie help with the bio, that includes links to the parents. You don't get that when you put sources in the source field upon creation.

Second that, Eva. While I agree with the need to get people to put sources on their profiles, everything that saves keystrokes when you have a large genealogy collection to put on WikiTree should not get sacrificed in the process.
Yeah Michael (no source-no profile)

Wiki Tree does not need useless profiles which is what an unsourced profile is.
I started another thread with another example along with a more detailed explanation of how it is done here

Feel free to check it out and see if it would help with leading others to sourcing.
That was my thought as well, you cannot add a profile without at least one source. I think it is a great idea.

13 Answers

+16 votes
I will be brave with this answer because I am sure that there will a lot of members who do not like my sources, but this is one profile I worked on this morning, , but all of the information came from and the source citations were just copy and paste from their recommended wording. The hardest part was "writing" the biography and making the sources inline references, but the last part is now easier with the add sources button on the edit page. There is still more to be done on this profile but with about 1000 profiles on my watchlist that are like this one was before I started, Just a "source" of  the GEDCOM uploaded by ... in 2011 and never touched after that I try to do as many as I can with at least one source each day.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
For an Idea about what the profile above looked like prior to my editing see this profile,

Looks good Dale.  I have one comment.  Instead of using Family Search to reference Find-a-Grave, go there directly and provide a link to her site.  It has a nice picture of her grave marker.  One of my objectives in sourcing is to lead and educate others to available sources.

Norm, On some profiles I do directly link to find a grave, but until at least late tomorrow my internet connection is not great and that along with the long list of profiles on here that are at least connected to me by marriage  and look like the before example I gave, at this time I am taking the fastest way of adding sources and going with where I find them first. I hope to get back to these and make them even better but even this is, to me at least, a big improvement over what it looked like when I started. I just found out that the tree of my ancestors on another site is much more complete and even has better sources on another site that I use but at this time I have decided not to add them here as I have more on my list than I care to work with at this time.

There is only so much I can do in one day.
That's awesome, Dale, and a huge improvement!! :-)

When you take the time to flesh out sources like that, someone else who likes to write biographies can come along and fill it in pretty quickly. Well done!

Oh, hey! You should put the maintenance category on for that! You might get some help. :-)
It's really a huge improvement Dale , thanks for the great work you do !
As I mentioned to Norm in a private message this line is a briar patch with a lot of intermarriage and even quite a few duplicates that I am trying to sort out prior to worrying about the reformatting of sources or even better biography's. I have found a woman who married 2 brothers and several close cousins marrying and just yesterday morning someone who should have known better changed a name on one of the profiles from this line without adding a source for the information. This is my son in laws line and I would like to sort out the mess and make sure of the facts first then worry about making it look "pretty".
Dale, your citations are fine. What kind of complaints do you get about them?
Jillian, I am not going to shift the focus of this thread to the complaints. the only purpose of the example is to show how using a simple free site and just putting in their recommended citations makes for a very easy improvement.
+13 votes

Like Dale I have developed my own style.  I have been using the Hiski Project (a free source),ArkivDigital (a subscription source for Swedish language places), and Håkan Skogsjö.  I believe my profile should have links to my actual sources and also links to specific references in my sources. I try to err on the side of too much information.  Anyone who reads a profile of mine should easily be able to check my data.  I prefere data to narrative so I leave out narrative.  An example worked on today would be Samuel Gustaf Nordlund.

by Norm Lindquist G2G6 Mach 7 (76.0k points)
edited by Norm Lindquist
Thanks, Norm! :-)

When I find a profile with just Ancestry sources and add sources I do it as fot Mats Erikson. This shows both the before and after.  I will put it back to my final change in a few days.

At least that told you that the ancestry source was public trees.  I keep seeing profiles that just list "" or "ancestry."  That's it, no clue as to whether it's trees or databases or wishful thinking.  ;-)
+12 votes
Is there a tech way of putting a greyed-out example in the bio area that gets replaced when someone types in something proper? (many desktop genealogy programs already do this) and setting up a heading in the bio area like ==Sources==

So, say you were entering a brand-new profile.  When you came to it, there would already be a heading of ==Sources==, and directly under it (in grey) the wording "example: baptism register of Washfield via findmypast" (which disappears when you type over it).

