Only 4 2nd-level sections allowed - which should the section added by the Magna Carta project be under? [closed]

+9 votes

I recently was made aware of a style guideline (see [this section]* under Help:Biographies) that says only the following headings can be at the second level:

  • Biography (required)
  • Research Notes (optional)
  • Sources (required)
  • Acknowledgements (optional)

The Magna Carta project added a second-level "Gateway Ancestors" section to all the Surety Barons in June 2016 and has been adding second-level sections discussing a profile's trail since before then. A recent effort, to standardize these trail discussions, began with the availability of stickers and the clarified guidelines on the use of project boxes and project accounts. The project guidelines need to change for the recommended "Magna Carta trail" / "Magna Carta ancestry" section (as a second-level section) to be a third-level section, under... which one of those allowed?

I would propose that a Magna Carta project-added section be the last subsection under Sources, because

  • most profiles that will have the Magna Carta project-added section will have had the sources either added or reviewed by the project.
  • it will mean that the Magna Carta project-added section will consistently be the last (or nearly the last) section of the profile.
  • the Sources section is required, so all profiles will already have that section.
  • it could get overlooked in a Biography section that has a lot of 3rd-level sections.
  • the Research Notes section is optional and may not already exist in the profile (resulting in the Magna Carta project-added section being the only information in the section, which would - in my opinion - look wrong), and because the Research Notes section tends to be more for problems than for support.
  • the Acknowledgements section, also optional, is infrequently used, resulting in the same awkwardness of having the Magna Carta project-added section the only information in the section, which is not (to me) intuitively appropriate to "Acknowlegements", although considering the amount of work project members put into these profiles, perhaps the Magna Carta project-added section should  be under it.

So my question to everyone with an interest in profiles that are on (or should be on) the Magna Carta project's watchlist, where would you think a Magna Carta project-added section would be most logical - under Sources or under Acknowledgements?


  • (Gateway Ancestors section moved to be under Sources)
  • (Gateway Ancestors section not moved... [just a note: "Issue" hanging out as a second-level section is not a project-recommended style])
  • (Magna Carta trail section [not a badged profile]** - still 2nd level but easily changed... it's already below Sources)
  • (Magna Carta ancestry section [badged profile]** - still 2nd level, between Sources & Acknowlegements

* Unless something has changed since I posted this question, [this section] on Help:Biographies flips the recommended order of Project Boxes and Research Note Boxes as given on Help:Research Note Boxes (see [this section]). For Magna Carta project profiles, we follow the order given on the latter: "If a Project Box is used on the same profile, the Research Note Box template should appear below it."

** "badged profile" is defined in the [Magna Carta Project Glossary]

edit - I had bulleted the lead-in for the "because" bullets. It's now a lead-in instead of the first bullet. I also moved the Examples list up a bit.

closed with the note: Decision made (see comment)
in Policy and Style by Liz Shifflett G2G6 Pilot (467k points)
closed by Liz Shifflett
Decision made: Magna Carta Project section goes under Acknowledgements as a 3rd-level heading - see

5 Answers

+15 votes

I don't believe that page [style guideline] says anything about limiting the total number of headings you can use (regardless of level), only specifying the minimum required and the preferred order.

edit: clarifying

by Dennis Wheeler G2G6 Pilot (537k points)
edited by Dennis Wheeler
+8 votes
To me it seems the purpose of the statement it to acknowledge the role of Richardson's research and the work of the Magna Carta project, so I think the best place would be under Acknowledgements.
by Jamie Nelson G2G6 Pilot (378k points)
Thanks Jamie - I think my opinion is heading from Sources to Acknowledgements. Then it truly would be the last section on the profile!
+17 votes
Liz, I read the whole page that you link to and I do not see anywhere that says you can only use those headings. The way I read it is that those are the recommended headings and some of them are optional but nowhere did I read that other headings should not be used. I feel that if you really want another heading then it is allowed so this is a non issue.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
Chris clarified in an email to leaders that those are the only top level headings currently approved.
This is why linking to that page is not a good idea. It seems that the leaders get information and no one bothers to update the help sections so that the rest of us get the good information. I know that in this case it is very minor but how can anyone be expected to follow the rules when only a very few even know about them?
totally agree with Dale here.

maybe if there need to be restrictions in a large open text field, then perhaps that field should be coded into separate smaller, and limited, field blocks - which can then be displayed together once saved.
I mean it specifies the 4 allowed sections and then says other information should go in level 3 subsections, but further clarification on the help page wouldn't hurt.

The existing statement on the page is what was intended to mean that only those four sections should be used:

"Any other elements or subsections should go below one of the recommended sections described above"

(in the section).

I missed it too, which is why I asked for clarification in the Leaders discussion group. Chris clarified & put revisions to that page on his to-do list. He's swamped, so I didn't want to state the policy would be clarified , especially since the statement "Any other elements or subsections should go below one of the recommended sections described above" is clear, just easily overlooked.

