A reminder to those doing sourcing (Sourcing Sprints/Source-A-Thon)...

+31 votes
As a friendly reminder, please be sure to use actual sources.

While working on some Data Doctor suggestions, I've run across numerous profiles that have had the "Unsourced" category removed from them during a Sourcing Sprint or the Source-A-Thon that had "Pedigree Resource Files" from Family Search as the only added source. Each of these "Pedigree Resource Files" that I've looked at have absolutely no sources. They all refer to Ancestry trees.

Adding these are good for referencing, but are 0% quality sources. If you are going to add these to a profile, it is best that these are listed as research notes or "see also" items.
asked in The Tree House by Tim Bittner G2G6 Mach 2 (22k points)
edited by Ellen Smith
Indeed. Have seen some where the template has also been removed, with just an entry stating "Census record" or "Death record" with NO details, link or other info about such record. Once the template is removed, it will drop off the list and never get real sources added.  Not helpful

I, too, noticed a number of people who just added an unsourced tree and removed the template.   That said, one of the people pointed me to the Wikitree "sources" help where it says.....

A source is the identification of where you obtained information.

He explained, that no where on that page does it indicate that a source is a record, document, or something very specific.  Perhaps we need to change our definition of a source.

Robin, while technically correct, the source page does reference and link to the "Uncertain" page and the "Source, Source, Source" section of the "How to Get Started with Genealogy" page, both of which go into greater detail about quality sources.

While I'm no expert on sources, it may be beneficial to have what qualifies as an "actual" source somewhere on the site. I do agree that it is very ambiguous because the source page really only points out that we must state where we get the information. It would be good to include something which states what items are acceptable to list as references, not sources. Items like Debi points out below.

My understanding of what a source is trying to answer the "How, What, Where, When, Who" questions.

*How did you find it.

*What did you find.

*Where was it.

*When was it.

*Who was it about. 

A source like "Census record" only answers the "what" question. It should be easy to add the other answers by saying "Ancestry.com, New York Census, 1840, Joe Bloggs". That covers in order How, Where, What, When, Who. It would give enough clues for someone else to find the source you used even if it doesn't have a link able source. 


Robin, that means that the nearly the entire SAT list needs to double checked.  And that the rules for the Sourcing Sprints and other Sourcing challenges need to be changed and stipulated as to exactly WHAT a source is and the correct way to add it.

I like the Uncertain Information help page, as a guide to sources - it's even linked from my scratchpad so that I always have it handy.

I also noticed this, it made me think that any profile with fewer than 16 or 20  characters, excluding whitespace, after references is probably unsourced.

'A source is the identification of where you obtained information.'

I think this definition is one of the biggest problems on wiki-tree It uses a commonplace definition  but one which I think should have a  specialised meaning. I have a  book on my shelf beside about sources for family, community and local history. It doesn't define a source since it is taken as read that it means a primary source or a secondary one that cites a primary source.

Perhaps we should be saying we are an evidenced based genealogy site and cite  sources for that evidence. 

Otherwise people will continue to use,  ancestral and pedigree resource files  ancestry family trees, geni , my heritage  etc . without any evidence attached to those 'sources'  and claim that their profile is sourced.

4 Answers

+21 votes
Best answer
Agreed, Tim. When doing Sprints, we count profiles which have the unsourced template and also allow profiles which don't have it but have only "Ancestry tree," "Geni.com," Ancestry search results page, "Pedigree Resource Files" from FamilySearch, and the like.

In no way is adding one of those or comparable things an acceptable source. If one of those is added, it should go in a == Research Notes == section and the template should stay or be added.

I've just added a note regarding that to the Saturday Sourcing Sprint boilerplate. Thanks for the heads up.
answered by Debi Hoag G2G6 Pilot (202k points)
selected by Star Kline
Please note that, at this time, ANYONE can use the Sprint Tracker, whether they are a registered participant or not.  If they haven't registered for the Sprint, they probably have not read our guidelines.

We don't want to discourage people from participating, so we are still working to determine how to handle registrations on the day of the event.
+4 votes

I am tagging onto your "question" because I am hoping that it will reach people who participated in the Source-A-Thon and others interested in providing valid sources for our WikiTree profiles.  I added the "unsourced" template ahead of the Source-A-Thon and when it could be determined what country or state, added that information, too.