Maybe some new people don't actually know about sources? and to have a helpful greyed-out example would encourage them to put something in?
by Ros Haywood G2G Astronaut (2.0m points)
+16 votes
I think the sad reality is that many users aren't going to stop creating profiles and adding information without sources, until sources become a requirement for new things getting added. On multiple occasions I've looked at my daily news feed, seen a whole bunch of new people added to WikiTree without sources, contacted the users responsible and politely told them to add sources (with suggestions on how to find them and do so), and have seen these users continue prolifically in their old, "unsourced" ways. Most of the time, this really is a "won't" rather than a "can't" issue. It's simply too much fun for many to spin names and dates without the arduousness of supporting what they provide. Again, until this site forces people to source what they want to add, we'll keep having this issue.
by anonymous G2G6 Mach 1 (19.3k points)
edited by anonymous

Are you aware that WT has a Recycling Program

David, I adopted the following profile yesterday and at that time it was only a name with a spouse name, no dates or locations of any kind, not even the headings in the biography section and it had been untouched since 2010. With very little effort, and from the comfort of my recliner, I was able to turn it into this profile complete with sources and family. I am not done yet but I thought I would share what can be done easily with a lot of those unsourced profiles if we just try.
Nice job Dale!  The recycle program I noted above was shown for profiles that have no dates, no family attached, no places, no profile manager, nothing except a name at most.  This is curious to me as to how many people actually recycle or should they be purged?  I believe through collaboration many of the public tree uploads are slowly being sourced and bad data corrected.  I have been told more than once by different profile managers that they had once believed that all public trees were sourced.  A public tree is better than nothing; but, many other sites don't require any form of sourcing.  The volumes by John S. Wurts on Magna Charta are now laughing stock of most genealogists. IMHO, separating fact from fiction is what genealogy is about.  As we dig through family tradition and bad sources, at least we have a hint of what someone believed.  This is at least a starting point to prove or dispute. I have a tendency to disbelieve a majority of public trees due to in this day of technology bad information spreads like wild fire.
David, This profile actually did have the spouse attached. As far as public Trees go I can only speak for myself. I have a more complete tree on that is actually more complete and better sourced than the comparable profiles on WikiTree.  The main reason is I was working on there long before I even heard about WikiTree and I am in no rush to redo all of my work here.
Kudos for bringing up this discussion AND some possible solutions!

For 3+ months I've been sourcing for the Ayers one name study.  Names with no country and/or dates are the most challenging.   About the GEDCOMS:  some of them have great material and well researched facts. Don't dump them, but is there an easier way to clean them up?  I'm concerned that if I delete all the text something will be lost.

Hi, Janine!

The GEDCOM-Created Biographies help page will give you some guidance on what to keep and what to eliminate. I've pretty much gotten it down to a science now. It just takes methodically going through the sources section so that you don't throw away anything of value.

Also, I always try to replace Ancestry sources with something from FamilySearch or elsewhere. Sometimes if you Google the title of the source, you can find it somewhere that has it freely accessible.

A "teachable moment"!  Thanks so much.
This would piss me off as I have family in my tree that has documents to show information just no internet links. I had some woman just go in and edit out all of my links and stated my great great great grandmother was unsourced after deleting all links and stating she was right because she couldn't find my grandmother on

So does that mean my tree will start facing deletions because of such vandals??? I also have others that do not have sources but the information has been handed down trough our family. Does that mean my work should be deleted??? I THINK NOT!

I agree that it's stressful to research, and then to be challenged.  I scheduled a phone call from overseas to discuss my finding with a brilliant researcher, and it lasted 20 + minutes.  Another genealogist set up the meeting after building a website regarding my/our findings.  Now I'm working on a paper for a Genea. Society.  You NEVER know the outcome; believe me, I didn't.  

The story I uncovered involves bigamy,desertion, war, and deceit.  Who knew?  But some of my family mysteries became clearer along the way.

BTW:  Keep copies of your research.  I agree, we need to protect the truth we discover.

I just addressed the edits on this profile here:

Nothing was deleted from your profile. The only thing that was changed was the addition of a Research Notes section indicating that the researcher was unable to find any sources on FamilySearch. The Changes can be seen here:

It would be helpful if you would stick to the facts of what happened.
+14 votes
IMO, the situation is not going to get better until WikiTree (us) can clean up their own act.

