Why not allow GEDCOM date modifiers in date fields?

+3 votes
87 views

I ran into a situation recently where documented dates didn't match but I know both were really close to what I calculated as "correct".

Another system I use allows date field modifiers like "About", "Calculated", "Between", "Before", "After". These modifiers can be used in any combination to create a "Date Formula".  A Date Formula language is convenient when trying to describe the documentation in front of you, so you don't have to guess, or leave the field blank.

For date entry I much prefer a date format based on GEDCOM Date modifiers as documented here https://tng.lythgoes.net/wiki/index.php/Dates . This structured format allows processing by a computer, and the genealogist can better describe a "date" formula which fits available documentation. This also allows computer based date rule checking; Example RuleCheck: "Was person born after they died?" - based on entered date/date-formula information. The program I use does this checking and a lot more, which I find really useful for finding data errors. I'd like to see this capability at WikiTree.

in WikiTree Tech by Craig Arno G2G Rookie (220 points)

1 Answer

+1 vote
They're already there, Craig.  On the Edit tab, underneath each date field, are radio buttons to modify the date.
by Ros Haywood G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)

The feature you point out is better than nothing, but doesn't really cover the issue I'm trying to communicate.  I have to disagree, it's not "already there".  Here's a for instance:

I recently tried to locate an uncle's birth date.  He's dead, so I can't ask him. Several unofficial records say "About 1940".  Another says 27 Dec 1939 and another says 29 Dec 1939.  None of these have any Citations, so they are little more than hearsay, probably based on something, but we don't know what.  Since I personally knew him, and knew my mother's (his sister) is Dec 27, I knew 27 Dec wasn't his because same date as my mother's would have been a big deal.  There was no "big deal" so I was pretty sure the real date is 29 Dec 1939.  Without Citations, I have no idea where this date came from, but it rings true in the context of my first hand knowledge.  I also have a 1940 Census taken 11 Apr 1940 which lists Jack as 3/12 [3 months old... January?].

How to record this information?

"About 1940" - Technically accurate, but also vague, much more so than the data and personal knowledge I possess.

"About 27 Dec 1939" - Technically accurate, but also vague,and I'm pretty sure -wrong- and misleading.

"About 29 Dec 1939" - My gut feeling is this is correct, but still vague and ignores the other data which says 27 Dec 1939 and About 1940.

"BET 27 Dec 1939 AND 29 Dec 1939" - Technically correct, fits the records and my own personal knowledge.  Useful in several ways, but can't be entered this way in WikiTree.  It can be entered this way -with- multiple citations to the other sources in TNG, my primary tool.  Any of the 4 forms mentioned can be done in TNG, but not easily in WikiTree.  In WikiTree I have to leave perhaps ambiguous breadcrumbs all over the sources section and hope someone will be able to piece it together later when some other potentially defining information is uncovered, creating and leaving a lot of unnecessary work for someone else.  Not "cool" in my book.

I finally was able to track down and connect with my cousin, his son, late last night and he confirmed "Dec 29" is the correct date... Isn't "Dec 27" your mother's birthday?  cheeky

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