Feedback requested on source formatting

+13 votes

I'm new to creating profiles here, and I'd appreciate some feedback on the style I've used for sources on Viola (Hall) Thompson's profile [Hall-36310]. (I have several more sources to add for her. My research notes section is still a work-in-progress.)

For a single person like this, I prefer my source lists to be chronological by the event they primarily describe, so even if a later source mentions an earlier event, I don't cite it until later. For example, I don't cite census records, her obituary, or cemetery when I mention her birth in the biography. (I might do that in a published manuscript, but I can only control the order of sources on WikiTree by their first citation.)

I've tried to conform to the Evidence Explained style for primary sources. I've also added derivative online sources, listing free sources first. I've also noted the ones that require a subscription, to hopefully save readers a click and annoying paywall if they aren't subscribers.

I've also decided to indicate the relevant data from a source in bold. That doesn't conform to any publication style, but I feel it draws the reader's eye to the actual important information that might otherwise get lost in a wall of text.

Before I finish adding sources for Viola (and before I go back and rework the other few profiles I've added), I'd like to know if there's any way I can improve the presentation of these sources.

in Policy and Style by J. Thompson G2G1 (1.5k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
I don't see your sources backing up the data.  You have that she was born April 2, 1888 and there are three sources which seem to pertain to that yet there is not one.  If she is the fifth child (out of eleven) then there goes the chronological order you mentioned since the other children must be from a later time.

Her marriage shows a source but there is not one.

There is however some information which you have made bold in the sources section which would be better in the biography.  Normally when you read and notice a footnote indicator one just takes it for granted that it must be so.  Think about a normal book.  If you see a little number at the end of a paragraph you don't actually flip to the end of the book to check the source.  It shouldn't be any different here.

An easy way to make sure your information is sourced is make each sentence a stand-alone paragraph which should end with a source.  Then you can combine the sentences if they belong in the same paragraph.

Something else to consider when you develop profiles is will someone in the future be able to easily replicate your style (and will they?). If not, your hard work will have been in vain!

Normally I wouldn't say anything but you asked.

Best of luck!
I still have some research notes to add for conclusions (like her exact date and place of birth and marriage) that aren't directly and primarily supported by a source.

I agree about editability. Someone else might be very intimidated by these citations and choose not to make an edit that would improve the profile. Or they might be bold and make a tiny mistake that destroys the profile.

But as long as WikiTree recommends inline citations and doesn't provide a facility for users to manage and edit them, its recommendations run counter to its own goals. If it wants to present itself as manuscript-quality research, it should have started with sources and not by users entering unsourced conclusions.

I also agree about including data from sources within the source list itself. There were a few examples of this in Evidence Explained, but I now realize that the data was only included in those examples because it was necessary to uniquely identify the source in a citation. (For example, when two people with the same name but different ages are mentioned on a page and there's no other way to tell them apart.) I'm going to take that bold information out of the source list completely, and if appropriate, work it into the narrative as you suggested.


1 Answer

+11 votes
Best answer
J, you have done a superlative job of it!  I think your style, which provides all possible locations where a specific source can be accessed is wonderful - I have never seen anyone else do this before, but it certainly allows for many different ways to access the information.

Your footnotes are perfect and I know that many new members - even a good number of older ones - struggle with the tags to make this happen.

I did notice that your Research Notes section is at the end, where they look perfectly at home, despite the WikiTree recommended way of putting the Sources section last, so some may take issue with that, although I actually like it better the way you did it.

Incredible work - Congratulations for your masterpiece!
by Gaile Connolly G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
selected by Pip Sheppard
Got to agree - nice job!
I appreciate your kind words!

I didn't realize that the sources were recommended to always be the final section in a profile. To me, and to anyone reading, I hope they're more important than my research notes. So I'll gently resist that recommendation by keeping my notes at the end.
I feel that the Research Notes section bridges the gap between the Bio section and the Source section (so I place it between them): explaining how the "facts" in the bio were interpreted from the (sometimes conflicting) evidence of the sources. But just my my opinion.
And I agree with Gaile and Shirley, great job on sourcing the profile!
That does make sense about the research notes section. I've basically used it as a place where readers might discover other sources. Perhaps I'll just subsume that information into a "See Also" list in the sources section.

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