The problem that I am seeing is that now many of the profiles that had "sources" added are appearing on the error list.  Some of the "sources" were from Ancestry, and not verifiable.  Others, like the example here, had a Find A Grave memorial added, but the dates of birth and death were left blank, or place of birth, death, etc. and now are on the error report for mis-matches:
576 FindAGrave - Empty death date

answered by Janne Gorman G2G6 Mach 2 (21.8k points)
So, now after doing some actual reading of the Find A Grave memorials involved.  I find that the one that was placed on the profile is not even the correct memorial for the profile.

Here is why:  The wife of the William Lucas in question is named Mary Bushfield.  She was born in 1783, in Washington, PA and died in 1891, in Marshall, West Virginia.  

The "sourcer" found a William Lucas on Find A Grave, who happened to have married a Mary Bushfield, HOWEVER, that Mary Bushfield was born circa 1800, and died September 29, 1858, in Washington county, Pennsylvania.  

Unless the person that was participating in the Source-A-Thon found evidence that the only family member in the WikiTree family group sheet has the wrong birthdate, date of death and place of death, and DOCUMENTS that, it just is not appropriate to slap the date of birth and date of death from the wrong Find A Grave memorial onto Lucas-872.

Now the dilemma is how to clear the error report. Should the "source" be removed?
Janne, if you have sources to back up your thought that this FAG memorial is not the correct one, I would replace this source with your better sources. My opinion will always be that Find A Grave is a last resort source :-)
Thanks.  I have been researching this family on and off all day, and finding several obvious errors on Find A Grave.  Recently documented the differences between two Isaac Lucas, both born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, both served in the Revolutionary War (one of which is the father of William Lucas, who married Mary Bushfield).  I am entering the sources for Isaac's date of birth (Massachusetts birth records and DAR records) in the profile, but that will not preclude Isaac from ending up on the next Lucas error report, at which time I will have to justify that the WikiTree profile is correct and the Find a Grave profile is in error.
+4 votes

Another problem that I'm seeing is the ambiguous sources which come in from Ancestry when the WikiTree-X app is used. 

For instance, the same record from Ancestry and FamilySearch:

* Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Death Indexes, 1908-2004 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007.                                                                                                                Original data:                                                  North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics. North Caroline Deaths, 1997-2004. North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics, Raleigh, North Carolina.North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. North Carolina Death Records, 1968-1996. North Carolina Vital Records, Raleigh, North Carolina. North Carolina Archives and Records Section. North Carolina County Records, 1908-1967. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

 "North Carolina Deaths, 1931-1994," database, <i>FamilySearch</i> (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FPQZ-WRT : 17 July 2017), Essie Hagler in entry for John Israel Hagler, 06 Apr 1968; citing Concord, Cabarrus, North Carolina, 12110, State Department of Archives and History, Raleigh; FHL microfilm 1,983,198. 

There's no reference in the Ancestry citation as to whose record was pulled. My guess is that people are deleting all the part in red, leaving just the database name. 

When WikiTree-X was introduced, several of us requested that at least the person of interest and/or waypoints also be scraped from the screen and included in the citation to read something like:

 Ancestry.com.  Essie Hagler
 in the North Carolina, Death Indexes, 1908-2004

That still doesn't tell me that the specific record in question is really for John Isreal Haglar but does help me differentiate between his record and her Death Index record in which she is identified as Essie Lou Hagler.

answered by Debi Hoag G2G6 Pilot (202k points)
edited by Debi Hoag
+5 votes
I can't agree more.  This is why my SAT team spent several weeks in Sourcing 101.  We not only talked about what a good source is, but how to properly cite them in such a way that someone else could find the documents.  

One thing I realize I didn't mention to my team that really are not good sources are the indexes you might find on Ancestry called  U.S. and International Marriage Records, Millennium File and any of the Data Collections such as birth, death and family (Edmund West-compiler).  I think these all come from the pedigree files Debi mentioned.  They are information passed down, but have unknown sources.
answered by Emma MacBeath G2G6 Pilot (526k points)

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