Remember this thread from not too long ago?:


How can we expect anybody to follow some sort of guidelines, when the existing published ones are confusing and overbearing to begin with?

There needs to be a range of things that people can do to improve their sourcing without getting pedantic about "Chicago Manual of Style". This is not University and people should stop getting so uptight about it.

FamilySearch should be the first place to go for sourcing. It's easy to copy and paste the citation that they give you. There needs to be tutorial on how to use it.

I've always liked the guiding principle that a source should be complete enough that someone else should be able to reference it and determine the data for themselves. If one goes with that principle, then it doesn't matter the exact pedantic style of the format. It's all about if the information is complete.

I've had a run-in recently with a woman who was a Profile Manager who got so uptight about the spacing of the sources in a profile (I like to put in a blank line between them for readability, she takes them out), and also said that there shouldn't be a link to Find A Grave, when there is already a FamilySearch citation to the Find A Grave link. She believes that that constitutes a duplicate source and removed it. I said that I put the Find A Grave link in there for the convenience of other people, because otherwise you have to go to FamilySearch, and then know to click another button to take you to Find A Grave.

And all of this is on an older profile where there should be no "ownership" felt by anyone, but it's just under the 200-year limit . Why are there stupid arguments over the exact nature of what should or should not be in a profile? There are not enough good guidelines for how to use WikiTree, the goals of WikiTree, what is acceptable behavior and not acceptable behavior, and policies that make fixes to many things too slow, which encourages apathy.

Any guidelines should be clear, consistent, and easy for the average user to do, with tutorials on how to do it. Lower the bar a little, in order to gain real improvements. If the bar is too high, you'll get nothing.
by Eric Weddington G2G6 Pilot (529k points)
Rather than a tutorial about Family Search we need a descriptive page on Family Search and then also other sources of sources.  Examples should be given on what should be included with the citation along with either templates ot models to copy and paste.

I can remember strugling to decide how to cite sources from ArkivDigital.  I was pleased to find their was a template to us.  This does require tedious cutting and pasting but it gives a good citation:

<ref>Source: [[#AD]]  {{Space:ArkivDigital|l =en|f =Lemland I. Befolkningsregisterarkivet|b =Aa:11|t = Communion records|d = 1875-1878|i = 230|p=226|AID = v199323.b230.s226|NAD = FI/ALA/000010a}}: accessed 14 July 2016 </ref>


  1. Source: #AD » ArkivDigital, 2005-2016; Lemland I. Befolkningsregisterarkivet Aa:11 Communion records 1875-1878, Image 230 / page 226 (AID: v199323.b230.s226 Info, Open v199323.b230.s226, NAD: FI/ALA/000010a).

    accessed 14 July 2016

ArkiveDigital easily produces the following

Lemland I. Befolkningsregisterarkivet (AX) Aa:11 (1875-1878) Image 230 / page 226 (AID: v199323.b230.s226, NAD: FI/ALA/000010a)

But that in itself is not an appropiate citation.  It does not make it easy to identify it is ArkivDigital or an image from Swedish church records.  The template should be modified to take the above and produce an identifiable and useful citation. 

Eric, The profile used as an example in my answer above does not use "Chicago Manual of Style" citations and very few complain. I also put a blank line between sources when they are not inline references to make it more easy to read. I have looked at how Find-A-Grave wants their memorials cited and do not like their way so if I find it from familysearch I use their citation but would never remove  sources that someone else added . Even a poor source is better than no source in my book.

Well said Eric :)

"clear, consistent, and easy for the average user to do, with tutorials on how to do it. Lower the bar a little, in order to gain real improvements. If the bar is too high, you'll get nothing".  ~ seconded!

As long as the sources are there, they are clear, accurate, linked to or easy to check out, then please give people a break if they are not "Chicago style" or up to your own personal standards. The information being there is all that should matter. Too much pressure puts people off, whether you like it or not, doesn't change the fact.





