Why so many superscript notes for "Name" on a Profile?

+5 votes
373 views

For example: Name: Charles Bliss /Elmer/[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

Would not 2 notes be just as well as 10 if they were birth record and first census listing?

The example was from a GEDCOM dump.

WikiTree profile: Charles Elmer
in Policy and Style by W E G2G6 Mach 1 (10.4k points)

5 Answers

+5 votes

This peeves me, too. I've seen as many as 26 footnotes on one "Name."

These are not sources that elucidate something important about the person's name. Rather, as near as I can determine, when an Ancestry.com user saves an item of information to their family tree, that item is attached as a "source" on every element of the person that is mentioned in the source. Thus, if the Edmund West family data collection on Ancestry has an entry that says something like "Name: John Jones,  Birth, Place: United States,  Date: 1710," the record will be attached as a source to "Name" and "Birth" data fields in the Ancestry profile.  That same record probably is also duplicated in the Edmund West Births data collection, so if the ancestry user also clicks on the Births entry, that entry will also be separately attached to the Name and Birth data fields in Ancestry. This will be repeated for every additional item that is saved to the person's record in Ancestry. When the profile gets imported to WikiTree as part of a Gedcom, every one of those attachments gets treated as a separate footnoted source citation (each with a long blurb about the Ancestry database). Appallingly, there might not be any meaningful information in any of the underlying "records" in Ancestry.

I want to be brutal about stripping away these citations, but I am chronically concerned about the commandment to be polite to the people who "contributed" these profiles, so I often tiptoe around them -- or don''t strip them away until I've expended excessive amounts of time on Ancestry verifying that these "sources" contain nothing of value (or nothing that isn't also sourced to far better sources).

by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
Hi Ellen,

I usually am brutal about stripping away those citations..... But only if I've gone through and done the right research and can replace those Ancestry citations with something that is more freely accessible like records from FamilySearch. Sometimes I have to do it piecemeal over time.

Gedcom cleanup skills is sorely needed around here.
William's example of Charles Elmer is not as egregious as the general cases that I described. The 10 sources cited in those 10 footnotes next to "Name" are identifiable for what they are (census records, for example) and they are good kinds of sources to cite (unlike Edmund West). But all those 10 footnotes indicate is "This name appears in these 10 records."
Eric and Ellen, familysearch.org attaches a source to every fact in that source as well. You just do not see as much evidence of that because you can not download a GEDCOM from there to upload here.  With the changes taking place linking more and more of our profiles to data from there you may see more evidence of the same type of sourcing from there in the future.
+4 votes
In the original Ancestry tree, each attached source record is associated with various data fields to which they relate, such as the name and various data fields. In the resulting gedcom export, reference to each data field become footnotes.

Free free to clean them up, combining the duplicate references and such, as you see fit.

edit: I think I said basically the same thing Ellen already said.
by Dennis Wheeler G2G6 Pilot (535k points)
+2 votes
Others disagree with me but if you have 10 sources that list the name then they should be included. You can have a birth record, marriage record several census records as well as death certificates and burial records that all have the name on them so listing them as sources for the name is not overkill but rather adding additional proof for your data. More proof is never a bad thing, too little proof is bad.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
Dale: Trouble is, those ten footnotes don't prove anything. They merely indicate that 10 records included the name "Charles Elmer" (or possibly a variant thereof, like Charles B. Elmer or Chas. Elmer). Those records could be for the subject of the profile, or possibly a grandson of the same name. They don't prove the name of the profile's subject.

The very same sources appear later in the same profile in association with facts about the person -- for example, a census record that indicates that in 1920 Charles B Elmer, age 47, was recorded in Port Chester, Westchester, New York, with his wife and children. That's worthwhile evidence (although I wouldn't go so far as to call it "proof").

Thank you all for weighing in. It is a bit of a judgement call. I chose in my dad's case to limit to two: 1) SAR application and 2) Birth records. The SAR because he himself applied and for Birth it attests to his parents. I could add maybe one more: MY NAME (I am Junior). I will let all the others go.

Bless you.  Bill (Elmer-1185) for now deceased Dad (Elmer-1191)

Ellen, I think you and Dale are both correct. I agree that all the sources should still be included, but they don't all need to be footnoted to the "name" data field.
0 votes

This is just the style that WikiTree uses.

Possibly in the next rendition, all of the tags could be condensed into a single tag with a total of such tags. FamilySearch does that and it may give a better appearance to the Biography.

I think it is important to be accurate in the number, yet, create a biography that is visually appealing.

by Robert Elmore G2G5 (5.0k points)
This isn't WikiTree's chosen style so much as it is WikiTree's best effort to format the content that comes in as part of Gedcoms produced elsewhere. We humans should not try to pretend that we are computers -- we should try to reformat the content so it is readable and informative for people.
+2 votes

I use this style on purpose so I figured I'd explain my reasoning. WikiTree is where my research is housed. While I'm still in the data gathering stages, I add the names as found, chronologically, with  inline named references to the sources which use the name. I like it for several reasons:

  1. It puts all the sources at the beginning with named references. The edit page stays clean once you get below the name section as only the named references are used.
  2. I've found it to be very useful from a timeline point of view to track a woman's life. It can provide great clues to look for marriage and/or divorce records.
  3. Much of my research is from the US Deep South where people seem to switch between using given name, middle name, nickname, and initials at the drop of the hat. Knowing when and where someone was using a specific name has helped me confirm that the records are for the same person.

It will all get changed eventually when the bios are written but for now it's an important piece of my research process. For those of you who are bothered by this style, please accept my apologies in advance for any of mine.

by Debi Hoag G2G6 Pilot (291k points)
Thanks for clarifying the good reasons why this approach might be used, Debi!

In my particular case the imported GEDCOM left a lot of messy odds and ends. And there was no need for 10 superscripts. I and an esteemed colleague peeled them down to three of the most "to the point" ones. Now its done and is clean, streamlined and beautiful!! I am grateful for every bit of y'alls input too!! Come see: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Elmer-1191 :-)

looks nice!

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