A point I feel needs to be made

+20 votes
This is an observation as a Ranger, Data Doctor, Profile Improvement, and a WikiTreer, Please, please, please put some sources on your profile even if it is just one. The profile I mention, Elizabeth Ann (Walters) Spooner had an unmerged match to another lady that was married to the same name. The dates on Elizabeth were the same as on Catherine (Gillespie) Spooner but neither profile had any sources. (Please don't comment on how I added the sources to these profiles because this comment has nothing to do with that.) It did take me most of the day and I'm not related to any of them, but I found that the husband (Hiram Spooner) was correct on Catherine's but Elizabeth was married to Niram Spooner from a totally different Spooner family. I'm seeing many profiles lately that are unsourced but not marked as such, profiles are made hurried with only FAG as a source (to get high contributions I assume). I am trying my best to fix some errors in profiles that I come across but I'm only one person. I know there are others that feel the same frustration. I know that I'm living in a dream world if everyone would do a perfect profile every time they add one and I'm not expecting that. I do feel if we keep going like it has been lately, our tree is going to be a complete mess that maybe won't be able to be fixed in 20 years. Please be courteous, kind, and generous when creating a new profile and add a couple of sources to confirm the details you have entered.

Thank you for reading.

WikiTree profile: Elizabeth Spooner
in Policy and Style by Sherry Wells G2G6 Mach 1 (16.7k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
Thanks, Sherry!

I think it would be a huge improvement if people would just put in their unsourced profiles a country and maybe one date estimated within a decade.  The profile-creation page requires one source (although it provides an easy out).  I think it should also require one location and one date.  Those would be much more useful than "I was there 200 years ago when it happened."
I totally agree Herbert!! I assume that because they created it, they would have known something about the person besides their name. Even if they aren't sure what to put for dates, etc. then a comment in the biography like "This is my great aunt's cousin's nephew's child that I played with at our family cabin" then atleast we would have a better chance of finding sources.
I'm gonna put on my flameproof suit and blame the games for one-source profiles.  Sign up for the challenge-a-thon of the week, and put one source on as many profiles as you can.  That turns thousands of Unsourced profiles (tagged as such) into one-source profiles that still need a lot of work but no longer exist on any list or report.  And so you can't chase a cat up the WikiTree without finding dozens of them.
I totally agree!! I've tried to be part of those challenges but can not get the numbers needed to be in the top 1,000. I tend to find many sources and add them instead. It's just what I do and wish others would do. Maybe it should be a two source challenge???
Why not score the number of sources added, rather than the number of profiles one source was added to?  Wild guess - that's too hard to count, because sources are part of the bio text and not indexed individually in the database.
Herbert, if people used in-line ref tags to link to their sources, those could be counted. I'm trusting people not to cheat and stuff a profile full of meaningless refs.

If people could at least put some kind of context like place and date, or this is intended to be the mother of X, then at least we would know where to approach the profile from. I have found two people with a relatively uncommon name born within months and miles of each other before now. When I put my one on wikitree I think I'll add the other (with sources!) and link them to each other.

Yes.  You could count <ref> tags and asterisks in the bio to estimate the number of sources.  And yes, a little context is what we want, not perfection. As Sherry pointed out, the profile creator probably knows the context or at least has an idea of it.

6 Answers

+8 votes
Hear! Hear! Just a location guess or year would be so helpful. Sometimes it is not possible because we still have a lot of profiles from 2010 and 2014 created by inactive members. I try to work on those a lot. But then I can't work on what I am really interested in.
by Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz G2G6 Pilot (482k points)
Very true Lucy!! I barely have time to do my own tree which is much more interesting to me! Sometimes I just make time for mine.
+5 votes
The goal of the Source-A-Thon is not to have a completely sourced profile with a full biography and a photo attached with relevant categories used. The goal is to take profiles with NOTHING and at least find a starting point that they actually exist. This will also cut down on different people with the same name getting merged together because neither is sourced.

Every Competition is not at the level of the Bio Builders which tries to leave complete profiles behind. The Clean-A-Thon fixes suggestions and if they are really nice, they add unsourced to those that need it.

I'd eventually like to see different groups working different areas to move profiles step by step toward being complete. Profile creators, data doctors, sourcerers, bio builders stepping them up working together.
by Steven Tibbetts G2G6 Pilot (279k points)
I understand that Steven but I've also come across some that have one source but upon me adding more sources, I find that source was not even for that person.
Isn't that what the Profile Improvement Project is all about?
I'm involved in the PIP, that's why I'm adding more sources and come across the problem.
+5 votes
I was just thinking the same thing today - as I create new Smith profiles, there are about 25 plus current profiles to check against for possible matches and it is so time-consuming when many existing profiles do not have any places or sources.

I spent most of today fixing and sourcing a completely unrelated "branch" and it would have been so much easier if at least a Country and county had been added!

Even more frustrating to find two obvious duplicate families that had been marked as "rejected matches" probably someone wanted to keep control of "their" family.

Some of us (including myself!) dream of Wiki-tree utopia - but it will never happen because for every profile we fix and source, another 10 or more are created that need fixing & sourcing...but we can dream.
by Michelle Wilkes G2G6 Pilot (121k points)
Thanks Michelle. I'm glad I'm not the only one! What a dream world that would be hey? lol
+3 votes
I've been doing the marriage data doctor challenge this week and where there are sources missing or I couldn't find any, I've added the maintenance categories like, needs Birth Record, marriage record etc. Because I'm working on Australian profiles I try and add the state to the Unsourced and also add the estimated date template where relevant. I hope this is helpful for profile improvers? Do they work with these categories?

