Can the instructions for Data Errors 603, 633 and 663 be updated please?

+6 votes
Recently a member was told that these errors should not just be fixed by removing the USA/United States, etc from the place name.   That a primary source for the place must be added before the change is made to validate the correctness of the place.

In looking at the instructions, there is no place that indicates that a source MUST be added in order to fix the error.   It makes it confusing if the instructions are not clear.
in Policy and Style by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (714k points)
edited by Robin Lee
I think the intention of those errors is to remove the 'USA' on the locations in birth, death, or marriage when the entered date is prior to July 1776.  The location is valid, but the USA or variations of it, are not valid.  The entire location should not be removed.   It is always nice to try to source each profile that is touched, but that is not a reqt during the Challenge, I don't think.  

Data Doctors should try to clear all errors seen, if possible, for the profile being worked on when the Suggestion Status page shows other errors.

I agree with Linda Peterson. I remove USA in said locations ,post reason for change USA to early in ??? and move on. If profile has other errors I can fix I will.smiley

4 Answers

+2 votes
Best answer
There are sometimes when a Source should be added to a profile when a Suggestion list is being worked on.  If the Find a Grave suggestions states that a location is missing on wiki tree or FAG doesn't match the wiki tree, those should have sources added since we know that there is usually no sources visible on the FAG pages.  

For errors such as these, removing the 'USA', or any variation of it, does not need a Source.  The person updating the profile is not 'changing' the intent of the profile or the location.  The USA is just a further definition, similar to having a county in a state.  Adding or changing the county with the location, or expanding the state abbreviation to the full state name is NOT changing the location, just clarifying it more, which doesn't need a source.
by Linda Peterson G2G6 Pilot (547k points)
selected by Robin Lee
+9 votes

Hi Robin,

When and where and by whom was this instruction given?

As you point out, this is not under the procedures for correcting these errors.  But common knowledge can be assumed if the source given has a historical error which states the person lived, died or was married in say Virginia before 1781, when the Articles of Confederation was ratified, the source is incorrect in that respect.  Correcting the Location error should not presuppose that an absolutely correct source be found.

If i had a nickle for every Find A Grave or even Death Certificate that had this or other subtle Location errors, I'd have a nice fat piggy bank.

Whoever gave this advice needs to be corrected, not the instructions.  They need to look at the  Wiki Help:Location Fields which would have precedence over the Error Code page.

by LJ Russell G2G6 Pilot (181k points)

The note came from a representative of the Data Doctors project today.  The only source on the profile was a reference to an tree.  Here is the note: 

When you have corrected DBE errors such as USA too early errors, you must enter a source for the changes.

 You recently changed Abcd-123 and there are no legitimate sources for the birth and death dates and locations.

 Would you please research and add those sources, please?

Ah, then that Data Doctor should read this about Help:Uncertain (Sources)

While a Tree from another another website is not considered the best of sources, if it is all there is, it is a Source. Or actually more of a hint than a real sources.

If you have access to t he Tree on Ancestry then you must have access to the that named person's records on Ancestry.  Therefore the proper sourcing is/are actual records from that name, not the Tree as a whole. I am not even going to get into the whole Ancestry paywall argument.

Put this way, using a Tree as a Source is as if someone asks you if you know what somebody's address is. You reply that you do and then hand them a phone book. Sources should be clear and make it easy for the viewer to verify on their own.  Not perform research.

So the use of the term 'must' is not entirely correct. Should would have been verbiage.

Should that Tree hint be replaced with actual Sources that reflect that person.  YES.  If not, the end of the world will not occur due to this.

Apologies beforehand if I'm misinterpreting some of this, but in my experience very few of the trees and any other online trees cite any sources which makes them an unreliable source in WikiTree terms.

As such they shouldn't be used on pre-1700 profiles and if someone is working on a pre-1700 profile that only has an Ancestry tree, don't they have an obligation to make sure they are researching and citing a source that is considered reliable before making any changes?
I agree regarding common knowledge in this case.  

It is not possible for any event to have occurred in a country before the country existed.

That's why I mentioned the Uncertain Help Page.

Actually, many of these Trees do have sources, if the url still works. That still doesn't mean those sources are correct. Nothing is better than a Source that is easy for the viewer to readily find and see for themselves.

And the standards for Pre-1700 are a bit higher than more recent Profiles as you rightfully point out.  Robin did not mention this being a Pre-1700 Profile so I just answered a general question with a general answer.  It seems every rule/guideline/standard on WIkiTree has one or another exception for some circumstances.  As the Pre-1700 Help page has:

'A family tree on Geni, Ancestry, MyHeritage, Family Search, or any other user-generated tree (like WikiTree itself) is not a sufficient source for creating a pre-1700 profile. They may be valuable resources and may help you find original, reliable sources, but they must never be the only source.'

The operative phrase here is 'must never'.  This implies it should not which to me means you really shouldn't, but.., Whereas a stronger term would be cannot which would forbid their use at all. 

As I said, I do not consider them sources but more so as hints. And I wholeheartedly agree they should not be used on Pre-1700 or Post-1700 Profiles as the only source for that matter.  Possibly it should be placed as reference, but never a Source. Still, they're a lot better than * Personal Recollection of So and So as I have actually seen on some older Pre-1700 Profiles or * From Family History and that was the only source.  At least the Ancestry, Family Search, etc. Tree gives a hint that a real source(s) may be out there. And if someone is working on a Pre-1770 Profile, they should correct that weak hint.

