Data has been removed from Profile; In it's place are only external links

+11 votes
248 views

I went back to flesh out a stub of a profile I'd entered a year ago and was surprised to find that much of my biography and timeline had been removed. In their place were footnotes that referred a viewer to sites on 

*FamilySearch

*FindAGrave

*Ancestry.com

I have seen some G2G discussions about Wikitree preference to including links to free sites vs paid sites, but I cannot find anything in the Style Guide about encouraging including "real data" in Wikitree vs. "links to data" elsewhere.

I raise this issue because I have a perpetual worry about links that fail, especially for a site we hope to continue for at least an eon or two…. How many of you can find a live link from something you referenced 15 years ago - there aren't many. (I even worry about links to my own Wikitree Photos and Sources that are on a different page). I believe using a link to external data is a great addition, but perhaps only as a supplement down at the bottom of the Profile, at the end of "Sources" with the recommended "See also:" which is stated in the guides.

My understanding (hope) of Wikitree is that the data should be in the Profile page as much as possible. 

* So, as an example, a timeline including an 1850 census record should include that census data, for example, Names, ages, birthplaces, all that good stuff

* Instead, this data was changed and now reads: "1850 [13]" (hyperlink 13)

* which then links you down the page to "Source: #1850 1850 United States Federal Census" 

* which in turn links further down the page to a Reference Section: 

Is this a recommended or supported Style for Wikitree? I can no longer make any sense out of the profile of which I am a manager. I have not re-edited the page, nor have I contacted the Change-maker - yet - so I have not referenced the specific profile here. Can someone point me to the place in the Style Guide that has guidelines for this topic, so that I may approach this diplomatically - and maybe educate myself as well.

Many thanks!

in Policy and Style by Robert Seale G2G3 (3.9k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
The biography and timeline should not have been removed. But there is nothing wring with adding links to sources as well.

Links to sources usually are external to wikitree. they certainly are not held in the wikitree database.

While it is preferable that links are to free sites, it is not a requirement. Sometimes the only sources available are to places such as Ancestry and FMP. In which case we can still use them. But if that is the case then a written citation can be added so that we can read where and what the source is. Is it a census record, a BMD record, a land record, a will etc. What kind of source is it? A note should always be made. .

What you describe (the numbers that are linked to references which have more links to the sources) are called inline sources - which I personally DO NOT like.

I just add my sources in the sources section directly. If anyone wants to check the sources, they should already know to check the source section. And I always describe what kind of source I am using.

Thank you Robynne, Doug and Dennis for your thoughtful responses thus far.
Doug, this was not a merge, but I agree that it appears to be a selective addition of GEDCOM data that creates most of the mess
Dennis - nothing plagiarized, and the data removal may have been inadvertant (I hope) with the contributer dealing with his own messy GEDCOM jungle.
Robynne - Are you using the term "in-line sources" (which you say you dislike) differently than I understand from G2G discussions? I think you are referring to the example I listed with a hyperlink that bounces you to a "Source" which is just a hyperlink to another website - yes? My use of "in-line source" is the standard <ref>…</ref> citations in a narrative with the specific details appearing under Sources, which I believe is the "recommended but not required" method of referencing data. Doug, I assume that's what you mean by "embedded sources."

From writing technical papers I expect all data to have it's own source for support, so I find that style comfortable - I remain more concerned for how easy it is to remove data and rely on links that could disappear (yes, I know they're retrievable - but just imagine the future researcher trying to look through a history of changes in one of your profiles to separate the true from the not-so-true. It's hard enough for me to do on my own profile entry).

I agree that external links are "okay" but I think there should be enough data provided in the Wikitree profile that it can stand alone as a document, and not simply a conduit to, maybe, somewhere else.

Thank you all -

4 Answers

+7 votes
This is the style that happens with GEDCOM imports from Ancestry trees. While they might be acceptable, they aren't the preferred format. The Style Guide for sources doesn't mention this form but rather to list them at the bottom or use embedded sources. Did the person who changed do a merge  and the remove the good sources you had?

Anyway, a good citation following the recommended Evidence Explained form can include links but also provides sufficient information to find the data if the links break.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (324k points)
+8 votes
Hi Robert.  I don't think the practice, as you describe it, is recommended or supported, and I agree completely with your analysis.  I'm not sure whether the Style Guide addresses it or not.  The only conceivable reason that somebody should be deleting data is if you were plagiarizing somebody else's text or were committing a copyright violation.  Including the data from an 1850 census record sure doesn't qualify for deletion -- (I hope whoever did that never stumbles onto one of the profiles I've done!).  I think you should contact the person and ask him/her to stop doing it, and if you don't get satisfaction, use this process:

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Help:Problems_with_Members

FYI, you can restore your old data by going through the Changes log.  You don't need to re-enter everything manually.
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (275k points)
+1 vote

Hi Robert, 

I looked at one of the profiles that had considerable changes. It seems that person likes a different format for the profiles than you do. We certainly do have a help page for that: Communicating Before Editing I would try talking to the person and offering to collaborate. They may be unaware that they are removing critical information. If this doesn't work, then follow the Problems with Members procedure and get help from a Mentor.

by Mindy Silva G2G6 Pilot (272k points)
+2 votes
I recently had this happen to two profiles too that I had been working on. Neither one was actually mine though.  One was a premerge.

A person came in, and reformatted existing sources to a Hyperlink and a brief description.   All citation information was removed.  All comments.  No new information was added.   The hyperlinks were to sources that existed on the profiles before the change.  In fact, in one case, all the hyperlinks were already there, they just deleted most of the citation information and put the hyperlink in front of the "note" instead of behind it.

I checked the person's activity, and they are very active.  They have over 99,000 contributions, and I checked some of the other profiles they had been active on, and they all looked the same.  Many do belong to the member, and she does add a lot of people.  I don't know how she randomly ran into two of the profiles I was working on, which btw were not MINE per se.

I changed the ones I was working on back to the way I like them with full citation information.

But this had nothing to do with Gedcom imports or Ancestry or anything like that.
by Wendy Fromme G2G6 Mach 2 (22.3k points)

When you see someone systematically removing citation data like this, particularly on a large scale, please contact them and explain why this is inappropriate. If you don't get an indication that they understand the issue and will fix the problems they are creating, it's time for a Mentor Intervention Request. See Help: Problems With Members for details.

We all need to watch out for problems affecting the shared tree, not just the profiles of our ancestors or the ones where we are profile managers.

Ellen check your inbox ; )  I messaged you as a mentor.

The majority of the profiles affected seem to be the members own.
I haven't seen your email yet, Wendy....

It may have been delayed in transit....
I still don't seem to have your message, Wendy... Could you try again?

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