Is this a waste of time

+19 votes
I have been told by a leader that adding sources like this makes it impossible for others to understand them. If this is the case then I will spend my time on another site and just do the minimum needed on WikiTree from here on out.

There is no need for me to waste my time if it is not helping.
WikiTree profile: George Beaver
in Policy and Style by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
Dale, looks perfect to me too. I add the census to the bio with ref tags to add it to the source  as in this one...
Hi Dale, please don't stop contributing, I appreciate what you have done and hope you continue. Note my answer below as well.
You are also saving anyone else a lot of research time by listing the sources with easy point and click use.

The sources are also detailed enough to be self explanatory of what information they relate to.

I appreciate your work.

C'est Bon

P.S. If you keep working on your Cook line we are sure to bump into each other. :-)
Ignore the person saying that. It's akin to bullying in my humble opinion, making folk feel like they aren't up to grade. It's a shame there is a bit of that going around in wikitree these days.

You are doing great work :)
Dale , personally I wish I could get that far. I add sources and notes for myself as I try to learn , but most times some one formats them for me. Which I appreciate. But it is not always in the same style. Most of the time it is very difficult for me to understand how it's been done. I stop adding sources on those profiles.  So I'm not sourcing any of the profiles that recently became attached to one of my ancestors.  I could very easily say " so and so says such and such" but I have come to realise this site is always going to be more than I can handle.
That's an exceptionally well-sourced profile! It looks great. That's exactly how I do sources.

Did that person cite a source for " impossible for others to understand them"? They should speak for themselves, as I and the others previously replied (see this thread) understand just fine. One part of getting along is not not make comments like that person did, but another is to have the wisdom to let it slide off you. It takes two to tango!

The next improvement, since you seem to be fishing for criticism ;) would be to connect each atom of information to each source that backs it up, e.g. "the person died on this date[1][2]", where [1] and [2] would be references to the sources that back that statement up. Bear in mind that this is not meant so much to make others happy as it is to maintain your own sanity should you ever revisit the issue.

All that said, you're doing a better job than me.

I quite like what you have done. Of course I would say that, you and I cite very much the same.

20 Answers

+25 votes
In my opinion it is NOT a waste of time.

Perfectly understandable. I can go to those sources and independently verify the information.

Please don't go.
by Eric Weddington G2G6 Pilot (243k points)
I did forget to add one thing, the person in this profile was a Mason.
I found out his son was a Freemason (via Find A Grave and a picture of the grave marker), and I added that to his profile (as you probably already know).
I just created the profile for his son today and have not done anything else with it. It was exactly how the software created it.
+20 votes
Sources like that are perfectly fine, I do mine the same way and all anyone needs to do is click the green URL bit of the source and they open up. Whoever told you otherwise is talking out of the wrong end!
by Gillian Causier G2G6 Pilot (245k points)

I also source most of the profiles I work on the same way. I've never had a complaint...

+17 votes
I like it also Dale. Very easy to find and nice and neat. I can't believe someone told you that. Besides the way I look at it, any source is better then none. Keep up the good work.
by John Noel G2G6 Pilot (711k points)
+15 votes
I've gotten used to the inline style which makes it easier to find which fact goes with which source, but OTOH I haven't started adding the links yet, which makes it easier to look at the actual source. It's obvious to me, however, that either and other styles are perfectly acceptable.
by Dave Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (408k points)
+12 votes
Dale, like the other responders I don't see what the problem would be with the sources, and I am mystified by the "impossible to understand" comment.  Could you perhaps expand a bit on exactly what the issue is and what the leader says should be done differently?
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (433k points)
I think it's really important that asking questions that relate to how things should be done here to find out the overall feelings of the members is something none of us should ever stop doing. Goodness ... it's important we all feel like we can! It's an important issue you have bought up Dale, we need to discuss it.

