Are Arborists adding the unsourced category? [closed]

+52 votes

Arborist are you adding the category unsourced profiles to profiles that don't have any sources or information? Recently I started adding the category. We run into them everyday.

Should we add the category since we are  are most likely to stumble upon them.

Any thoughts?

closed with the note: Closed as per Michelle Hartley's request. Policy has changed and information given is no longer applicable.
in Policy and Style by Michelle Hartley G2G6 Pilot (154k points)
closed by Alison Andrus
Hi Mary,

I don't think many here actually object to Ancestry altogether.  It's really "Ancestry Member Trees," "U.S. and International Marriage Records," "Family Data Collection," and many of their other databases, that are user-submitted, unsupported, unverified, and often just plain wrong.  FamilySearch has similarly dubious sources; "Pedigree Resource File," "International Genealogical Index," etc.

The other problem with Ancestry is that even if you cite a good source there, (census records, images of wills, ship's manifests, etc.) the links are inaccessible to anyone who doesn't pay Ancestry for access.  Whenever I see these, I will replace the link with a free link to FamilySearch or another free source for the same document if I can find one.
I think it is a great idea. I have been checking them every time I log in. I think it is a useful category. There are TONS of profiles out there that I can't help with at all, but now and again there are 1 or 2 that I can add legitimate sources to. If everyone just checked the "unsourced profiles" for an area they are familiar with, only once a week or whatever, many many profiles could be improved a little at a time. Isn't that the whole point?
Jilliane - You value the same things at as I do. Searching those records is a lightning-fast resource that my genealogically-inclined great grandfather would have marveled at. I've done more work in a decade than he and his two sons, working cooperatively, accomplished in half a century. It really is remarkable.

I do use other members' trees sometimes, though. People sometimes find applicable records which the search function misses; this has proven helpful again and again. Unsourced trees, or ones where the only source is another unsourced ancestry tree, are only good for provisional tips. I'll search on a parent or a spouse, especially if it's something I'm stuck on, to see if anything useful comes up. Most of the time it's a frustrating waste of time, but every so often, I'll hit pay dirt.

Mostly it's access to the records, but occasionally the other trees help, too.

It ain't cheap keeping something that big up and running, so I don't mind paying something for access.
Robin Craig, I am not sure I follow your response. I am not Mormom but I signed up for Family Search and have access to the records for free.
Carolyn - Robin is referring to not Non-Mormons pay for, Mormons can use it for free.
I really hope sites the like of ancestory and their ilk go the way of the dodo bird. I'm curious if community projects like wikitree have the power to crowd fund some of these archiving and transcription efforts. I have no sense of the order of magnitude of things, but I'd be much happier shelling out money on genealogy projects if I knew the work went to enrich everyone, not just a single company.

I got involved in geni because my brother had started a tree there. I was a pretty sucky moment when I finally understood how the site operated.
I worked for for a couple of years doing data entry validation, and I honestly think they have a great model.   It is there little waving leaf that is the issue....people attach records that have nothing to do with the person other than the same name, etc. is free and uses a lot of the transcriptions done by other sites.   Clearly, the difference with Wikitree, which is now being understood by other sites, is the focus on a Single Family Tree.   That inherently adds value, not only to the descendant, but, it provides the ability to take a lot of input and meld it together into something that is closer to the truth!   Thanks for your thoughts and keep promoting Wikitree!
prehaps the reason that some P M  are not adding a sousce is because it has to be done a certain way with symbols etc.I entered on one that the source was from my Grandfather`s Journal [which I now own ]  about the birth of his son.  but rec. message that  it needed a source .  I  could not make it any clearer then that so I left it the best way I knew how.
Hi Martha,

Just put the source under the section heading "== Sources ==" with an asterisk in front of the source text (e.g., "Personal journal of...").  If it's already been labelled "{{unsourced}}", just delete that text.
excellent idea!

7 Answers

+28 votes
Best answer
It is preferred not to add the unsourced category to profiles with no sources, they all end up in one place and are difficult to sort through and fix.

There is a template you can add to profiles that have no sources which allows you to add a country to the category, this makes it easier for Profile Improvement members, or other members as well, to find profiles that need sources in a country where they have some knowledge.