Eric --

Sorry it's taken me this long to get back to this. I'm having a little trouble pulling your suggestion out of your answer. Would you say that "Revise sourcing guidelines / help pages" would do it?
That makes sense. And see the older thread here:

That one goes into a lot more detail as to why there is so much confusion.
I agree completely. And this is a problem I sometimes have with the wider genealogy community - some people fetishize citation style to the point where it becomes as much or more about how to cite sources as/than it is citing them. For me, an unrepentant "lumper," life is far too short for that. As long as the source citation lists the requisite information for others to trace, and the style is consistent, I'm fine with using a very basic and very simple citation style.
+19 votes

I agree wholeheartedly with Michael who said, Quote: "I think the sad reality is that many users aren't going to stop creating profiles and adding information without sources, until sources become a requirement ".... 

As greeters we used to share the "Honor Code" in our welcome message in which VIII states that "We cite sources. Without sources we can't objectively resolve conflicting information". Then as mentors try to resolve conflicting situations with say surnames or dates of birth, there are no sources to support one or both sides of the debate. 

My problem is that trying to tell someone after they have been here a couple of months that they need to add sources creates an uncomfortable position that is perceived as that we are badgering or over demanding they add sources when they think they can come back later, after which they already added over 200 or more profiles without sources. 

Yes it takes time to go back and add sources and that becomes a major problem for both the profile manager and the researcher needing the information.  Also using a "blanket source or statement", whether it be a book or a study about a family unit, (or their immediate relationship to the person like Julie mentioned, a grandpa) without a link or URL to some type of document, does no use for another person looking for their relative or trying to resolve a problem between two profile managers etc. I think it should be mandatory from day one to add a source or don't add the profile. Just my two cents!!

by Dorothy Barry G2G Astronaut (2.8m points)

"it should be mandatory from day one to add a source or don't add the profile"   There must be a few new members, that are adding sources, but I'm not finding them. I love to award badges and kudos to new members that are adding profiles with sources and date/place, but the profiles I'm finding are barren of any meaningful data.  Just spent another 30+ min and struck out.  Many have taken the time to remove the Unsourced template, but no source listed. A couple visited this evening had :"believed so" for the source of early 1800's profiles :( 

Yes, seems like its harder to find good sources then not, lately especially since like I suggested, they don't think its a mandatory requirement, just a nice to have requirement. I think that needs to be fixed.. just like having the correct birth date, location,  gender ID etc from our database error reports.
Very often it is not possible to find the 'actual' birth date though, more often than not I'm having to add the christening date or the last date of a three month block and tick "before this date" because there is no way I can purchase every birth certificate. Also some people are saying they want us to be obliged to add place of birth on creation of the record, but with wives, often that comes later as all we know is their forename to start with and I always add a source that supports that information, scant as the rest may be. I then revisit and flesh out the sources whilst doing an indepth search but it might be later on, especially if i've just added two wives and seventeen children, or I'm going through a cemetery audit adding profiles of all the people I'm looking for as I go and I therefore have "current" name, death date and place of burial with a single source but no birth date, birth place or, in the case of a woman, LNAB. The info I have may be incomplete but it is accurate with a single source.  I'd be seriously dischuffed if I was prevented from adding these people because i'd reached a brick wall. Like I reached a brick wall with a woman whose first and LNAB had both been recorded differently on the marriage to the birth cert. and all I knew was estimated age, preferred name, married name and that she originated in Liverpool, taken from the census. I had tried name variations but it took several months before I came up with the right combination of search terms to provide the rest. This problem becomes worse the further back in time you go, with names being recorded in a more phonetic fashion. I guess what I'm saying here is don't make a blanket judgement on all scant profiles because some of them may have little but what there is is accurate in some cases and it would be a shame if we were prevented from recording the info we do posess because we don't have the full monty.
EDIT: gender ID also not possible in some cases of infant death.

Hi Gillian, Like most things there are exceptions to the rules.. which your example would be an excellent exception!!! However more times then not, I found that it is a matter of building a tree that has several unsourced profiles with a lack of effort to find the source, then a problem in the effort to get the right source. 

I have seen too many trees being put together within a short amount of time with no real thought about accuracy This causes errors in the future especially when merging of other profiles that are duplicate, someone then has to determine which fact is right, and without good sources unknowingly bad decisions are made causing future problems. 

A comment in the biography about the situation under maybe "research notes" would tell others that you didn't intentionally forget to add a source but need more time to do the research needed to make it right. In my mind,  it should be about "Quality" over "Quantity". Unlike other sites Wikitree's goal is one profile per person. 

