Promising to add sources - is this a good idea?

+12 votes

During the Source-a-Thon, I came across so many profiles which were only 'unsourced' because the creator had promised to add sources by such-and-such a date - and hadn't.

Is it really a good idea to allow people to create profiles purely on a promise?  I'm sure most of them fully intend to return - they just forget.  And then the profile ends up in a Source-a-Thon (if it's lucky).

What do you think? Should we beg Chris and the team to remove that particular option? 

(Edit: I've just found another one...*exasperated sigh*)

asked in The Tree House by Ros Haywood G2G6 Pilot (453k points)

This is one of three choices when adding a new profile:

source is required but you can select one of the following:

None of the three is acceptable in my view, but it does get something put on the profile. (BTW,I did this only for demonstration; I am adding a source to the profile.Well, more than one.)
I have experimented with this previously, and the options are actually graded by time, so that the Personal recollection isn't available further back.

I think there was a difference between the other two as well - but I don't remember. They all automatically get the Unsourced template.
I agree with Natalie. I don't think any of those options really "work". I think it was better before when beginning a profile the Unsourced tag was automatically there, unless manually removed when adding sources. I haven't done a lot of Data Doctoring recently, but there are sooooo many out there that I would find while running through simple errors that had no sources with one of the three options showing on the profile, and no unsourced tag. At least when the unsourced tag was automatically coming up then it populated on reports and is easy for the PM to find in their Watchlist when they really get the hang of WikiTree. I was one of those newbies running through adding profiles, not really understanding what kind of source was needed, because I'm like well it's on my Ancestry tree. It was several months before I really "got it" and went back and added real sources.
The "Jillaine will add sources by [date]" might work IF Jillaine were notified, say, on a monthly basis, that she had unsourced profiles... I wonder if Aleš could build something like that? In essence, it's an error report of a kind.

15 Answers

+11 votes
Best answer
I think it's generally useful for my workflow.  I might add all the children of a particular person from the information in my offline tree (which while well researched was made before I got into the habit of keeping track of sources), then add the sources as I have time to rediscover them over the next few days.  The "promise" shows to other people that even though the profile is currently unsourced, I am actively working on it.

Unfortunately there will be some who abuse the option or simply forget, but I don't think it warrants removing the option, especially since those who abuse it will find another way to leave it unsourced (i.e. "personal recollection").  I do agree with Lynda that a date-triggered reminder would be useful for these profiles.
answered by Brian Lamothe G2G6 (7.6k points)
selected by David Hughey
+9 votes


I agree!   While I was unable to participate in this Source-A-Thon crying   my routine work on profiles shows a real problem with sources,  not just the  "old profiles" either.    This makes it tricky with merges and creating new profiles without duplication.  I seem to be continually asking profile managers for their  "sources", after I have tried to find a source myself.   It's pretty rare for them to supply a source; in fact I don't remember it ever happening. 

answered by Peggy McReynolds G2G6 Mach 4 (45.9k points)
+6 votes
I don’t think the message and date serve any purpose. As far as I can see if that option is selected then the profile gets the Unsourced template anyway.  The date might be useful if it triggered a reminder, but that would probably be too much work to add.
answered by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (617k points)
+11 votes
I agree! People should never add profiles in such a hurry that they don't have time to add the sources at the same time. Rush genealogy is a disaster to happen.
answered by Juha Soini G2G6 Mach 5 (57.8k points)
I think it is also newbies that are not knowing about the sources. I worry that this will send newer members and profiles away from the tree, that we will never get back.
The question is if we want members who do not want to add sources, even after signing the honor code. There could be a gentle phrase asking the profile creator to "Please tell us where you got the information, in your own words or using a source citation." Of course linking to the help page on sources. Newbies would not be offended and others who don't care about citing sources may do their thing at another site.
+6 votes
Agree 100%. It's a nonsense that Wikitree actually suggests this as an alternative to a proper source. It's not even sloppy research. It's no research at all.
answered by David Cooper G2G6 (6.3k points)
+8 votes
I agree that it's frustrating to find so many profiles with this notation. But I don't see how removing that option will solve anything. It's easy enough to add a "citation" when creating a profile that says "whatever". There's no way at the time of creation [or any other time] to enforce a real citation.

In my opinion, if that option automatically adds the "Unsourced" template [does it -- if so, I didn't know that!], then it does more good than harm.  I agree with Lynda, it would be great if the creation of the notation triggered an email reminder, perhaps with a link to instructions for sourcing, but that might be too taxing on the WikiTree mail server!
answered by Joyce Rivette G2G6 Mach 2 (25k points)
Yes, I think all three options leave the Unsourced templat on the profile.
+8 votes
Certainly a profile without sources is incomplete. However, the alternative to allowing unsourced entries is to advise users that Wikitree is NOT a place to 'DO' genealogy and ask that they work elsewhere and only supply us with their finished product.
answered by Bill McCormick G2G6 Mach 3 (30.1k points)
edited by Bill McCormick
Very well said.
I don't know about you, but I always have a source to cite when I create a profile. I can't just draw parents, siblings or children out of a hat just to fill empty slots. The information must come from some place, and that someplace is the source. If it is a good source or a family tree is up to the genealogist starting the profile.
+10 votes
At first, I was very leery of these options, but I now think they should remain.

