Sources, is it me or??

+11 votes
Sometimes, I notice, while going through profiles that have other managers besides myself that sources might just be one sentence.  Such as:

::Marriage Records

That is it. No resource cited, etc...

I am not saying who or WHAT profiles.  These irritate me to no end.  Of my tree, my mom did most of the research, I do not have her notes and uploaded the gedcom as she created it. I do not have her notes tho, so I add what I find myself.  Basically I have only the names, unless she added something on her tree program before she passed.

I am a VERY VISUAL person.

For every source I find I try to upload or reference something that proves what I have done.  (Have messed up occasionally, not saying I haven't).  Quite often there is not visual record so I try to cite the source that is there specifially to be cited.

Does this drive anyone else crazy?
in Policy and Style by Betty Tindle G2G6 Mach 7 (70.8k points)
That's a little thin, but if somebody says something like "marriage bonds of Foobar County", I can live with that. I'd prefer "Foobar County Marriage Bond Book A p. 23" but at least I know where to look.
I agree, Ben!!  Even the book number would be great.

6 Answers

+11 votes
Best answer
WikiTree is an evolving site, and virtually everything which is added makes it better.  

You'll find profiles that have no sourcing at all.  Sooner or later, they will.

You'll find profiles with a source like ::marriage records.  That's slightly better.  Not much (since if there was a date for the marriage, you can already guess it was probably marriage records that produced the date!), but slightly.

When you see a profile like this, it doesn't mean (or shouldn't mean) that somebody thought it was done.  It's simply the best that someone could do at the time.  And it's ready for more.

When I come to a site where there's a lot of garbage, the first thing I do is ask whether in the midst of all the letters and numbers there is a clue to better sources for the information.  If there is, then what looks like garbage has helped me improve the sourcing.

When you come to a site that looks like it needs work -- and if the only sourcing is ::marriage records, it does! -- the operative question shouldn't be, "what's wrong with this profile" -- asking that will simply create a lot of negative emotions (!) -- but rather, "how can I make this better?"

Virtually everything we do on a collaborative site is to build on something somebody else has done.  If everybody else's work was already perfect and complete, we'd have nothing to add!
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (349k points)
selected by Kim Clark
Jackkkkk....but, but...I wanna be perfect!  LOL

I understand what you mean.  I just think marriage record is extremely vague, not to mention, a very broad area. :)

When I uploaded my gedcom most of my profiles were unsourced cuz I picked up only what my mom had been able to actually enter before she died.  Alas, my sister has my mom's records, we have conflicting work schedules, try to add what I find.

I will keep in mind your more positive view though, a better way of looking at it.
And thankfully. our ultimate goal for now is an entire master pedigree chart that shares all of our "Adam Genes"  traced back too Ancient "Copper Age" Nineveh!! So lets keep it up yall. (:
+11 votes

The problem is, different people have different views and opinions on what a source is. Personally, coming from a research & academic background, I've always been under the impression that a source is a document that should have a full citation and defined repository to enable another researcher to be able to locate the document..even if it is in a private collection.

However, many people don't include full citations...and I do find it makes validating research harder. However, I don't let it bother me...I've come to accept that I am more obsessive about detail than most people, and will add extra detail to other people's profiles when I can.

by Michelle Wilkes G2G6 Pilot (121k points)

I am not an academic, wish I were, but even in school, way back in the 60's and 70's I was taught about citing sources.

I do ignore them, try to add something more substantial without removing.  It nibbles at my mind tho...for a long time.  LOL
+9 votes

I am always disappointed to see these “sources”. Another one is “” or even better just *. I will often try to find a source and add it to the profile. Sometimes I will just add the unsourced tag, although your example is questionable for that one. When I see a consistent pattern of lack of sources from an active manager, I might send their mentor a private message,

According to the help page, a good source citation enables others to:

  1. judge the accuracy of the information found on the profile, and
  2. independently verify the information by finding the source themselves.
Maybe the honor code should expand item VIII
by Kay Knight G2G6 Pilot (381k points)

I agree, cuz a source like the example I used above doesn't mean very much.  Where and When are vital pieces of info as far as I am concerned.

I don't know what should be done.  No clue, wish I did.
What should be done: replace that “source” with a better one.
+6 votes
I hope what you're seeing is an artifact of the old system of computerized genealogy which focused heavily on taking handwritten trees and entering them into Genealogy database programs like Family Tree Maker, and then subsequently uploading the resulting databases to online genealogy sites.  I would hazard a guess that ":: Marriage Records" is a placeholder that was uploaded to WikiTree through a gedcom upload, where the user's genealogy database program included a place for a Marriage Record to be input, but none was entered.  If I see something like that on a profile that I'm editing, I just delete it.  It's useless to me and any other researcher that might come along in the future.
by Kyle Dane G2G6 Mach 9 (99.9k points)
Actually Kyle, I think you could be right.  I had not thought of that, yet have seen such things on my profiles after uploading a gedcom.  Thak you for the reminder. :)
Kyle, you may be right that "Marriage Records" is a computer-generated placeholder.  Or it may be that at some point a researcher used that as short hand for "there are records for this marriage and I thought this was enough information to add."  You don't know whether it's one or the other.

