Could we add code for in-line research notes (like source references)? [closed]

+3 votes
158 views

Edit: While this suggestion may still prove helpful to other users, I've decided that just using short citations (with the existing <ref /> code) and defining my sources independently in the Sources section would make my profiles both more readable and more editable.

As long as in-line source definitions and citations are recommended and supported with <ref /> and <references /> code, could we add identical functionality for research notes?

For example, I'm thinking of something like:


== Biography ==
She was born in 1894.<note name="birth">Birth records were not kept until 1911.</note>
== Research Notes ==
<notes />

I've faked it on this profile here: [Hall-36310]. I think as long as in-line source definitions are recommended, it would make sense to handle research notes the same way.

closed with the note: I'm satisfied that the technical answers I've received are accurate.
in WikiTree Tech by J. Thompson G2G Crew (840 points)
closed by J. Thompson

2 Answers

+5 votes
 
Best answer

Footnotes and inline citations are the same thing and there is no problem with intermingling them.  In fact I routinely label the section created by <references/> as "Footnotes and citations:"  Here is an example of what I mean on how I label the different sections under sources.

Because you like to provide such detailed and long sources, I would recommend you follow wikipedias practice of using "short citations" for your inline citations and maintain your complete references in a "Source list" (i.e. Bibliography, works cited, etc.) section as I have shown.  It makes reading and editing the profiles much easier and takes away the problem I think you are having with mixing footnotes and inline sourcing.

by Joe Cochoit G2G6 Pilot (178k points)
selected by J. Thompson
I looked at the profile example of William White and I dont understand why you would WANT to have both Footnotes/Citations AND also the Sources?

That just repeats everything twice and the footnotes/citations do nothing for me. They dont tell me where the information comes from.

The sources tell me this. This is why I detest citations and never use them. but I do add sources!!

Here is MY example profile

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Keats-331

Robynne
This is the best idea I've heard all week! I'll use in-line <ref /> for notes (which will reduce the number of references in the Biography section, improving its editability by other users), and define the sources independently in the Sources section (also improving their editability).

Thank you for the suggestion. I'll try it on another profile first to see how it looks.

Robynne:  There are several reasons why I might want to maintain a source list separate from those created by <references/>.

The first is that it allows me to use Short citations as a much cleaner way of using inline citation.  A short citation can be something as abbreviated as <ref>1900 Census.</ref> or </ref>Anderson, page 512.</ref>.  These are obviously inadequate by themselves, but are just fine if they are pointing to a full and complete reference in the source list.  By not using inline citations, I would say your profiles are not properly sourced.  How do you know she was born in 1849?  How do you know the details of her marriage?  What newspaper articles are you referring to in the biography?  Wikitree strongly encourages the use of inline citations so each fact can be individually and directly supported by a source.

Second a source list serves as a simple storage place for sources which I did not directly use in the biography, but I still want to have for completeness sake.  For example, on my great-grandfather I only used two sources in his biography (so far), but I still want to keep all the references to the census records somewhere on the profile.

Often times when writing a pre-1700 or medieval profile I might want to collect all the known sources somewhere, before I even start writing the biography.  In this profile of Alice Freeman the ‘citations’ and ‘Source list’ might not be very different, but maintaining the source list was critical in writing a complicated and fully sourced profile.

 

Thank you Joe

So the citation are the means to baby all the readers so they dont have to think for themselves and they just need to be shown where everything is?

I would expect anyone reading those profiles that I make - to know to look down at the sources section - which are labelled - and read those.

I'm sorry but those citations really really bug me. They have NO links and they dont go anywhere!  They tell me stuff that the sources can tell me just as well, if not better!!

I hate reading things twice!
Some styles will suit some profiles better than others.

The profiles I manage tend to be just a few sentences of biography supported by a lot of primary sources and even more derivative sources. That means if I define the sources directly in the biography when I cite them, I end up with wikitext that very few users would ever be comfortable editing.