To use the template add {{Unsourced|country }} to the top of a profile, replace country with the name of the area where the profile is from, such as {{Unsourced|United States }}, or {{Unsourced|German }} or {{Unsourced|Scottish }} . The space between the last word and }} is important for creating the correct Category name. As well as adding it to the category the template adds a text box explaining what to do.

If you do not know the country or it involves more than one you can add {{Unsourced}} as a last resort. This adds the text box and puts the profile in the general category.
by R. G. G2G6 Pilot (213k points)
selected by Unknown Unknown
Rhian I think we should start a new discussion making it easier for people to notice your post about the template.
this is exaltly what I am talking about . with   [[    ]]    space etc. why can`t a source be a simple source,with out the extra.

Martha, don't worry about the coding. The source citation is more important than the coding. You could enter it this way:

Martha Leger was born in the 1930s, daughter of Garland Beaugh and Martha (Richard) Beaugh. (Source: Birth Certificate - Martha Leger, California Dept of Vital Statistics, #12345... etc)

+15 votes
Does the following constitute a source?


* WikiTree profile Morton-2298 created through the import of Lutz-Amoroso Family Tree.ged on May 18, 2012 by [[Lutz-294 | Michelle Lutz]]. See the [ Changes page] for the details of edits by Michelle and others.
by Tom Bredehoft G2G6 Pilot (195k points)
Right. I see you now. I DO get a bit lost sometimes... that's why I ask!
I agree a duplicate profile does not deserve credit. If the duplicate had a source the original profile didn't have then  credit should be given for the source they provided.

Technically it IS a source. It isn't a good source but the information did come to Wikitree from Lutz-Amoroso Family Tree.ged on May 18, 2012. Unfortinately yhat does make it a source. I think we can all agree that it is not an acceptable source but if there are no other sources included with the upload for that profile then it is all you have at the moment. I agree with Philip though and put it in the acknowledgements section.

Eugene: The distinction I make in this case is, did the person creating the profile add the source him- or herself? In the case of the Ancestry stuff, I would say they did not. All that stuff amounts to is gibberish created through GEDCOM uploads. It's not at all the same as if someone consciously wrote something in the source field.
Well said Micheal!!!

Having recently run into a lot of incorrect data on my family profiles (from gedcoms!) i like the term "gibberish".
Thank you. It should have read "him- or herself."
I use to find information and find it worth the $150 for a world membership.  But in attributing the information, it's silly to use as the primary source.  Usually they tell you where the information came from.  So the citation should be something like "Census of 1880, Providence, Rhode Island, cited by"  That way the reader is directed to the original primary source.
It is helpful if the named GEDCOM is viewable, particularly with disconnected profiles as there are projects that use this info for reconnecting.
I used to delete all the non-source "sources" on the grounds that they aren't real sources. But people keep saying that it's helpful to know where the profile came from, even if it doesn't have a gravestone or birth certificate or census &c attached.

So, now I put things like "ancestry family trees", "pedigree resource file", the name of the gedcom (often multiple gedcoms) in the Acknowledgements section. I don't mean to give credit exactly, it just helps to show how the profile came to be.
This question from 2013 is closed. Most Info noted here is no longer applicable after some policy changes. Maybe start a new discussion to further the discussion if needed.
–17 votes
If there is a reference to a birth, death or marriage and no source to where it was found, then I think the information should be deleted unless the source of the information is found.

A post should be left for the manager of the profile informing him/her of it.
by Mary Hammond G2G6 Mach 7 (79.4k points)
While I'm all about sourcing information, I don't think it's a good idea to delete vitals leaving blank date fields. At least with unsourced vitals, we are offered a clue where and when to look. With blank fields, we have nothing.
agreed!   :)
I list them under a disputed facts header and mark them as citation needed before adding to the narrative.
Jillaine agree that leaving those clues is a great idea. Just placed in a disputed facts under the bio.

With unsourced vitals, I would leave the vitals there as a record but with no sources. I agree with you that we are offering a clue where and when to look for the source.
Even unsourced information can provide vital clues needed for finding sources. The idea of deleting vital information from a profile simply because it's not sourced flies in the face of the need for vital information used to complete merges and really frightens me. This sounds like it could create an even worse mess than the one it's intended to clean up.

