Please read this about sourcing.

+9 votes
I do not think we will solve the problem with sourcing unless more people learn how to do it properly. I am tired of this debate already. I would like to see people that know how to source explain to people that do not know how and people that do not know how must stop depending on those that do know how. Do it yourself! Without knowledge we are just like other sites. Why don't we help each other? Everyone says that we all get along together and it is even in the rules that we are a friendly bunch. Some people just might want to learn. Reading about it made no sense whatsoever. All that it did was disappoint me. I wish there were people inside of WT that would sit with those who want to learn and help us. If we took time to teach instead of wanting to force people to do it, we would be much better off. More people would be aware of their mistakes and would be more apt to repair them  by themselves. It would give us a sense of accomplishment of what we do instead of making rules and seeing who of a couple of people can do the most.
in Policy and Style by Jerry Dolman G2G6 Pilot (167k points)
As a mentor, there is a saying...."You can lead a horse to water, but, you cannot make him drink"   I can tell you in my experience, fully 75% of the people who do not source, see it as a choice.  It is not that they do not know how, they chose to not source, all the tutorials in the world are not going to change those people.

Yes, there are people who I have taught to source or at least document their sources, but there are many, many others, who just want to add people to Wikitree.   By "forcing them" to do something, we may drive them off, but, at least they understand that we are committed to sources.
There is another saying that "You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar." I just shot up a flare asking for help. I really doubt if someone that seriously asks for help that they would just like to post the names of their relatives.
Jerry, I have seen people come to G2G and say, "I just wrote a biography" or "I just added sources to a profile" and ask for others to check them out and give advice if needed.  I would love to see more of this in G2G.  If you aren't sure of a profile or a source, post it here and let others help.

As others are saying, we would love to help members learn, but we need them to ask because there are over 450,000 of them and we don't know who wants the help otherwise.
Well said Emma MacBeth. It is important to teach people. Most of the time it is because people are afraid they won't get it right and they feel they should be able to understand instructions given but we all learn in different ways. Some people need to be taught by going through the process and others just want some instructions etc. It is all about learning and most people who come on sites like this are trying to set and find their ancestors. The fact that it is free is amazing. There is not much that is free out there these days.

So well done all of you that help others on this site. It is an amazing site. Keep it up. This site has helped me find my father's mothers first and last names, birth and married. Thank you sooooooooooo much.

6 Answers

+11 votes
Best answer

Hi again, Jerry.,

I absolutely agree that teaching someone to the source is much better than doing it for them. Always.

Unfortunately, no matter how many serious researchers and dedicated WikiTreers there are, there will always be those few who aren't really interested in proving their ancestry so much as just claiming it. In those cases, and most of these are what I have come to think of as "drive-by" WikiTreers, I would rather add sources and clean up profiles, even remove unproven ancestors and descendants if necessary, than just leaving the mess for others to deal with.

But it is always better to teach than to do it for someone.

by Deb Durham G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
selected by Jerry Dolman

I have tried videos.... but in my case telling people how to do genealogy in Swedish church books in Swedish then it fast gets crazy difficult... plus you need to invest in some subscriptions....

Magnus I cannot understand it with my ancestors coming from England. I could imagine how fast it gets crazy with a non English speaking country.
Deb you are so right but I am referring to those of us that want to learn. video and reading web pages are just a great big nap time for me. They are boring and you cannot stop at any point and ask a question and they get back to you. I have done it with others in this nut farm I mean tree site with much success.
+8 votes

You have excellent video's see below...

