Why not allow WT profile editors to use any citation method they choose?

+1 vote

I ask because the Wikipedia Manual of Style/Layout says in Notes and References sub-section that "Editors may use any citation method they choose." Both WK and WT are inherently collaborative platforms, However, WK's approach to citation methods seems to be a no-sensense case of calling a spade a spade, 

in Policy and Style by D Amy G2G2 (3.0k points)
retagged by D Amy

I think WikiTree uses a relatively simple sourcing style because many, many of our users are not adept at coding. Also, we use a style in keeping with "Evidence Explained," a work by Elizabeth Shown Mills which is the preferred style of sourcing by most professional genealogists. If you want to see more information and some examples, I have a personal free space you can look at, just be sure to scroll down to the bottom, past all the stickers and stuff or use the menu at the top of the page:


D Amy,

What style are you using that someone is objecting to ?
Ah I see that someone moved your bibliography below the footnotes.  And gave them the See also header.

I understand why you don't want the see also header but bibliographies typically come after footnotes. That's more a style issue than a citation formatting issue.

That said, it is possible to do inline citations without having to have a bibliography. And it's possible to cite the same source multiples times without repeating the entire source.
The style guidelines help page explains why wikitree doesn't recommend everyone having their own style.
D Amy, without knowing what citation method specifically you are trying to use that someone is changing or objecting to, it's difficult to answer your question.

I've seen a range of source citation methods on Wikitree. Even within the PGM project, we have variation, leaving much to the preference of the profile managers.

So it's not clear to me exactly what you're objecting to or what someone else objected to your method of citing sources?
The Wikipedia citation method which allows editors to use any citation method they choose is a general as it needs ti be.

Who says I am objecting to anything?

I have asked a question which may or many not deserve an answer. The question attempts to probe differences between WK and WT for the same issue:: citation method implementation.
I have hidden my comment above starting with ''There is a big differencre between allowing WT profile editor . . .' because, on closer examination, this comment does not apply.
Brilliant! Thanks for sharing it!

4 Answers

+5 votes
Wikitree’s sourcing requirements are pretty straightforward, and easy to figure out. It’s true you can use whatever source you like, but some sources carry more weight than others. I’ve noticed this can sometimes create confusion among users who don’t agree on the value of one source or another.
by Alex Stronach G2G6 Pilot (326k points)
+3 votes
I personally do not like the inline method of citation, mostly because it means that sources are noted twice.

So for all my profiles from New Zealand, I used my own citations and as long as they show what record is being shown and a link to the database, noone has bothered me about them.

I also copy and paste the Family Search citations which I have no trouble doing, and again noone has bothered me about them.
by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (944k points)
My sources aren't noted twice, and I use a simple method of inline citation.

I agree Gillian. Yours on that profile are good. But there are many other profiles on wikitree where the sources are noted twice and it is frustrating to try and find the actual source.
The inline citations are easy to use. Just click the big C above the profile and add between the tags. Those double citations come from Gedcoms usually.

Nice profile Gillian!  My only suggestion would be to chop down those long URLs - it would make the bio look prettier:


Written as: [https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9xFcAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA657&lpg=PA657&dq=weaving+limerick&source=bl&ots=3e81VVI3cz&sig=MbmDX96Yx5oaHhmqEdEvOtz5M1Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj_2efEj_vSAhUkLcAKHS_MA38Q6AEISDAI#v=onepage&q=weaving%20limerick&f=false Google Books].

Would look like:

7.  p 657, THE SESSIONAL PAPERS OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS, IN THE SESSION 1840: Google Books (about the state of the weaving industry in Limerick causing people to emigrate.)

SJ, I love the [ ]. They really tidy things up, don’t they?

Yes they do yes

I always seem to be a day late and a dollar short or vice versa.

I just figured out how to really use the [ ] today and of course this evening here I sit reading about it.

Thanks for sharing!
Isn't how it always works in life?  LOL
+5 votes

My first thought is that it would be nice if we could just get more people to give citations in any format that would be great step.

As to different styles, I think it depends upon whether you are talking about the actual wording or the way the citations are presented.

a)The style or wording  of the citation itself. The guide refers to both Chicago style and Evidence  Explained which is an individuals interpretation on how to reference primary sources using Chicago. The problem for us outside of the US is that it is not a work easily available or I think used much.(Amazon UK does not stock it, you can get it from a Market place seller based in the US .There are no UK reviews. ) There are some online examples but few seem to cover the sources I am most likely to use.

I don't think there is a standard referencing style here. The University of Strathclyde produces a guide which is very helpful for the sources from the UK.   The only  journal that is vaguely genealogical (Family and Community history uses a 'British Chicago', other local history journals use MHRA.

Journala and genealogists  in other countrie may also have adopted styles more appropriate to their needs. (Perhaps why wikipedia accepts varied styles) At the moment though, I haven't seen anyone 'policing' the wording of a citation, except perhaps when it is too vague.

b) The  way the citations are presented. 

The big problem is that if there are lots of idiosyncratic methods it will make editing of open profiles difficult. 

