Sourcing issues still prevalent

+43 votes

Recently I noticed that the new changes to profiles, where there are options to select concerning the adding of sources, to me, we have added a new dimension to the problem of "Unsourced Profiles. 

When a new member or anyone for that matter adds a new profile to WikiTree and they choose this: 

"Unsourced family tree handed down to (name of profile manager)"

How does that really help?? First, now the tag "Unsourced" that used to be attached when no sources present, is no longer attached. This causes the profile not to stand out as an unsourced profile and that profile is not automatically added to WikiTree's unsourced list. 

To me that leaves others when researching their family ancestors to come across unsourced, undocumented profiles that may be left that way for months or even longer. And without the tag, only when a sharp eyed data doctor or project leader can the profile fully be identified and listed as an unsourced profile. 

Our weekend challenges (especially the ones working on sourcing profiles) miss these profiles completely, as there is no tag present causing that profile not to be listed in the unsourced WikiTree category that they are working on. Same thing when one wants to help (on their own) to source their particular surname, all these new unsourced profiles will not be found because of the way one can put that comment from the start with no automatic designation that stands out... that this profile is unsourced. 

Also our database errors report updates will not pick up that these profiles that are unsourced, if left the way they are currently. 

asked in WikiTree Tech by Dorothy Barry G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
edited by Jillaine Smith
I surf for connections for the US PRESIDENTS Project and truly, the past month, there have been, that I noticed, several hundred new Unsourced, a month or more old, hand entered  profiles, mostly by newer members, many of the profiles duplicates. I made a few MIRs

Here are the options we get when we try to create a new profile without adding a source before we hit the Add ... button:

A source is required but you can select one of the following:
Personal recollection of events witnessed by [[Jones-39993|Lindy Jones]] as remembered 13 Aug 2017.
Unsourced family tree handed down to [[Jones-39993|Lindy Jones]].
Source will be added by [[Jones-39993|Lindy Jones]] by 14 Aug 2017.

Selecting Unsourced family tree obviously should add the unsourced template to the profile as well. We have clearly stated that the profile is unsourced!

That's the problem, currently it doesn't add the template.

With the up coming Fall "Source-A-Thon", it would have been nice if these "Unsourced family tree handed down to" ...... would have had the unsourced tags so that our volunteers joining the challenge could work on these profiles. An unnecessary loss of the use of our own resources to eliminate unsourced profiles. 

9 Answers

+24 votes
Best answer
I echo what some of the others have said. Keep it as an option but have it trigger {{unsourced}} as well so we can find them in the lists. Thanks for bringing this up Dorothy. :-)
answered by Susie MacLeod G2G6 Pilot (164k points)
selected by Dorothy Barry

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and comments. I just felt the need to bring this dilemma up to the WikiTree community and especially to the leaders. 

My main concern has always been to try not to have so many unsourced profiles (in a particular surname) and if they are, to have a remedy to get them sourced. We already have projects and data doctors willing to help.. but too many unsourced are "hidden" as one person suggested, and there are opportunities lost to get the help to fix that. 

One might think we are getting the job done by checking the list of "unsourced profiles" from time to time especially after a major "source a thon" or weekend sourcing challenge. However, in reality, a lot of unsourced profiles are not on the list, and this was just one of the newest reasons why, so I wanted to bring it up to everyone's attention. 

Again thank you!! Adding the "unsourced template" may be a good remedy that could be implemented. 

+10 votes
I noticed that option did not use it and just moved on. Perhaps the option stays but adds the Unsourced tag to the profile also.
answered by Marty Acks G2G6 Mach 7 (75k points)
I too would agree to that, in order to have these unsourced profiles identified and listed on the WikiTree Unsourced profles list (like before this option was given).
+19 votes
I applaud that particular insert, far better than "first hand knowledge" or "remembered by".