Cheers, Liz

Unless I missed it somewhere (wholly possible), these changes were never discussed, here or in the Leader’s list, just announced (and now being reacted to in both places). But I was very surprised. I had never understood that top level headers were limited to these few. (And I was heavily involved  in the early development of the Style Guide.)

We’re typically asked to propose and discuss style changes here in g2g before making them.

But It’s also possible that intent was mis-communicated from the beginning and what was interpreted as “recommended” by some (myself included) was always intended by Chris as “required”?

Anyway, this reiteration of Chris’s understanding/interpretation of the intent of the style guide has massive consequences for hundreds if not thousands of profiles. And for projects as well.

I hope that Chris is willing to re open this issue.
The key to good collaboration is good communication and in this case it looks like a breakdown in communication is the root of this problem.

my favorite Middleman quote:

specificity is the soul of all good communication

+11 votes
Liz, I'm not in anyway underestimating the work done by the Magna Carta team (and Douglas Richardson) now or in the past to clean up these lines, which is fantastic for every descendant of the surety Barons.  

But the concept of Gateway Ancestors in the context of Magna Carta descendants is very much confined to the United States.

So I would query, does that statement needs to be there in the first place?  Could links to Gateway ancestors come from the Magna Carta Base Camp?  If the feeling is that it should be on each surety Baron who had descendants, then it definitely needs to be near the bottom of the profile.  Maybe it would fall under the Sources - See also: section?
by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (486k points)

it is pretty low on the page already... and will soon become a subsection under either Sources or Acknowledgements. I'm thinking that I should count your comment as a vote for Acknowledgements (acknowledging & linking to other work done by the project - which, being based on Richardson's Magna Carta Ancestry, is restricted to Gateways who immigrated to what's now the USA). 

Cheers, Liz

Sorry Liz, but my preference is that it shouldn't be there at all.  I see no reason why on a profile we should be emphasising one group of descendants over other descendants who may have remained in England or emigrated to other parts of the world.


I think that might be something future leaders of the Magna Carta project can consider. As a current leader, I think the Gateway Ancestors section should stay because it helps people find information about other surety barons, and the Magna Carta project is heavily involved in maintaining the profile & is therefore entitled to a bit of real estate on the profile page (but your comments have completed my shift from having the section under Sources to having it under Acknowledgements - I just shifted it on Say-76 as an example).

Thanks Liz,  it does look better right at the bottom of the profile page.
I would hope that the Gateway Ancestors section does not disappear because the concept of a "Trail" is a core concept of the Magna Carta project.  Granted that many many profiles are in better shape now than a couple of years ago when the Magna Carta Project was started, but the essence of the Magna Carta project was to take a particular set of profiles, namely those that genetically linked a Magna Carta surety to a Gateway ancestor, and subject that set of profiles to a high standard of research and presentation, resulting in a badge that this particular profile had undergone a high standard of research and also had been reviewed by others prior to receiving the badge.  

To remove from the profile any evidence that it is part of a trail, or what the trail is, would be to remove what I would consider an essential element of the Magna Carta project.  WHERE that element is on the profile is not so important, but that it is there, and that its presence reflects an achievement of a high standard, is something WikiTree would be the poorer for if it is made to disappear.

I concur with Jack and Liz that some sort of info specific to the person profiled needs to be on the profile after the project has confirmed the line. That said, I don’t think the following general info has to be on the profile:

“Descendants of Magna Carta surety barons who immigrated to the Americas are referred to as Gateway Ancestors. Douglas Richardson documents the ancestry of many who immigrated before 1700 in his Magna Carta Ancestry(#Richardson). WikiTree's Magna Carta project exists "to categorize and improve profiles of the twenty-five medieval barons who were surety for Magna Carta; about two hundred proven American colonial Gateway Ancestors who were their descendants; and the documented lineages that connect them." Using Richardson as its foundational source, the project has identified most Magna Carta Gateway Ancestors with profiles in WikiTree (collected in the category Gateway Ancestors).”

This is info that can appear on the category and/or project page but doesn’t need to be on every profile. 

+5 votes

Working through changes to my thinking in consideration of answers/comments...

I'm thinking that a Magna Carta Project section should go under Acknowledgements, with a bold line with what used to be the heading (Gateway Ancestors, Magna Carta ancestry, or Magna Carta trail).

I changed Say-76 to reflect this. Please take a look and let me know what you think.

Cheers, Liz


by Liz Shifflett G2G6 Pilot (467k points)
Liz, your decisions look very good to me. When I consider all the work behind the links on the Say-76 example, I am so grateful for all that you and rest of MC project members have done. It is beyond anything I imagined when the project began.

I support putting the Magna Carta Project section undert Acknowledgments, with as you wrote, " a bold line with what used to be the heading (Gateway Ancestors, Magna Carta ancestry, or Magna Carta trail)."

Thank you for moving the project forward.
Thanks April! It's an honor to build upon the solid foundation built by you, John S., PM & others.
Since this has come up again in relation to the MCS and PGM projects, I don't think it is working to put a large amount of notes under the sources or even another level 2 heading under the sources.  IMO, sources should be the last thing on any profile, and these long MCS trail and notes are messy.

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