Another option is to define the sources in the sources section and not cite them at all in the biography. That's probably fine if there are only a few sources and it's immediately obvious to even the most casual reader which sources support which conclusions in the narrative. I think it works great in the profiles you've created! I could easily guess which sources to look at if I wanted to evaluate the conclusions you reached in the text.

Yet another option in the biography is to reference a research note that might explain how a conclusion was reached, and then cite the appropriate sources (defined separately in the sources section) supporting that conclusion in the research note. I think that's the approach I'm going to take, mostly because it leaves wikitext other users can be comfortable editing. (I do agree that it seems a little silly to reference a note that cites a source instead of referencing the source directly, especially when they're all on the same page.)
+3 votes
I really like this idea!

While we're at it, what if we were to add a <sources /> line as well?

Using both <notes /> and <sources /> would make <references /> almost obsolete and unused, sure,  but it would be really helpful if there was a way to separate the two with one line of code instead of using <span id= > every time we want to make a research note.

Ideally, instead of using <ref></ref>, it would look like <note></note> and <source></source>.
by D. Botkin G2G6 Mach 2 (28k points)
I agree that <sources /> would also be a semantic improvement over <references /> in terms of how that code is recommended to be used.
While all this inventing of tags sounds like a very nice improvement, y'all need to be aware that WikiTree uses wiki code - and an outdated version of it, at that.  That set of codes does not include the ones you're postulating here - there is no <note> ... </note> tag set, nor is there a <source> ... </source> tag set defined in wiki code, so it would not be possible to add these.
I'm aware of the features and limitations of this version of MediaWiki. Are you saying we shouldn't suggest new features or improvements?
J, I'm not saying that you shouldn't suggest new features or improvements to MediaWiki.  Heaven knows, it could stand a whole lot of improving!

All I'm saying is that to suggest that WikiTree implement codes that are not part of the old version (I don't remember how many revisions out of date) of wiki code that is implemented here has no chance of being put into practice.

By all means, suggest away ... but to those responsible for maintenance of MediaWiki, not to WikiTree.  A worthy suggestion for WikiTree would be to upgrade to the current version, which has many improvements that would be very useful to us.
Thanks, Gaile. I think I understand a bit better now. Does this sum things up?

The text portion of a profile is processed by an older version of MediaWiki that the technical team has decided not to significantly customize. (Which after further consideration is probably smart, if they ever hope to upgrade it.) Any future improvements would most likely come as part of a hypothetical upgrade to a newer version of MediaWiki.
You absolutely nailed it, J!

I am a retired systems engineer and since about 2003 have accumulated what I call an accidental business as a professional web developer.  My work is limited to high-end database driven turnkey information systems for small businesses and small to medium size nonprofit organizations.  Since January, however, I am practically out of business as a result of my need to oversee and provide care for my husband, who suddenly became seriously ill then.  As a result, I have told my clients who needed anything from me during that time to please find someone else to provide their needs.  At this point, I don't feel very sharp and don't remember what version numbers are current or how far out of date WikiTree's version is.

Over the four years I have been a member here, I have seen many things about the way things are done that I would never consider doing.  I have also made some suggestions in the past - even offered to donate my services to assist the very small and overextended technical staff.  It is not appropriate for me to judge their priority list of planned improvements is ill advised, since I am not privy to the parameters driving their decisions.  Any disagreement I may feel with either the things they do (and plan to do) or the ways in which they do them is inappropriate, since I am not seeing the whole picture.  I therefore try to keep my opinions to myself about any specific features, functions, styles, etc.
Much of what was being suggested is possible with the latest WikiMedia release but an upgrade for WT is likely quite involved.
A complete rewrite of the way sources are handled is more likely than an upgrade to the 10-year-old version of MediaWiki.
Gaile, I wish the admin staff would hear your pleas to assist them.  I have read your offer many times over the years and I cannot imagine why they don't take up the offer of such a tech-savvy person.

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