But Dorothy's concern is to the point. If it won't trip the "Unsourced" search, it's not good enough. Perhaps including {{Unsourced}} with it would solve the problem.
answered by Tom Bredehoft G2G6 Pilot (188k points)
I kind of disagree and I hope  that I do not upset the apple cart sort of speaking. IMHO I feel that "first hand knowledge" or "remembered by" can be ok to use. I do not have many sources if any leading from my father or my brother to their descendants and that is for a personal reason. My direct family is more important to me than any and all of my fellow members combined. If that is not a good enough reason then it appears that I am not trusted. I also believe that some of the information or sources not shown for either my father or brother is very private. What is there and what is not there is for my immediate family. Another thing is that where it says first hand knowledge was put there by WT and not myself. It is acceptable for WT then I believe that fellow members should show the same respect. Other cases may be different and some are probably exactly what everyone has said in this thread and should be handled.  Please do not group everyone together. There may be a legitimate reason why it is done that way. Thank you for considering this.
Jerry, I respect your view.

I would also say don`t put forward anything that you do not wish others to see, although if they are living it will not appear.

My view if your data if for your immediate family, then share it with them.

Why Wikitree acknowledge "First hand knowledge" is an open invitation for unsourced profiles!!.
Jerry, the issue with use of "first hand knowledge" or "as remembered by" was that at one time the system was automatically adding that to unsourced profiles for people who would have been hundreds of years old.  No living person could have possibly had first hand knowledge.  It may be a legitimate source for immediate family members, or others that you know personally, although IMHO it would not be as good as an actual written record of an event.  If you don't have an actual record, then I think attributing something to first hand knowledge is better than just saying nothing.
Well, really, the issue that was brought up is not really addressing Private, or even Public profiles at all, in the modern era. Those are strictly between you and your close family members.

The issue has to do with ancient, Open profiles, that would otherwise flag an alert that they need to be sourced from primary documents or from secondary trails of research.
Experienced directly is a much better standard than grannie told me. Still problematic though, people misremember important details of their lives all the time. And it only gets worse with age when the young'ns all want to hear their glorious stories.
Thanks everyone for understanding. I know that it can be problematic. I wish that everyone would be as understanding as the people in this thread.  I guess everyone  is different and have different thoughts and ideas. What it all comes down to, no matter what your ideas are on any subject, is respect.
+9 votes
The options focus the profiler's mind but will unlikely reduce the number of unsourced profiles added. Frankly I think it will mean more are hidden below the horizon!
answered by R W G2G6 Pilot (257k points)
Yes Ron, that is a point that I am trying to bring up... new profiles not being added to the WikiTree unsourced lists are being "hidden" as you say, and lost opportunities for data doctors and sourcing challenges to address because they are not listed. Thank you for your comment!!
+9 votes

Why Wikitree acknowledge "First hand knowledge" is an open invitation for unsourced profiles!!. 

answered by R W G2G6 Pilot (257k points)
I was present at my uncle's funeral, therefore I know first hand he is dead. I don't have his death certificate and since I am not a direct descendent I cannot obtain one due to privacy laws - apart from the fact that I feel my money is spent more wisely on other research than on getting death, marriage or birth records for non-immediate family members. So if "first hand knowledge" were not an option in these circumstances should I not record his death?
Such a testament with dates and places is  truly first hand knowledge and totally creditable

Inviting first hand knowledge without any creditability is not.
I think the fact that people keep neglecting to make a distinction between modern, Private profiles, and ancient, Open profiles, reveals that there should be some kind of split in the process.

Perhaps the prompts to add a source could only appear after the person adds a birth date. If the birth date is above the mandatory Open profile cutoff dates (150 yr birth and 100 yr death) then allow the "firsthand knowledge" or "Unsourced family tree."

But if the date entered is going to force it to be an Open profile, then either remove those selection options, or code it to add {{Unsourced}} if those get selected as source.

Better to fix these issues in the programming, whenever possible, than to try to train everybody about what to do when.
+5 votes
There does seem to be a problems identifying some unsourced profiles. I have recently come across several unsourced profiles while adding some of my husbands ancestors. Most of them are for people who lived in the late 1700s. They usually have a source listed that goes something like this:- "First-hand information as remembered by  XXXXXX  Wednesday, February 5, 2014."  One such example is the profile of Northan-1 born in 1667. It does not appear in the unsourced category. I am slowly working through these profiles adding sources where I have them or can find them. It would be far better if these profiles appeared in the unsourced category so that they could be corrected sooner instead of us coming across them by accident. This is a problem, although maybe not quite the same as the one being discussed here.
answered by Joan Whitaker G2G6 Mach 5 (54.1k points)
edited by Joan Whitaker

The problem you're citing is one (of several) predecessors to the one being questioned now.  That's what WikiTree used to automatically add to all profiles that were created with empty bio and source sections.  After a couple of years of constant complaints about it reflecting negatively on WikiTree's credibility, they finally changed it to automatically adding the Unsourced template with a citation indicating the need for a source.