One form of Chicago , and as far as l can see from the bits on the internet Evidence Explained uses numerical subscripts linked to foot or endnotes. ( i.e. what we place between <ref> </ref>.)I agree it takes time to learn and I hated it at first (was used to Word where you just hit insert footnote) but it works and I agree with the emphasis in using it (though the style guidelines also accept an astericked list)

In Chicago ( and EE?) and also several other referencing styles,  a  first  full citation is given  but  later citations are in shortened form. This is followed by a sources list or bibliography. 

Not many  people on wikitree  use inline citations followed by a source list. I think it is probably 'over the top'  to include a sources list in addition for many short profiles . It also produce a problem if the bio is reordered and the first citation becomes a subsequent one.

One member  (one who takes great care over his research and sourcing ) just uses  the shortened form in the footnotes with a full version in a source list. I think this  works  very well and is easy to follow but it now produces an 'error' (repeated citations or almost empty tag). 

We now seem to be being directed to the method  referred to as 'advanced sourcing' https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Help:Sources rather than accepting the simpler (in terms of formatting) style as recommended  earlier. Personally, I think this adds a barrier to those who find the 'coding' element difficult.I avoid working on these profiles. (I'll admit, I hate the way profiles 'read' using this method and feel it is quite disimilar to elsewhere)

by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (348k points)

On reflection, I belatedly offer this response to your thoughtful answer.

Re 'My first thought ... ' 

While allowing editors to use any citation method they choose, WP requires verifiabllity"All quotations, and any material whose verifiability has been challenged or is likely to be challenged, must include an inline citation that directly supports the material."  According to FamilySearch Wiki, Source Citation Formats"You will find many sources in the reference section of wiki pages are using The Chicago Manual of Style, but all are acceptable." Both WP & FS require that the same citation method be used throughout a given writeup. Also, many WP articles contain inline citations: which WP mandates for their high-end 'Featured', 'Good' and 'A-Class' articles.

Re 'a) The style or wording  of the citation'

No one citation style guide can be truly international WP's & FS's work-around for this problem is to allow their editors to use any citation method they [collectively] choose. By extension for WT application, it may be that WSSG, CMoS & EE are preferred, but the best solution for WT purposes would be to emulate WP & FS, including in terms of allowing use of U. of Strathclyde Referencing Guide as appropriate. 

Re 'b) The  way the citations are presented'

The form of Chicago with reftags that you are referencing to is termed the Notes and Bibliography Style which is consistent with WSSG preference for WT editors who have graduated to that level of proficiency beyond raw astericked bibliography list item source level. There are deeply entrenched inconsistencies in application of WSSG, WT Sources Help, CMoS & EE guides. There is contradiction in invoking 'coding' element difficulty while subjectively thinking source list practice as being 'over the top'.  The best way to minimize citation bloat is to use shortened footnotes with a fully-detailed source list along modified CMoS & EE lines. This shortened-footnote style is a modified version of the Author-Date / Harvard Style, which involves treating the parenthesized citation as a reftagged footnote. No 'error' is introduced in such citation method. WT Help:Sources should change the header 3 Advanced Sourcing to instead read 3 Repeated-Citation Sourcing.

July 12 edit, addition of: 'Also, many WP articles contain inline citations: which WP mandates for their high-end 'Featured', 'Good' and 'A-Class' articles.'

In postscript, in light of FamilySearch's flexible source citation format policy, it is especially interesting to find out that RootsMagic integrates by connecting and downloading directly from such online genealogy software related sites as Ancestry, MyHeritage and FamilySearch thus giving  "access to a ton of online records and databases." . This is noteworthy because RootsMagic, reputedly most popular with genealogists, incorporates impressive source-citation-documentation-related algorithms based on Evidence Explained including in terms of EE's hundreds of source templates and its GPS/BCG^-sanctioned analysis process mapping approach to defining quality along source-information-evidence lines. Given WT's emphasis on sourcing in general and EE sourcing style in particular, it would seem logical for WT to eventually incorporate sourcing algorithms customized along similar RootsMagic lines. Some members may be interested in the related webnar Sources, Citations and Documentation with RootsMagic.

^ GPS / BCG - Genealogical Proof Standard / Board for Certification of Genealogists 

Edit: BCG > GPS / BCG

+1 vote

(Let CMoS = Chicago Manual of Style), EE = Evidence Explained & WSSG = WT Sources Stryle Guide)

I would be remiss not to respond to  Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz 's  Sourcing Explanation attachment to her Space:Wikitree Templaates mentioned in her comment above.

This explanation strikes at the heart of key misunderstandings of the Sources Style Guide and the associated How to Add Sources to Profiles Help  details.

How to Add Sources help details says there are two ways to add sources:

  • List them at the bottom
  • Embed them as references (footnotes).

This last sentence should be corrected to read:

How to Add Sources help details says there are two ways to add sources and cite them: . . . Embed them as reference notes. That is, WT profiles have not footnotes.