Anyway ... hopefully there will be a post in g2g soon on behalf of "the team" clarifying what is good enough, once and for all :)

Eowyn, thanks for the reminder that we should be specific when we have a concern. It's similar to sourcing the profiles we work on: 

When we have a concern we should provide sufficient evidence (and use the right channels) so that the problem can be clearly understood and acted upon/resolved. 

It would have been more helpful if Dale had provided the specific words shared with him by the member. (If using g2g, it would not be appropriate to include the identification of the specific member; save that for the Problems with Members form.)

Trudy, the reason it's a member issue, not just a sourcing issue, is that Dale is reporting that a Leader told him he shouldn't source the way he's sourcing, when from the responses here, such sourcing is acceptable to most. (I concur, I'd rather see sources like Dale's provided than no sources at all; if someone wants to convert them to inline citations, by all means, go ahead.)

Dale, I continue to be amazed at differences in interpretation-- all the more reason for all of us to be more specific. You read Eowyn's response above and responded as you did; I read Eowyn's response and had a completely different response. 

You also took one Leader's response to you (about the sourcing style) and extrapolated that to the entire Leader body. I read Eowyn's response that such generalizations are not helpful in identifying and resolving the problem.

And no where in her response do I see sufficient evidence to conclude that: "It is apparent that asking questions that relate to how things should be done here, to find out the overall feelings of the members [which, by the way, is not what you did in your original post], is something you do not approve of" 

In fact, I see her suggesting better ways to resolve such issues.



Jillian, I said a leader, I did not take "one Leader's response to you (about the sourcing style) and extrapolated that to the entire Leader body."

You're right; you did not say that explicitly.  I apologize. 

You did, however, use g2g to deal with a question which you have just now clarified is about one person, not about a wikitree-wide policy, which is what is usually discussed here-- that's how I extrapolated beyond your words. 

As Eowyn is pointing out, "Problems with Members" is a better forum for dealing with individuals. She never said that g2g was not the place to discuss how things should be done here and for getting community input.

Jillian please excuse me for being so dense.  I have a tendency to see many aspects of an issue.    If there was an established policy , instead of vague guidelines for sourcing there would not have been interaction between Dale and a leader to begin with. Thus from my very limited intelligence level it appears as a sourcing problem.  That's ok ,I'm getting used to being the dumb kid in the class here on wikitree.  Dale is correct about the lack of interest wikitree shows to members who are working hard to grow wikitree. Each time  we wish to discuss issues we are treated like children. Example Jilliane's response to my post.  Eowyn's response to Dale was a little snippy and disrespectful of Dales want to remedy a situation that is important to alot of us and it just gets blown  off by wikitree.  It is a big time communication problem. Same bunch of people not understanding what the same bunch of people are saying. Problems with members is just a way to sweep wikitree issues under the rug and out of the sight of general membership. I just got a huge break though on two of my lines. I'm walking away from it on wikitree because of the sourcing issue. Most of the profiles that ended attached to a profile I manage rare unsourced.  I could go down line and add a source for about 30 profiles but some one would jump all over me about how I did it. And it still would not be an issue with another member . It would be an issue with wikitree policy. But like I said I have a very limited intelligence level. I am horrible genealogist , I propose inappropriate merges , I inappropriately reject merges , I don't clean up properly after a merge. I clean up to much after a merge. Etc. No one of the previously stated issues are about issues with other members. Although who knows how each time I completely an action someone is going to have a cow. Wikitree needs to step up and address the policy issues that happen when this great mass of people work on one giant project. This site is so very inaccurate dispute the amount of work people are putting into it. Its sad.  The break through I found ties two US Presidents together. Alot of cousins already on wikitree. Lack of dates  lack of sources. But we're out there looking for more cousins , more connections with out even having our own house together. Yeap. Sourcing issue.

Eowyn ... how about that g2g post outlining wikitree's policy once and for all. You thought it wouldn't be useful, but it would be useful, to many.