If one has a tree somewhere else under their name with no sources, there are other trees that can be found with the same people but with sources, you can eventually find what information you need. But here on WikiTree you are suppose to have just the one profile per person therefore leaving the door open for error without some type of source or as an "exception to the rule" a note indicating further research is needed and why.   As someone else mentioned to me, it's about finding the correct balance between "creating a well-documented respected site" and another "average site" with questionable information. 


Thanks for your reply. I was one of those that started adding people without sources. I told myself I would add them later. Was that a mistake!! I am now having to go back and add my sources. If I can give any advice to New folks, Just add your sources as you go. I sure wish I did.

Joe Garcia
+14 votes

 I was one of those that started adding people without sources. I told myself I would add them later. Was that a mistake!! I am now having to go back and add my sources. If I can give any advice to New folks, Just add your sources as you go. I sure wish I did.

Joe Garcia

by Living Garcia G2G2 (3.0k points)

Thank you Joseph for sharing this with our membership and trying to give advice to our new folks as you stated!!!  

Sourcing has been a sore spot for me and it increases every time I do a spot check on a profile that has a database error or some type conflict going on and "NO SOURCES" are present. I have suggested time and time again to limit the number of profiles a person adds that are unsourced so that these problems don't arise. 

Just like a warning to adding a new profile, that one may already be respresnted on WikiTree I really believe we need to do the same with sourcing. When a person gets ready to submit the profile to be created a big red warning should appear saying a source is needed!!

I wish a survey would be done showing how many profiles were sourced that day by our "Sourcerer" project members  or by our "Saturday Sourcing" Sprint a ton and compare it to how many profiles were added to WikiTree without sources. I truly believe the unsourced profiles will out do the newly sourced profiles in any given day and THATS SAD!!

+6 votes
What about Cemetery projects? I have stones that have nothing but a name. I research, but no information found. This is a 900+ cemetery but I have talked to the person in charge and she inherited the duty of keeping up with the cemetery without any previous information. We shouldn't leave people out, so how about a line asking for information in the bio section?

by Melissa Moore G2G2 (2.5k points)
+5 votes

By the way, what's wrong with these sources?

  • 1930 Census
  • Death record
  • Find-a-Grave
  • Grandpa

Some combinations of these ARE descriptive enough to be of value, as long as they support the facts posted. I agree that one of these alone might be insufficient, but together they constitute at least some respectable evidence. 

For example, if I have a relative I posted named John Smith, and I put down that he was born 1/2/1928 and died 7/6/2003, these sources above would be decent support for those facts alone (especially if the death record lists both dates and places, the findagrave profile has a photo of the grave with both dates, and the census record chronologically, biographically, and geographically confirms the other sources). I would agree that you would need a birth/baptism or marriage record to be a bit more certain about the early vitals, but agreement across these other sources, especially including the census, is a good start.

Have better sources? Provide them! But some of these are staple items in our research. With regard to "grandpa," very rarely will I put down just him as a source for posting something on WikiTree. Often I will post "family knowledge" or "family research" in combination with documented evidence to support certain bits of information. Why? Because I think it is a mistake to dismiss the memories and knowledge of older family members, as unreliable as they can be alone. If, however, they are supported by available documentation, and they can add flesh to this documentation, I'll sometimes go ahead and cite these people. I can think of one exception in my own line where I'll cite only them as a source - certain East Prussian relatives (not many at all) I posted a while back. I know for a fact that a handful of these older people, who died before 1950, exist now only in the memories of those who remembered them. Why? Because the parish and other vital records of these people were lost and likely destroyed in World War II when the Russians invaded Germany from the east with a vengeance. (I checked to see that this is true for each of the villages in question. It is.) Many of these people (even civilians) were killed in the war. Do you think very many of them got nice funerals, obituaries, and burials? In that special case, I relied largely upon older relatives' testimonies to provide a few names and details...because unless something extraordinary happens, that's all we have for them. (And it's a good thing I asked when I did, since many of the people who remembered their parents and grandparents from this place and time have since passed away also.)

by anonymous G2G6 Mach 1 (19.3k points)
edited by anonymous
  • John Smith, born 1/2/1928, died 7/6/2003
  • 1930 Census    2,150
  • Death record   3,453
  • Find-a-Grave  6
  • Grandpa

Michael, I know that you probably have locations for the information but I'm going to play devil's advocate here. I went to FamilySearch and FindAGrave and used your criteria and sources. Those numbers in red ... that how many of each are listed.