LJ, "Must never" means must never. It implies nothing because it states must. never. There is no wiggle room in must or in never. Must does not mean should.

I suggest then you look up the word "must" in the dictionary Stephanie.

    Be obliged to; should (expressing necessity)

    Be logically inferred (see infer sense 1) or supposed to

Must never means really shouldn't, not forbidden.  This is not my opinion, it is a statement of usage of the English language.  There is a great deal of 'wiggle room' in the usage of the word must.

LJ you didn't provide the definition for never

  1. At no time in the past or future, not ever
  2. 1Not at all

  1. Not ever, at no time
  2. not in any degree: not under any condition

So reading the phrase 'must never' together, I agree with Stephanie, there is no maybe about it.

If they had written but they are never to be the only source instead of but they must never be the only source I would wholeheartedly agree with you.  The best would be but they cannot be the only source.

However they used the modal auxiliary verb must before never which changes the connotation of the word never from absolute to implied.

  Definition of auxiliary verb


: a verb (such as have, be, may, do, shall, will, can, or must) that is used with another verb to show the verb's tense, to form a question, etc.

  There is a further set of auxiliary verbs known as modal verbs or modal auxiliary verbs. These combine with other verbs to express necessity, possibility, intention, or ability. The modal auxiliary verbs are must, shall, will, should, would, ought (to), can, could, may, and might. For example:

You must act promptly.

Can you speak Spanish?

would go if I could afford it.

He said he might reconsider his decision.

I ought to visit my family.

We should get to London before midday.

May I come in?

And as pointed out that must is akin to should in this tense, it reads as should never which is not an absolute that the use of these as a source is forbidden.  In short, the sentence is asking us not to do so and not actually declaring the use is totally forbidden.

Language is a powerful tool and as all tools, how it is used is extremely important.  This is why you will not see the term must used in legal documents where an absolute is involved.  If you ever have to sign a contract where the other party must do something, fire your attorney.

You just put the 10 Commandments Suggestions in a whole new light for me!

No Stephanie, rest assured they are still the 10 Commandments.  LOL

They do not begin with Thou must not....  They are Thou shalt not...  Shalt and or shall are explicit in that whatever Thou Shalt not do, Thou  better never ever do that or suffer the Wrath of God and or be forced to only watch Gilligan's Island for the rest of their life on any TV within their  view, which ever is the greater punishment.

This is why shall is used in legal documents where a party must perform a duty, function or obligation.  I used to write law for the State of Florida when I was in college and I will never forget the tongue lashing I got when I unknowingly used must in a bill and not shall. Somethings you just don't forget. ;)

When you say "There is a great deal of 'wiggle room' in the usage of the word must.", I assume you are commenting on the position in the USA. In England there is absolutely no wiggle room and the phrase "must not" is used extensively in UK legislation for something that is prohibited. For a fairly random example, see

Just one of the joys of writing unambiguous rules for an international site!

Yep, you're right there Paul.  Two countries separated by a common language as it's said.

That's why I don't like the way some of the rules, guideline, standards are written in a happy non confrontational manner.  Some are too non confrontational.   If something is to be forbidden, then forbid it outright and say it exactly. verboten!  And state the consequences when the rule is broken!  And too many times one of these interferes in how another is interpreted.

Of course if it was perfect, G2G would be pretty darn boring. ;)
+9 votes
Presumably the person who received that message won't be working on those lists any more.  Sourcing other people's unsourced profiles wasn't part of their plan for the day.

Some people seem to need reminding that this isn't a workplace or a school and we're all volunteers.  Having a badge doesn't mean they're in charge of anybody.

But I'm bemused about these "instructions", given that anybody can fix this sort of thing at any time, without being a data doctor and without being aware that a Suggestion is listed.

If it's the rule that you shouldn't remove USA without supplying a source for the event, that needs to be in the general help pages, not hidden away in the WikiTree+ help pages, which most of us will never read.
by Anonymous Horace G2G6 Pilot (568k points)
So True!
Ultimately, I think someone wants it to be the DDs responsibility to supply the sources during our weekly challenges. The responsibility belongs to all of us.
No, it belongs to none of us.  The word "responsibility" should never be mentioned.

We're all here on the basis that WikiTree might not seem like the most important or most fun thing to do tomorrow, or ever again, and if it doesn't, we might never come back.  Nobody is committed to anything.

For some members, today will be the last day.  They won't flounce out and close their accounts.  They'll just never quite get round to coming back to do the tedious chores they've been putting off.
+5 votes
There is a project recently started to update all of the DBE help pages. We ask for your patience as there are an awful lot of pages to look at and we are still in the initial stages of this project. Your comments will be looked at and taken into account as we update each error page. I am the DBE help pages editor, so comments can also be directed to me by sending a personal message. Please bear with us as this is a massive undertaking.I am trying to prioritize the order which pages are done by the comments received, both here on G2G and on the error pages.
by John Morgan G2G6 (7.3k points)
thanks John - this will be so helpful

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