Is this the real weakness of Wikitree?

+18 votes
Was doing some work of the Montagu family. Anne Montagu married Dudley North. Dudley North had the category euroaristo that need work. Made a stab at writing his biography. Ten children are claimed by ODNB to have reached adulthood all named. Added profiles for all the ones we did not have, they're not all fully sourced yet but the 17th C is difficult. None of those offspring was Jane who is said to have died in Virginia. Could not find the names of any of the four children said to have died young. When I looked at Jane I found her marked as a questionable gateway ancestor and someone was asking for a list of her siblings two years ago. Sent a message saying I'd added the siblings. Today I have a request to provide the sources that say that Jane was not a daughter of Dudley North! Jane's profile is completely unsourced. It is suspicious since it says she was married in Lancaster. Surely this is the wrong way round. Leaving unsourced children attached to their parents removes the incentive to find out who they actually were or even to provide sources. Shouldn't have to discuss this on the parents profiles. Would it not be better to remove Jane from her given parents and provide the argument, if there is any, in her biography with links that would make it easy to reconnect if any evidence is found? We can never prove that Dudley and Anne North did not have a daughter, Jane, who died in Virginia. (Also found a duplicate Dudley added last year!)
WikiTree profile: Jane Moss
asked in Policy and Style by C. Mackinnon G2G6 Pilot (127k points)
There should be a very low hurdle for the removal of completely unsourced profiles.

I agree that the onus should be to prove a link, not  to disprove which is often impossible ( I managed to do that recently by showing that the supposed emigrant had died as a child ... the emigrant is now linked to a nephew. (Still no evidence, no evidence that the purported father had any children )

 .Have you seen this

I think the software could be improved if there was specific sourcing for marriage data, and parentage links.

2 Answers

+11 votes
Best answer
On a collaborative site, the bar is always higher to make a change which differs from an opinion already expressed, compared to adding something that nobody else has yet weighed in on.  So if the relationship link is already there, you know that there is some level of disagreement already, however small.

The first step I take in a situation like this is to create a section of the biography called ===Children=== in which I list the known children of the family with source, i.e. will, etc.  Any children currently linked but not documented, I put in a separate section called "other" or something like that.  That at least tells the user of the profile which children are real and which are not.

The second step is to actually de-link them.  It's important to let people know that the de-linking has taken place and why, so I'll create a sentence like, "The following profiles were formerly linked as children on the profile of xxx, however, no evidence could be found of their relationship.  If evidence is found of their relationship, they can easily be re-linked," and then list the children below, with their WikiTree numberf."  I then copy the sentence to each of the affected profiles, and de link them.  That gives the message that you're not opposed to the relationship, you just don't have any evidence for it, and the solution to the issue is not to argue with you, but to find the evidence!

The third step, unfortunately, I am finding I need to take more often -- I run into people who don't read the biographies, but just re-link the family members based on their own unsourced genealogies.  So the third step is to work with the project most closely involved with the profile and have the profile project protected, to protect the profile from added family linkages being made.
answered by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (248k points)
selected by Brian Parton
+18 votes
I would say that asking for evidence of a lack of evidence is not a problem specific to Wikitree, but one of the oldest debating tricks in the book :)

If it happens a lot maybe we can make a page about it, that editors can cite whenever such arguments are used.

(People who are desperate not to get in sourcing competition often find themselves making this argument without realizing how crazy it is. That is how the human mind works. That is why teaching people debating tricks is the best way to avoid them being used.)
answered by Andrew Lancaster G2G6 Mach 6 (69.7k points)

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