That's why, in my opinion at least, those sources are inadequate. If the 1930 Census said "Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, USA" or FindAGrave included a cemetery name, that would be the bare bones that I would want to see.

I'd still have to do the work if I cared enough but at least I'd have a chance of knowing if we might be cousins. And I might care because my maternal great-grandmother is a Smith.

...You do know that my "John Smith" isn't real, right? I was just using a hypothetical example.

That being said, let's take this a bit further:

1. The 1930 Census is likely going to tell you where John Smith was born, when approximately he was born, where he lived shortly after he was born, and who his parents were.
2. Depending on your death record (certificate, obit, ss index, etc), you're going to know exactly when and where John Smith died, and maybe also who his parents were. It will probably say when he was born. It might even say where he was born.
3. A findagrave memorial with a photo will tell you where he was buried, and most likely when he was born and died. It might even list the obit, which will usually tell you a lot more than that.
4. Grandpa, depending on his relationship with John Smith and how well he knew him, will be able to reaffirm certain of the above facts about him through personal acquaintance, etc. He'll also be invaluable in telling you what first to look for when you're searching for records.

All of the above should be more than enough to triangulate the particular John Smith in question and justify creating a profile for him that includes his death and approximate (at least) birth dates. With me, the threshold is not - "do I have all of the sources I could have about this person?" The threshold is rather - "do I have enough evidence to reasonably post certain facts about this person and invite further collaboration and research?" WikiTree isn't (or shouldn't be) just about posting "complete" work. (Whose work is ever "complete" anyway?) It should also be a place where people can both ask for and provide more information to/of which we all have different levels of access/awareness.
*grin* yea, I knew John was hypothetical. And please understand, I wasn't speaking specifically of anything you have ever posted. I was attempting to explain why the sources, just the way Julie posted and you copied, are inadequate for WikiTree. I've not looked at your profiles so don't know if your sources really look like that but I have seen a lot of profiles where they do.

It's not that the sources you, I, and most other genealogist use are not good enough. It's that profiles on WIkiTree need more information than what we might put on our own notes. We know who we're talking about and where they lived. Someone else looking at the profiles we create don't have a clue.
Yeah, I agree that those citations would need more fleshing out, even if I don't necessarily agree that the particular sources themselves would be inadequate in every case. The one exception I can think of is where I have posted sources like "Family Knowledge" (along with other sources of course). This is strictly for privacy purposes, and it's an obvious invitation to anyone who wants to know more to email me so we can have a conversation.
Oh, and as far as grandpa goes, you're right, he's a great source. But whose grandpa? You have two, John had two, they may or may not be the same people. See what I mean?

Personal opinion, it needs to say something like "Joe Smith, maternal grandfather of John Smith (1928-2003)"
Yeah, I agree...though again, not everyone is going to want to post details about living people publicly.
Good point, Michael, and one which I forget to consider. I envy people who are still young enough to be able to ask their grandparents. In that case I would probably leave off the grandfather's name and just use the rest of the sentence.

Truthfully, I add the details as much for myself as for other people. I'm getting close to being the oldest generation in our family. I've got so many bits of data that I wish I knew where I had found. I knew when I made the note and was sure I would remember it *sigh*
+9 votes name is Christine... and I too have UNSOURCED PROFILES...(insert scream here)... LOL.

Being fairly new, here is my experience.

1. Found WikiTree. LOVED the concept. Signed up immediately.

2. Got a little OCD and started loading in GEDCOMs like no tomorrow.

3. Came to the realization that I would have to go through every profile and *fix* what I had already imported because, although my profiles are well-researched, my source documentation is HORRID and GEDCOM importing makes my profiles look like a dog's breakfast.

4. Made a New Year's resolution to go through every profile and make it pretty.

Of course this process took considerable time and effort and consideration of how to mend my ways. One of the tools I use is a template that I have saved in Pages (Apple version of Word). When I open a profile, I copy the template in, fill in the blanks, re-find the sources, and save. It is tedious to be sure, but I am 110% committed to this before adding/adopting more profiles. I have done approx. 40/1500 profiles so far. I refuse to import another GEDCOM.