Please be kind to folks with profiles that are missing sources or that have garbled ones from Ancestry. I think it's really hard on new users to discover that the way the upload process works creates a garbled mess of their sources. Yes, much of that mess is created by other online programs such as when they create the GEDCOM, but please remember that it is not the members' fault. Not everyone has tons of time to spend on cleaning up profiles, so they may not be able to move as quickly through those profiles as you'd like. I know that even though I limited the number of people in my GEDCOMS, I'm still finding it slow going to clean things up. But, just because the sources aren't usable here, doesn't mean there weren't sources to begin with, or that the data is incorrect.
I echo the request to be patient with those of us who are sort of new and methodically working through cleaning up a large GEDCOM file naively uploaded. All of the comments here have been instructive and helpful. It has taken me a while to learn where the help is located, but I'm still working at it! Thanks to all of you who are here!
Sometimes the source can be inferred.  If the item says "born 1643", you haven't a clue where it came from, but if it says, "born St. James Parish, Jan 23, 1643" you can suspect that the original source is a parish record.  You can also guess that it is probably not the birth date, but the date of baptism (christening).  

I'm a firm advocate of detailing how surmises came about.  I may put "1630" in the birthdate box, but then explain in the profile -- "George had to be born earlier than 1635 because he was an adult when he inherited property in 1656.  Since he married in 1651 and was likely 21 at the time, 1630 is a suggested birthdate."
Jack, while I'd love to agree with you, I've seen-- especially in the Puritan Great Migration space of the 1600s-- far too many equivalents of "born St. James Parish, Jan 23, 1643" that turned out to be either fabrications or references to other people by the same name (or even not the same name!) born on that date in that place.

Certainly it's a clue of where to go looking, but I wouldn't infer a source from such a date.

-- Jillaine
I think we're in complete agreement except I may be using the word "infer" as a much softer word -- better than "guess" but not by a whole lot!  I recently was researching a Day and came across a bio that gave detailed accounts of his baptism in St. Luke's Church, Shrewsbury, England.  Well, we'd visited Shrewsbury last spring (I wanted to see the birthplace of my ancestor Sampson Waring) and I knew the churches there and there was no St. Lukes.  So I googled some more and came an account of one of the "genealogical fabricators" of the last century who for a price would give you a line of descent from anyone.  They did beautiful work, and 80% of it was probalby true -- with the other 20% well disguised."
Perhaps the "birth" field should have "radio" button = to "bp" = 'baptised' ? - - this could help stop the confusion with pre 1800 dates - - cheers -john.a -
It's important not to make the datafield do to much work.  The work needs to be in the narrative where you can use complete sentences to describe exactly what the fact is and where it came from.  The number in the data field should then reflect that.  The data field already contains the possible notation "before this date."  If the date of baptism is known and entered there, then "before this date" can be checked.
+12 votes

This is a great discussion!  I come across several profiles that contain only one tid-bit of information and a source of public trees.  I am uncertain that tagging such profiles with {{Unsourced|country }} is the valueable tool it was intended to be.  Perhaps, another pipe with the profile manager's Wiki ID would minimize these profiles.  If the profile manager is consistently adding what I consider "unsourced profiles" this may assist in limiting their ability to continue uploading gedcoms. A secondary value could minimize duplicates that need to be merged.

Any thoughts?

by David Wilson G2G6 Pilot (104k points)
Thanks David!  That is a different perspective I hadn't thought of. I was thinking it was mostly Arborist that add them. I get tunnel vision by the time I get to the point I have to add to that category.
+9 votes
Hi Michelle! I've added sources for the danes on the list except one (couldn't find anything), but I see no meaning in adopting the profiles. By adding sources I've removed 9 profiles from the category.
by Hans Jørgen Kølle G2G6 Mach 4 (46.9k points)

Awesome Hans! Thanks for knocking some off of the list.smiley

+11 votes

Just wanted to add that this is another one of the things on Wikitree that is too hard to find.  There are quite a number of these, from what I've seen.

If you use the pulldown menu "Find" and select "Categories," there is no mention of "unsourced" on that page.

I had to use my tried and true Google search to find it: category unsourced

That will get you there.  But this, and quite a few other things on Wikitree, should be easier to find.

by Fred Remus G2G6 Mach 4 (40.8k points)

This question was asked over a year ago so the unsourced category has expanded quite a bit. It's listed under maintenance category.

+2 votes
This question probably needs to be closed. I asked in 2013 and a lot here doesn't apply when it was asked. Several things have changed since.
by Michelle Hartley G2G6 Pilot (154k points)

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