Can we shorten the character limit on Error 864 "almost empty ref tags"? Please.

+20 votes
Currently I believe a ref tag must contain 20 Characters to avoid this error. I just spent time adding ...... to ref tags. "Anderson p. 2" should not generate this error.

If you're trying to avoid ibid and op cit, seven would be enough.

If you're trying to find the gedcom created S# which is usually what the error seems to catch, try looking for a different string like S-### under 12 characters (however many are in those gedcom source identifiers.)
in WikiTree Tech by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
edited by Anne B

3 Answers

+8 votes

The help page has been updated today 

This suggestion is aimed mainly at those with place holder reference tags with no reference in at all just dots or Insert Reference here

If there is something in between the reference they should not be removed. but potentially replaced by fuller improved links for the reference 

If no reference is available the use of the Needs categories can be used in the profile. for example this would avoid the empty almost empty ref tags 

Amendments to the DBE is consitently under consideration by the Data Doctor Team.  Thank you for asking the question

by Janet Wild G2G6 Pilot (202k points)
edited by Janet Wild

You might like to edit your post.  Your link to the DBE 864 Space page is incorrect and merely links back to this question.
I think the England groups have needs categories but most other areas don't have those.  

I am not sure using a category is going to avoid a Suggestion though.
Australia has [needs x] categories.
Thanks Ros Not sure why that happened must be because I added it as a link rather than just pasting it.

Thanks Linda for showing it also
Thank you for adding the link
You add the category and remove the tag if you cannot find the source to replace the empty tags

So you fix the suggestion but leave a link to advise which source is missing.  It place the profile on the to do list for the County team
Janet, I saw the edit and wonder if the terms of the filter could be changed to search for those specific instances since that's only what you want. The instruction on the description won't be seen by all, especially if we have already been fixing problems and don't need to review the help page for learning how to do it. This is a much more severe limit on what needs to be fixed than the suggestion list indicates.

Failing that, should we put False Suggestion on all the suggestions that are for other instances?
Most US states also have "Needs X" categories (where they were missing I've been very bad adding the sub, sub-categories).
+3 votes

The minimum characters to avoid the 864 suggestion is currently 9 letters/20 characters

Ibid should not be used in any WikiTree source as ibid refers to static text references and being a collaborative site, there is always a possibility that someone else connected to a profile could insert a reference between the source and original ibid misdirecting the ibid reference.

In place of ibid, a named reference is preferable which can be used in multiple positions within the biography.

FYI, videos are completed for all 11 of the Reference Tag Group suggestions and available in the References Tag Suggestions "Theatre".

by Sheryl Moore G2G6 Mach 9 (97.3k points)
+1 vote

The example that you use actually raises an interesting question. You say ""Anderson p. 2" should not generate this error." I assume this means that "Anderson" is a source that you use on a regular basis so you know exactly what it means. The fact you chose it as an example also suggests that it is a standard reference work used regularly by a group of researchers working on a particular place and/or time. Sadly I am not a member of that group, which means the place and time is probably not England post-1700. Without the name of the book the reference therefore means nothing to me.

I tried googling "Anderson genealogy reference book". Based on the first hit that came up, I would have to assume the reference is to page 2 of "The Anderson genealogy" by Andy Elmer Anderson. I suspect that is not actually what the reference is supposed to mean!

If the sources are intended only for experts in that area then "Anderson p. 2" is probably fine. If they are intended to be informative to anybody who looks at the profile then they would ideally include the name of the book, so "Anderson p. 2" would indeed be too short.

by Paul Masini G2G6 Pilot (191k points)
Paul, the example Anne used needs to be seen in context.  When she uses an author's last name followed by a page number, there will be a section below the footnotes that provides the full citation for the book or document.  That is done instead of repeating the full citation each time she refers to a different page in it to substantiate a different fact in the biography.  That is not at all a case of an incomplete citation, as you are suggesting.
Exactly what Gaile said. The full citation may be before or after the short citation, but if you look at the profile it would be clear to you.

Anderson, Robert Charles actually has several published works, so you would have to check to see which one I'm talking about. Of course I can't find an example, when I want one.
Anne, are those the ones that you were looking to paint different colors to match your decor a while back? <grin>

Your smiling but I actually did that. I was working on two "Bliss" profiles at the same time and painted one of them blue and one tan, (it matches my decor by the way) so I could find them quickly in the multiple open tabs.

Apologies that I misunderstood. I am not a Data Doctor, so the only time I have seen these Error 864's was during the C-A-T. In those cases the references I saw were mostly either just "FreeCen" or just "FreeBMD". It is obvious to a UK genealogist what those mean, although they are not much more useful than just saying "FamilySearch", but they may not mean much to a non-UK genealogist. In the absence of the additional information in the original post about the profiles containing an extra section with the full citation, I thought this might be a similar example.

just "FreeCen" or just "FreeBMD". It is obvious to a UK genealogist what those mean

by Paul Masini



Not a "UK" genealogist, but I don't understand why a link to those is not included.  It takes so little extra time to click the FreeBMD whatsit to get their permanent link for events.  For me that would be the equivalent of simply saying NSW BMD, or QLD BDM, and nothing else (I do not consider those alone as sources .. and neither do some others in the Aus Project). 

To be clear .. I do use those abbreviations (including the FreeCen and FreeBMD) but I always include a link, or the full details, so anyone else can follow how I got the information even if the link goes bye-bye.  While some of my sources may be repetitious, I don't think I could be said to use any that are "overly short".  cheeky

Best is the full citation--the link is nice, but an added perk.  If someone printed out the profile and handed it to me, I should be able to find the document offline.  

Websites come and go, but a national or state archive is generally stable.  I should be able to walk or write to a church with that information and have them find the record.

Sure the church or archive may burn, but there should be the alternative, esp. when the online linked info is just a transcription.

I'm not sure a link to free reg, other than the search page is possible. If the info in the bio has a citation freereg, then it should be possible for someone to find the entry. Nevertheless, I agree in this case that a fuller citation would be better;  indeed it is easy to c and p the 'transcript' (though from experience it then needs ':' at the start of each line to avoid gobbledegook.)

This is perhaps a case that  the algorithm could be more specific i.e <ref> freereg</ref> is insufficient asks for more detail.

At the moment though the  'crude' number of characters algorithm means biographies that use short citations, together with a bibliography are said to have 'errors'.

 More importantly ; I looked at the suggestions list of a member who I consider produces some the best sourced and referenced profiles on wikitree; clear and easy to follow. The member uses this format  and has 131 suggestions for this 'error'.

Edited to add more importantly.

I don't recall ever using FreeReg.

FreeBMD and FreeCen, yes .. both of which can be linked to (in addition to full information being given), so should never, if done "right", generate an error for being too short.

Experiment because realised that freereg changed format a couple of years ago.; my g grandfathet Thomas Linnett buried 1926 Clay Coton Northamptonshire.

A link works now.

  It didn't on the earlier website. It might not in the future so would hope a link alone wouldn't be sufficient. 

But we are veering from the topic.

In the academic works I see these days, citations typically follow the form you use, and when there are more than one work by the same author, the date of publication is used to distinguish them:  eg, Anderson (2009), p. 2

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