Is it still true that ...

"Fundamentally, a good source citation enables others to:

  1. judge the accuracy of the information found on the profile, and
  2. independently verify the information by finding the source themselves."


Or has wikitree's policy changed there? Are we now meant to get hung up on how it's done, or not as was stated in sources help until recently, quote "don't get hung up on this. The important thing is citing the source, not how it's done." 


If this standard has changed members need and deserve to be informed. It would give them an understanding as to why the odd leader, or member, is being critical of their work. With that information they can then make the choice to stay or leave wikitree. 


It is not very nice after all to be told, whether that be by private message, in g2g, or whatever, that you are not doing good enough when you are doing your utmost to do good work and adding sources which are clear, understandable, and verifiable. Bullying may seem like a strong word to some, but that is nothing short of exactly what it is. Anything that makes another feel dumb, inadequate, not good enough ... is bullying.


A blanket statement in g2g as to what wikitree expects with regards to sourcing is sorely needed. It would be awesome not to have to debate this topic in g2g again. Please do clarify wikitree's policy on sourcing.

"A blanket statement in g2g as to what wikitree expects with regards to sourcing is sorely needed. It would be awesome not to have to debate this topic in g2g again. Please do clarify wikitree's policy on sourcing."

Well-said, Nicky.  When a leader tells a member something that conflicts with the help pages on the subject, the guidelines need to be publicly clarified.  Especially for members who don't feel comfortable with inline sourcing, or with writing the narrative bios that require it -- they need to know what to do.

Hi Nan :)

Yes I think it would be really helpful. I hope we get word soon from the team & Eowyn regarding this. It is getting to be a tad of a downer that this debate is ongoing and whats expected by some is making others feel incompetent and like walking away. So the sooner wikitree enlighten all as to what is OK and not OK re sourcing the better. I do understand not getting an answer when I ask for something like a printer friendly version for profiles (well, kind of), but considering sourcing is the root of everything here, the all important genealogical thing, this is a question that should not be ignored.  


Nicky, Nan, Eowyn, all:  I'd like to suggest starting a new thread on this subject.  There are probably many members who are not being notified of new traffic and are not seeing all these comments buried very deep under an answer to a question whose title doesn't really reflect the subject of current discussion.  I agree that it's an important topic, and there are probably many others who would want to weigh in if they were aware of the ongoing dialogue.
+21 votes

Hi Dale, I have been adding sources just as you did on your example for as long as I have been here. Then recently went back and added some in-line sources as well but most times it is a time consuming task and has to be just right to appear properly. 

I personally liked the bullet sources all in one place at the end of the biography best because you can do editing much easier and when you begin a profile they ask for a source as they should and it immediately goes to the "source" destination. 

We have to remember, people are always updating the biography narrative as facts are revealed to them. For beginners the "in-line method" takes more time and if you don't get the <ref> info added </ref> just right or you go back to edit something and mess up the above, the whole profile is messed up.

I was always under the impression both methods are acceptable, and found that later especially in the Pre-1500 profiles more experienced genealogists come by and add the in-line source method. Most people are not used to our system never mind in-line sources. As other g2g questions and responses have shown, its less then half right now that add sources making "mentors" and "profile improvement" project members have their work cut out. Why do away with something that works. 

Please don't stop what you are doing, you have added a valuable assist in what you have done, and I would hate to loose you or others like you because of one person's opinion. I had no one ever say they didn't understand adding sources the old way but rather the new in-line makes them avoid adding sources altogether. Some have stated they just do this for fun and for their immediate families, not as a professional genealogist or historian. Just my two cents as a mentor.

by Dorothy Barry G2G Astronaut (2.6m points)
+20 votes
I don't see any problem.  They're not at all "impossible to understand."  And for goodness' sake, with thousands of profiles here that are completely unsourced, I, for one, am very happy to see a profile with multiple, GOOD, sources.
by Nan Starjak G2G6 Pilot (271k points)
I agree. The sources all look fine to me. I clicked on a few of the links, and they took me to the correct page with all the information.