As an FYI, here is an example of a profile I recently finished:

Kudos to everyone who takes the time to do it right!!
by Christine Daniels G2G6 Pilot (174k points)
Love your post, Christine. I can identify with the first three, and #4 is a good idea for me to imitate.

Do we have templates in our help section that we can copy and use in the way you describe? I do not know.... thinking if not, we need to create them.

I don't know if there are active templates laying around or not... I very specifically research in Ontario, Canada, so I have a standard set of blanks I try to fill in. They go something like this:

'''Profile Note''' (why do I own this profile, am I related, and which Family Tree file are they in on my computer...I have WAYYYY too many)

'''Birth''' (usually Ancestry but I am trying to re-source from Family Search; sometimes use headstone info)

'''Baptism''' (sometimes they are in the Wesleyan Methodist Baptismal Register)

'''Census''' (in Canada we started in 1851, so from then every 10 years to the most recent which is 1921)

'''Marriage''' (trying to change them all from Ancestry to Family Search, document witnesses and link them to their respective profiles if applicable)

'''Voter’s Lists''' (a nice little source on, up to 1980, gives addresses and occupations)

'''Cause of Death''' (found on the death record, totally fascinated with the crazy ones)

'''Death''' (found on Ancestry or Family Search, or date taken from headstone)

'''Burial''' (I have various websites based in Ontario that I use to try to find final resting places, or I document if I can't find them)

Thank you for posting your pattern of "profile sections" Christine.

NOTE: I changed my wording from 'template' to "profile section" because there is a help page about the Profile Sections - maybe your list of suggested sections for the profiles can be added to the help page.

(And because I remembered that 'template' has a special meaning at WikiTree, regarding a design for the mark-up language used in the programming.)
+3 votes
Julie I don't know if I can be nice right now. I have been seeing these bullet listings as sources. Personally I think its was waste of time and energy and creates double work for someone else to clean up.


Dale, I love your type of sourcing!!
by Lynette Jester G2G6 Mach 8 (87.2k points)
+4 votes
I'm very new to wikitree...maybe 3 days now, and I love it!  I am however struggling a bit to get all my sources up to date. My research and paperwork is not as well organized as i thought!

I haven't read all the comments so apologies if I'm repeating anything. I definitely agree with Eric that the official help section be more user friendly and specific.  I had to hunt around to get specific information on how to format a death certificate or findagrave.  Giving examples of all the common sources in one place would have made it easier.

A couple of other suggestions I have:
-Add a certification quiz on sources before allowing people to add (I happened to the 1700 one and it was really helpful. (The pledge is great but its so easy to just check without thinking about what it means, or understanding how to source).

-Do more to encourage people to recruit other researchers at the start so they can divide and conquer on sourcing.

-Require that people do an even smaller Gedcom upload first as a test, so they can have a better idea of how their existing sources will come through before they do a large upload
by M Cole G2G6 Mach 9 (93.4k points)
+4 votes

Make adding sources special!!  Let's say each profile that has at least 5 good sources gets a badge and the badges changes for every 5 sources added to the profile. And who ever has a profile with the most sources at the end of the month gets a special badge. (I know we love our badges) But this way every profile can earn one.

Also I would love to have some training classes and/or videos to learn about kinda what is expected when creating a profile.

  1. How to create a source
  2. How to do inline citations
  3. How to create a biography
  4. How to merge profiles
  5. Advance learning can include:
  • Tables
  • One Name Studies
  • Free Space Pages
  • etc

There could be for one for each aspect. And of course when you finish.. You EARN another BADGE! LOL

by Tia Rutledge G2G5 (5.8k points)

Hi, Tia --

I'm big on "gamifying" things, too, but unfortunately, a badge system like this would take far more administration than we are able to provide. :-/

As for the tutorials ... have you had a chance to work through the links that are being posted to your profile page? They're going to cover a lot of the topics you're talking about. Don't feel like you have to wait for the next link to be posted. Go ahead and work at your own pace.

Also, take a look at the Help Category -- there's a link on the Help menu, too. 

The only thing you won't find there are the more advanced editing techniques like tables, but you can find help with things like that in Wikipedia:

And, if you have trouble finding anything, always ask here in G2G. WikiTree members love to help. :-)

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