  1. Video from Ancestry Crista Cowan about GPS

Some people do excellent web hangouts you can join in a study group see DearMyrtle her blog

I normally do videos when helping people with Swedish Genealogy

by C S G2G6 Pilot (274k points)
edited by C S
+12 votes
Jerry, The group that you suggest is called the Mentors and information about them can be found here  

They have been around and active for quite some time but members need to ask for help and it will be given.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
Thanks for the recognition Dale! We have a great team of Mentors who work exceptionally hard on this and other problems.
Dale, I did not mean the mentors. I feel the mentors have plenty enough to do without answering my 100 questions. It is a good idea if they are willing. As for me I would need someone to spend a lot of time with me.
Jerry, I am not one of the mentors but I believe that they would welcome helping anyone become a better WikiTreeer. That being said take a look at  It is not the best but if you check out the changes log you can see what I did with that profile and feel free to ask about anything you do not understand, either on G2G or ask me personally and I will try to help.
I will also say and I believe most would agree that adding any source is better than no sources so worry less about the formatting at first but put down where you got the information so that you can "fix" the profile later.
Dale that is an excellent idea. I don't worry about them but the powers that be keep insisting that everyone has to do be done and they are changing rules and they have races and what not. I would prefer to do my own work and have a sense of accomplishment then someone coming in and knocking off 10 of my mistakes. Some one else doing  it does not prove anything except that it looks nice and pretty.
Jerry, I add sources to unsourced profiles almost every day. I do not participate in the "challenges" because I strive to do better work. Do not worry about those challenges if you do not wish to participate, others do and they do improve the big tree, but even one source on every profile is a worthy goal. I have has some tell me that my profiles are no good because on some I do not have inline references but my thought is if I get the sources on the profile when I find them I can always come back and make them look "pretty" later, or alt least someone can because the sources are there.
Jerry, I finally had time to look at one of the profiles you recently created, Lash-312, and while the citation does not exactly fit the Style Guide it has all of the necessary information and any changes would be minor. I have seen far worse source citations and unless I could prove that the source did not belong to that person I would never change it with an active manager. Feel free to email me with any questions, use the send private message link to start off, but I will warn you that I am scheduled for surgery on Monday morning and there may be a delay before I can get back to you.
+5 votes
Magnus, Dale, this is great stuff. Thank you.

Deb, great insight. Thank you.
by John Susnir G2G6 Pilot (109k points)
+5 votes
Jerry there are many many online tutorials to help explain sourcing, including videos. There are also great books on the subject. My favorites are Evidence Explained and Mastering Genealogical Proof.

I think the easiest way to explain sourcing is to think of yourself as a detective. You need to prove a genealogical relationship. To do this you need evidence. Evidence is something like a birth certificate, a will, a headstone, a marriage certificate, it can even be the spoken word. Someone's tree  on ancestry dot com is not evidence. But it might have evidence attached to it. To prove your case you ideally need multiple pieces of evidence, not just one. They must all add up to solve your genealogical case.

Once you have your evidence you write up a source citation explaining where source/evidence originated.  I think if you think of a source as evidence it will help you understand what you are trying to do.
by Jeanie Roberts G2G6 Pilot (126k points)
Jeanie, thank you but I could read and watch videos until the cows come home and not comprehend very much. Videos are snooze time.I would like for those of us that don't understand to get a little one on one help.
Hey, Jerry! :-)

Mentors are there for you if you want one-on-one help. Just go to the Contact a Mentor page and pick someone:

They're a terrific group!
+5 votes
I'm not sure I understand what the problem is.  Wikitree provides resources and mentors and G2G to help.  Every profile has a link to the Citation Machine, which is a free resource which can help you make a citation for pretty much any source.  Basically, if you have a fact, you need a source for that fact.  If your only source is Family records, then you note that under sources.  I am confident that I will never be able to prove that my great-great-great-grandfather's middle name was Barnabus, so I noted on his profile that the only source for that information is family records.
by J. Crook G2G6 Pilot (202k points)
To be honest J. if you did not understand then you should not have replied. Sorry buddy but I explained my situation the best that I can do. I do not want or need a video or read a page. I need to talk to someone perhaps in e-mail where I can ask questions when I need to ask them. Sorry buddy bit it has worked for me in the past with other pars of this site. Teaching and learning is much better than snoozing through a video or a program any day.
Then I suggest that you go to your local community college or four-year college library and ask a librarian, or use the ask a librarian feature that's available at many public libraries.  A librarian will guide you in how to do citation, and most will give you all the time you need.

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