Carry on, that is a well sourced profile.
+10 votes

Dale, your work on George Beaver 's Profile looks better than my handy work! , Mine have lots of holes in them... here is the above Profiles Daughter... .

maybe one day my work will slow down so that I may get them all in tip-top shape. I do have Sources at ancestry for all the empty Sources I have posted on profiles; Am just trying to still get here... The exponential growth here is tremendous! :-)

 Yesterday a cousin from ancestry w/ DNA match contacted me... woops that threw me off track, Then this Morning another w/ the same situation; I am in the middle of working on a long line of Edmonston / Bailey / Goode. 

 Ah... let it roll off of you; like water on a ducks back, I can see your Sources & links work just fine. JPVIV


by Anonymous Vickery G2G6 Pilot (240k points)
John, The Cook line is that of my daughters husband so I will continue with it. The question in my mind is still if my work will continue here or somewhere else.

The Cook family has a lot of ancestors that had cousins marrying cousins and a lot of duplicate profiles already on WikiTree. That with the added problem of cousins using the same names for their children even when the birth dates and locations were very close makes this line more of a briar patch than a tree.
+11 votes
Not a Waste of Time !

for perspective

check out the "Best Answer" LOL ..

to a similar G2G question ..


I think it supports the options available and confirms the method you are using.

C'est Bon Magnifique

by Gerald Baraboo G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
Jerry, at the time I am responding to your answer there is no "Best Answer" chosen for the link you shared.
There was earlier, I looked when I first saw Jerry's response.
is now .. and was ..
I guess someone does not like the answer and keeps removing the selection because there is not one selected now. I have no way of knowing who is doing the removal of best answer on that thread but it must be happening.
I enjoy the alchemy, epiphany, synergy, plethora, symphony, respiration and creative continuum of ideas, liberties and objects available from a expressive volunteer group of intelligent, experienced, bright and freedom loving dedicated individuals.

I still think the answer at the time and in specific regard to its question was the best answer of the group of answers and was deemed so in its original time and space.

The best answer though may not be the best method agreed on from a set of options available given the practical and standardized well meaning, dedicated, professional mindsets pondering what is "best." .. Acceptance formulated by case by case analysis, census, majority, six sigma and or individual punctuate.  

C'est Bon Magnifique


P.S. I Like combinations of in line and dot point sourcing depending on where I am in the progress and process of a profile.
+10 votes

I'm sure there are lots of opinions as to what looks or works best, but yours seems ok to me.

Myself, I'm not yet consistent between styles, and often switch between them, and sometimes I use both together (probably unnecessary), like these and

The shorter text footnotes are easier for me to read when editing the bio, and then put the more detailed text (with url links if available) in the bulleted section (when I can remember how to do it -- without opening yet another browser tab).

Here's some more where I only used the longer text footnotes (editing the bio's here were difficult and confusing; I may go back and switch to the other method): and

I'm still open to suggestions for improvements, as I have a lot more do to.

Adding the links and special refs can be quite tedious, and what should be a single edit or two, often takes me nearly a dozen tries to get it just right. And I have so many browser tabs open, constantly switching between them that my browser usually crashes at least every couple of days.

by Dennis Wheeler G2G6 Pilot (537k points)
+11 votes
Keep up the good work Dale....if someone wants to add a bio & put the sources in-line, let them.
by Doug Lockwood G2G Astronaut (2.4m points)
Doug, I normally use inline references, but when I am researching a person and just starting to work on a profile I use the method in the example. It is just easier to get all of the needed data in the biography section and move it into the proper location later and for me at least makes errors less likely to happen. I still have a lot of profiles with the sources in this format because I sometimes run out of time and do not finish one profile before starting the next.
Ditto ""

Triple Ditto
+12 votes

My personal opinion is that Including inline citations, where each individual fact is supported by a source(s) (and any required analysis/explanation) should be encouraged as a long-term goal for every Wikitree profile... and I put extra emphasis on 'long-term goal'.