I try to never delete incomplete or marginal information until I have better information to add.  You observe that the information is useless to you and any other researcher that might come along in the future.  You know that it's useless to you.  You don't know what bad or incomplete material may be useful or useless to others who are willing to roll up their sleeves and actually research a profile.  Fortunately we have the Changes section.  More than once I've had to go back and look under Changes for information that somebody else thought was useless and just deleted!

So I'd say for ::Marriage Records -- do the research and find the records, and then you can replace an obviously poor and extremely incomplete source with something better.  Or leave it alone!
Well, you've got your style and I've got mine.  In the past, I thought I was being gracious by leaving references like this behind in the Bio section of profiles I edited, but over my time here on WikiTree I have seen the result: hundreds of lines of pointless code which multiply as similarly unsourced profiles are merged and no one cleans up afterward.

My guess as to what you're trying to say is that I should leave behind any lines of code that give a hint as to what the gedcom uploader might have been thinking as they entered their profiles, whether those lines point to an actual source or not.  I just don't see how leaving those lines of code in the Biography or Sources section helps anyone that might come along to the profile to do subsequent genealogy work, or even simply to view the profile of their ancestor.   Aren't they better off with a clear, concise summary of the research, data, records and sources that have been found to date?

In any case, the stuff that I "removed" isn't gone, as you point out.  It's still retained in the Changes section for anyone who wants to enter the mind of a past genealogy researcher.
Please leave the markers.  They tell me where and what to put there.  Otherwise, I just forget, then you all yell because there aren't any sources...
I myself do not remove them, Georgia. ;)  No worries here.  (I remove if I have a full and complete resource to add)
+3 votes
I feel the same way Betty.  If someone makes a claim about a fact, such as "Thomas and Mary were Nancy's parents," I want to know why they are making this assertion.  A one line entry that says "marriage record" is not helpful.

This just happened to me yesterday.  Nancy is a new find - likely the sister of my great-great-great-grandmother.  Six different Ancestry trees list her parents as Thomas and Mary, but the only source they cite is a document that was typed in MS-Word that contains the line "From a handwritten page in a family bible"

So frustrating.......
by Ray Jones G2G6 Pilot (153k points)

Actually that's not so bad,   Bible entries fom several generations ago are genealogical gold.  It would of course be better to know whose Bible it was entered in, but that is still way better than a lot that we see.  While I haven't looked at the profiles, I'm thinking you may have a good source there (barring human error in interpretation/transcription/etc.).

I agree, Ray.   In my mind it leaves to much open for intrepretation and error.

A note however.  I have seen "Delayed Birth Records".  Those that I have seen so far, have all been for people who were born in the 1800's but I guess they had no record of their birth.  In every single request I have seen that person has brought with them the family Bible as proof.  There is always a witness too.

I dunno, hard to say, isn't it?

I'm still too visual, I wanna SEE where you are getting it from.  I upload everything I find, hopefully I don't have those running Wikitree cussing me out. :)
I have seen the reference tags when indicating no source too, Mikey.
Well Mikey -

I hope you're right!  :)

My problem is that this entry was first published on an Ancestry tree profile back in 2012.  Since that time, there has not been any additional evidence added to support this.  While I am hoping for the best, there is very little to go on when someone just lists "family bible" as the source.  I am checking the surnames in my DNA matches, but we are dealing with ancestors who moved from Virginia to Kentucky in the late-1700s/early-1800s (i.e. a lot of confusion, many different Thomases and Marys, and two pretty common surnames for Virginia and Kentucky - Wright and Bullock).

Betty -

Yes - I am with you on this.  While I realize that I most likely won't be able to see the actual bible (or even a copy of the page), it would be really helpful to know whose bible, how they are related to Nancy, and any other research that specific family members might have done.  "Family Bible" just doesn't allow for this.
+5 votes
The one that's bothering me lately is an inline citation to indicate no source.  They use <ref> tags around "A source citation is needed".  So it shows as a number, usually 1, that links to a footnote that tells you there's no source.  Sticking with the {{citation needed}} template is much better, or just (citation needed) would do.   But I absolutely hate using footnotes to say there's no source.
by M Anonymous G2G6 Mach 4 (47.2k points)
This was (is?) an automated statement generated by the system.

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