It takes me longer to finish the profile than just fix the error but i feel I've contributed more. I just use the weekly challenge subject as a focus, I reckon many of the profiles with data errors also need sources and this seems to be the reality.
by Margaret Haining G2G6 Mach 4 (46.3k points)
Thanks Margaret. I have never worked with categories so I'm not sure if there are people that just do that. I tend to find enough to fix just from my daily email. I do add "Needs LNAB" and one day I hope to get to them because they take much longer to find the actual LNAB but atleast they are all in one place.
+8 votes

I'm seeing many profiles lately that are unsourced but not marked as such, profiles are made hurried with only FAG as a source (to get high contributions I assume).

First, I wouldn't lump the use of FindAGrave as a source in with leaving a profile unsourced. FindAGrave is often a very good and reasonable source for some details and the WikiTree community needs to quit talking about it in a disrespectful way. The presumptive position where people disparage it is not helpful. And one source is better than zero. And FindAGrave is 1 source (which may then lead to others!). 

Second, point 3 in the Honour Code is about assuming the best of others. That's the WikiTree ethic. So, suggesting or assuming that a profile is "made hurried" or that people are acting a certain way "to get high contributions I assume" is not assuming the best of others. The community should have a thorough look at some point about how we incentivize good work and how some incentives might backfire, but let's hold off  for another post. Your statements could also be viewed as disparaging the profile creator's contributions. So let's turn this around:

Please be courteous, kind, and generous when creating a new profile evaluating a profile made by someone else.

Third, I would remind you that the goal isn't perfection and, frankly, not everyone has equal time to invest in WikiTree. We do this out of personal interest, and everyone is going to do it differently. If you feel it's taking over your life, even for a day -

"It did take me most of the day and I'm not related to any of them [...]  I am trying my best to fix some errors in profiles that I come across but I'm only one person. I know there are others that feel the same frustration."

- take a break and go for a walk. Come back if and when you feel like it. I really want you to have fun and feel joy when doing this. WikiTree shouldn't be drudgery, friend. 

our tree is going to be a complete mess that maybe won't be able to be fixed in 20 years.

In my view, WikiTree is this huge family tapestry of knowledge, being worked on by many hands, both old and new. Naturally it is never complete. And there will always be loose threads and a stitch or two that needs undoing! The core of WikiTree isn't getting worse, rather there's always more work to do. WikiTree will hit 19 million profiles in the next ~10 days! That's only a drop in the bucket. It never will be perfect either. 

Unrelated to your post, but relevant to the overall topic: I'm finding WikiTree's community current really strange lately. There is this intense acknowledgement of the need for sourced profiles. But the minute that one suggests a different way to do that sourcing with a novel method or style (which might work for someone else or for some niche purpose) there's a lot of derision and a pile-on of downvotes. If we want people to participate in sourcing,  we shouldn't press for conformity so as to ostracize those who do things differently, nor should we denigrate imperfect sources (Debate topic: Oral Histories vs FindAGrave. Go!), but rather make it easier for new people and those who might work differently or are from different cultures to participate.

Finally, thank you for seeking to improve WikiTree. :)

by anonymous G2G6 Pilot (127k points)

You have the wrong impression of my comment, I'm not complaining at all about working on WikiTree as I really enjoy working on any profiles. I'm not at all angry about any of my comments, I'm just speaking from experience. I agree that Find A Grave is an awesome starting point. I'm commenting about the people that create a profile from Find A Grave and don't appear to be related to the profile at all so they are making the profile completely from the FAG.

+2 votes
I concur with JN and Steven here. I personally started sourcing (other profiles than the ones of my own family) during the Source-A-Thon. I even went into profiles of a country, where the sources were completely  unknown to me. So when I had a Canadian profile which had a date of death and death location stated, but was called "unsourced", and I "only" found a FAG profile, BUT this profile corrobated exactly the date and location of death given in the WT-profile, I used that as source. When I didn't find anything else, I added a /FAG to the comment "Added sourced DOD" just to show I only found FAG. And even though it is by some considered a "weak source", imo it IS a source. It is a source that needs more research... no, I'm wrong! It is a PROFILE of a person that needs more research, but especially when it's about going into Canadian sources pre 1850, I (still) don't know where to turn to, which is why I leave those profiles then alone and leave them to others who have more expertise in that. But with that FAG profile it is proven that the person I just sourced existed. And THIS is the main intention of sourcing. If you want to build the biography of the person or improve the profile, here you go! Let's agree that I do the foundational work to prove the person existed and you build his or her biography.
by Jelena Eckstädt G2G6 Pilot (575k points)
That is awesome Jelena. I'm not complaining about that at all as FAG is a good starting point and sometimes the only source. Good job on working out of your comfort zone.
Technically FindAGrave is a profile memorial, not a source. That is why it isn't really called a "good source". It may however contain sources and also give valuable information.

For those of you ready to fight to the death to defend FindAGrave, If I made a profile on GENI I would not use a WikiTree profile as a "source" either. Because for the most part like FindAGrave, a WikiTree profile is NOT a source.

The same holds true for the infamous "Ancestry Family Tree" being used as a source. Again, it may HAVE sources and provide info but is not in and of itself a source. That is why sources that are just FAG or family trees are still considered unsourced.

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