The newest thing, added only a week or two ago, is offering people several options if they add a profile without entering anything in the source box.

I agree that the Unsourced template should be slapped on ALL such profiles at creation time.  Perhaps they should add an instruction to users that it's OK to delete that line when they add a source - in fact, it's what they're supposed to do.  It seems that the question is asked over and over in G2G about why the Unsourced box doesn't automatically go away when a profile no longer has no sources.

When you encounter a profile with that specific citation statement, if you can't find a valid source, please, by all means, add {{Unsourced}} at the top of it - if you know the country then specify it in the template statement, for example:  {{Unsourced|United States}}
Thanks for that Gaile. Being quite new to wikitree I often pick up things that have already been dealt with. The trouble is that there is so much information on the site and it takes time to get familiar with everything. I'm getting there though, even if it is slowly. I hadn't thought of adding {{Unsourced}}, onto a profile, but I will do that in future if I come across something I cannot deal with myself.
If there are any clues to where the person might have been, please include locations when adding the Unsourced template. The code will look like {{Unsourced|Location|Location}}. Locations can be from the profile in question or any linked person. You can leave off the second |Location if only one exists.

This is really helpful for those of us who specialize in a particular region.

[edited because my brain knows how to spell, even if my fingers don't]
+1 vote
(Hand Me Down) information is a source; admittedly not a very good source, but none the less a source. I sincerely hope WikiTree stays away from categorizing the quality of individual sources. The system is over/complicated now without creating another hornet's nest. There are internationally accepted guidelines for classifying sources. Hopefully we will leave it at that.
answered by George Churchill G2G6 Mach 6 (63.5k points)
+5 votes
I agree with you. I often shake my head at the "first-hand knowledge" when the profile is of a person who died 200 years ago. What vitamins ARE you taking? ;-)

I get irked when I mark a profile as unsourced, then the PM removes that. Rather than get into a bickering session, I just let it go.
answered by Natalie Trott G2G6 Pilot (422k points)
+2 votes

the ''first-hand knowledge'' bit used to be an automatic addition.  It is no longer so that I am aware.  And we are very very far from having all the unsourced profiles tagged.  I keep finding them and adding sources.  Living or within one or two generations of living people is different, a lot of records simply are not available publicly, so first hand knowledge is the only data we have often.  But, it needs to be made clearer how the person knows this data.  For instance, I have a number of great aunts and uncles for whom I do not have records available, just family stories or personal memories.  I have put as much of this in those profiles, which are mostly not open profiles in any case.

"Unsourced family tree handed down to (name of profile manager)", I have not seen, is this an automatic gizmo?  I am aware of a few people who have actual family trees done professionally for them who then have an actual source for their tree, just not visible to others.  That will have to be addressed at some point, but I think we have so many older profiles without sources that we shouldn't worry about this too much right now.

While bots to tag unsourced profiles are nice, they are still only bots, and can go way off, so I would not rely on them.  Let's just keep plugging away at the tree.

answered by Danielle Liard G2G6 Pilot (199k points)

Thanks Danielle for your comment. This wouldn't be a bot though, it would be added automatically when the profile manager selects "Unsourced family tree handed down to (name of profile manager)". 

I am trying to bring attention to the fact that offering this option (above) gives the opportunity for the profile to sit as "unsourced' without having the tag that used to be added from the start to remind profile managers to source. That's why they made the template dark gray in nature if I remember right. Also the profile is not added automatically to our WikiTree "Unsourced profiles" list like it used to be. 

oh, wasn't aware of that little trick, haven't created new ones for which that would apply lately.  Shouldn't exist as an option, I agree.

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