Some people are going to create unsourced profiles no matter what we do. At least with these options, we are more likely to be able to spot them, as they all lead to creation of the "Unsourced" template. Previously, a far greater number of WikiTree profiles were unsourced and "hidden".
answered by Dave Rutherford G2G6 Mach 2 (29.8k points)
+6 votes
I've seen occasional G2G posts from people complaining that someone went in and added to a profile they'd just created without giving them time to finish gathering sources and fixing up the profile themselves. If I find that "Sources will be added by DATE" note on the profile and the date has passed (especially if it's been more than a month), I figure it's fair game for me to add any good sources I can find, and the PM doesn't have standing to complain.

I wonder if it'd be feasible to have an error created for this, or to send an automated email saying "You haven't yet added sources to this profile" after a month or so.
answered by Sharon Casteel G2G6 Mach 8 (84.9k points)
Good point about not going in too early while the manager is still adding to the profile.
I second Sharon's recommendation for an error/notification (which I suggested elsewhere in this thread before reading Sharon's idea... great minds...)
+7 votes

Here's what happens if you don't allow this option:


That's right, just an asterisk and nothing else. That leaves a profile with no sources and no unsourced template. I much prefer the way it is now so that profiles have a better chance of getting sourced eventually by someone.

answered by Deb Durham G2G6 Pilot (551k points)

They have at least started the citation. wink I find it easy to continue adding my source to such a profile.

Except you have to find it first and that little asterisk prevents the unsourced template from being applied automatically.
"Sources" like whatevername.ged do also prevent automatic adding of the template. We just have to find them manually and source them or add the template.
I think you're missing the point. The point is that finding these profiles is easier with the current options in place which places the template automatically at the time of profile creation. Removing this option isn't going to make people more inclined to add sources when they create the profile it will just make it harder to find unsourced profiles in the future.
+5 votes
I agree-if I ever used the 'sources to be added' option, it's inevitable that I'd forget, probably often.  I've been only adding profiles that I'm confident of the sourcing.
answered by K. Anonymous G2G6 Mach 2 (23k points)
+5 votes
The danger to removing these options (all three of which, I understand, add "Unsourced" template) is that people will enter something equally useless like "family tree" or "" and the Unsourced template WON'T be added. At least this way, they're flagged as Unsourced.
answered by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (641k points)
Sadly, they do it anyway. I often find those kind of "sources".
+2 votes
I find it frustrating too, I only add a person if I have a source, since I got better at using the system and finding everything.

I fear though, if that is taken out, will it mean that some who are newer will never add profiles? Will it keep us from some progress on getting profiles on the tree because the newbies will give up on wikitree and never come back?
answered by Lisa Murphy G2G6 Mach 2 (27.8k points)
+2 votes
I agree that these options would usually end up with unsourced forgotten profiles,  They definitely wouldn't work for me... I'm old and forgetful.  My current "project" is to add well written profiles for the children and siblings of my direct line.  They are as complete as I can make them at this time with research notes etc.  The spouse of the sibling or child however just gets added if I have a good source.  I sometimes get a complete profile for them also.  If names come up in research of a family member I mention it in that profile but do not make a profile for people I can't document.  This seems to keep me on track as I work my way up the tree.  If I run out of things to work on (unlikely) or come across information that will help, I go back and add them later.
answered by Cherry Duve G2G6 Mach 1 (15.3k points)
+1 vote

This was one of the reasons behind 

[[Category:Needs Profiles Created]]

This allows you to mark a profile that has say a census with wife and family without tossing crappy unsourced profiles out there just to fill in the holes. I would rather someone go back and look then carefully take their time getting the proper citation for each person added to the profile as it is being created while checking for pre-existing profiles of that person.

Honestly, many times I've just ignored relevant info in the past rather than making terrible profiles because I was working on something else.Great granpa had a second wife. Awesome. She had a mother and father. I don't care at that point. Skip? Now I can tag the wife who has info on parents and move on.

As far as promising to add sources later? LOL So funny unless someone is ACTIVELY working that section of the tree. Then I'd add this.

<div style="padding-bottom:5px;text-align:center;border-bottom:2px solid red;"><span style="font-size:250%;color:red;">UNDER CONSTRUCTION </span><br />Do not attempt to edit until after mm/dd/yyyy.<br /><br />~~~~</div>

answered by Steven Tibbetts G2G6 Pilot (161k points)

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