I feel the above opinion is in-line (pun intended) with the guidelines on the Sources help page which read: "As you become more experienced and start to collaborate with other WikiTreers you will need to learn how to create references", (references meaning in-line citations using <ref> tags) - it is something to work towards over time and not an expectation from the outset.

Our agreed-upon guidelines represent the end-state we collaboratively want to achieve for each profile. They exist to ensure "unity of effort" - that we are pushing together in one direction instead of against one another - they are not however a prescription of what each individual contribution must look like.

by Rob Ton G2G6 Pilot (275k points)
Hi Rob,

My concern is that if the official guidelines on WikiTree is not extremely clear on this, then it leaves it open to this kind of heavy-handed interpretation.

I really wish that the WikiTree guidelines were cleaned up to emphasize guiding principles and what is acceptable.
+11 votes
What happened to "work in progress"?

You're at risk that somebody else will "improve" your profiles, and the rules will be on their side.

But you set your own priorities.  You can leave things "unfinished" if you've got better things to do.

And we're in trouble when Leaders think it's about hassling the most active contributors.  There aren't that many.
by Anonymous Horace G2G6 Pilot (568k points)
+8 votes

I came to this late and have just read the whole thread.

1) The most important thing is that there are sources.

2) I prefer in-line as being more informative and I believe that that is what WT should be aiming for.

3) But I see no problem with what Dale is doing.

4) In the long run, if and when these profiles acquire more detail, the provider can easily add an in-line reference.

by anonymous G2G6 Pilot (257k points)
+8 votes
A lot of members should take note of this source presentation format and use it as an "aide memoir" in there own profile creations! It is excellent.
by R W G2G6 Pilot (260k points)
+3 votes
Is this something the Profile Improvement Team could work on, ie providing re-worded guidelines that people can follow?

I just clicked on the Sources Style Guide ( and the points raised by Dale are not addressed there.  A few people have commented that some improved guidance would be helpful and I tend to agree.   I say this as a person who now uses inline references frequently but I was honestly a bit terrified of them for the first year I was on Wikitree.

I am happy to participate in any working groups on this if one gets set up.
by Leigh Murrin G2G6 Mach 5 (56.5k points)
I'm probably in a tiny minority here, but actually Wiki Mark-up language (including things like the inline references was the thing which made me interested in joining Wikitree.  I'd done some Wikis in the past and liked the process, so that though I'd forgotten most of it, I was ready and anxious to get back up to speed and apply it to genealogy in a major way.
No profile improvement is necessary Leigh!
+7 votes
Dale, what you do is exactly what I do. I asked a related question yesterday, and in the course of reading the answers I came to a conclusion: keep on as you are.

As I came to realize yesterday, if people are going police style, or vaunt the merits of WikiTree's clunky inline citation system, and at the same time confidently use secondary sources like Wikipedia and any assortment of unsourced tree sites while talking about "good research," then maybe they're the ones with the problem and not us.
by anonymous G2G6 Mach 1 (17.2k points)
edited by anonymous
+5 votes
The WikiTree is a collaborative endeavor. If we all crafted sophisticated profiles that fully comply with the Style Guide, then collaboration will wither and die.
by George Blanchard G2G6 Mach 9 (91.2k points)
+6 votes
I have decided that I am going to keep working on my family's lines and even find and add sources to the profiles that already exist but I will not be adding any new profiles on WikiTree for any of the lines I work on.

This is not about any one thing other than I am going to work in the best way, for me at least, to reach my goals for my own personal lines.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
+8 votes
by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.8m points)
shucks :) I was just about to post this link also... :-)

 Okies back to working on WAC 's :) JPVIV
Thank you for the clarification.

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