Note that one of the 2 CMoS citation styles, the Notes-Bibliography (N-B) style, is consistent with WSSG guidelines.

Strictly-speaking, according to CMoS & EE, listing sources at the bottom always applies, such sources being shown in alphabetical order and without page(s). However, it is not uncommon to dispense with asterisked sources associated with full reference notes.

Embeding sources as reference notes can very generally be termed as sources only in first reference note instances.

According to EE & CMoS, it is incorrect to:

  • Show Judy's Sourcing Explanation numbered reference notes as References.
  • Show Judy's Sourcing Explanation asterisked reference list items as Sources
  • To omit showing 'Note' heading above the <references /> line.
  • To omit showing 'Bibliography' heading  (instead of current 'See also' requirement) .

'See also' is used as a legal citation signal. Wikipedia uses 'See also' heading to group articles tangentially associated any given other article. The correct header to use instead of 'See also' if the 'Further reading' heading grouging  sources tangential associated with cited references.

by D Amy G2G2 (3.0k points)
edited by D Amy
Using named refs, you can avoid editing problems by repeating the citation:

<ref name="source1">identical source citation</ref>

blah blah

<ref name="source1">identical source citation</ref>

blah blah

<ref name="source1">identical source citation</ref>

This works perfectly well and does what you want.  In the output, it collapses the footnotes into one, to avoid repetition.  But in edit mode, any of the refs can be deleted.

However, it generates a Suggestion, so it only lasts until they fix it.

But named refs don't meet the need.  If you want to do the equivalent of

1.  Smith, J.  ''Long Title: Very Long Subtitle'', Publisher, etc, p. 17

2.  ''Ibid.'', p. 39

3.  "Ibid.", p. 63

The nearest you can get using named refs is to bunch all the pages

<ref name=smith>Smith, J.  ''Long Title: Very Long Subtitle'', Publisher, etc, pp. 17, 39, 63</ref>

and leave it to the reader to figure out what's where.  But then later editing might need the list of page numbers to be adjusted, messy.

Why would you do:

<ref name="source1">full source citation</ref>
blah blah
<ref name="source1">full source citation</ref>
blah blah
<ref name="source1">full source citation</ref>

Instead of:

<ref name="source1">full source citation</ref>
blah blah
<ref name="source1"/>
blah blah
<ref name="source1"/>

Because somebody might delete the paragraph that has the footnote text embedded in it, not noticing that the footnote text needs to be kept.
I understand what RJ is suggesting. Using the "full" citation each time gives you the same result visually as doing the simplified subsequent entries while protecting against deletion of the master <ref>. It does get a Suggestion that it should be fixed but does work around a deficiency in how these are handled. Sources are a weak spot with WT.
Of course if you use the full citation every time, there is no reason to define them because you never use the defined terms.

I don't see deleting the definition as a big problem, however. After you delete the material, you will immediately be able to see in preview or public mode that the definition has been deleted and can go back and add it in someplace else. I guess fixing it would be somewhat more difficult if the person doing the editing misses it and someone later on sees the problem. The person finding the problem would have to know to look at the changes to find the missing definition.

With the method I use, where all the definitions are put at the bottom of the text and only the defined terms are used in the text, I have the opposite problem. If I delete the only usages of the definition, I will end up with an unused definition which I then need to remove. A lesser problem, though.
People often don't notice missing footnotes.  Sometimes whole swathes of footnotes are left invisible and nobody notices.

A least 'messy' way to go, including in terms of minimized edit mode text bloat, may be a modified Harvard referencing style (also known as the author-date style) whereby:

  • all the sources with full details are asterisked, shown in alphabetical order
  • all reference notes are numbered, shown in shortened format only.

Harvard Referencing Templates exist to allow systematic linking between reference note and respective source based on search of 'author' and 'date' (or proxies).

FamilySearch article Citations (Evidence Style) does indeed say:

  • "If you never develop a manuscript for publication, then you can safely ignore the "subsequent note" format."

The lesson I take from all this is that Evidence Explained should not be WSSG's preferred citation style.

There is not point in having  all reference notes as full citations, 

Much better to go to the modified Harvard Referencing style along the lines of my previous comment immediately above whereby all sources are asterisked & shown with full reference details and all reference notes are numbered & shown as shortened reference note format.

July 11 edit: 1st line should read: In comparing with 3rd / Kindle ed. of EE, FamilySearch article Citations (Evidence Style) appears to mistakenly say:

Evidence Explained is the standard for USA genealogical publication. I believe a majority of our members are US based. EE is what you would need to use to publish here and is the format required for anyone seeking certification. Why should WT abandon one of the standards and go with a methodology not in use in the field of genealogical research? Not sure but it also appears that EE is the preferred genealogical citation format for Canadians as well.

It isn't really worth arguing the point. You don't like EE and that is fine. Other forms are allowed and the main requirement is to provide sufficient information that someone else can repeat your results. Anything is better than:

  • ancestry tree
  • personal recollection (for an event in 1700)
  • a book I once read
You are jumping to conclusions. I merely stated the lesson I derived from this discussion. WT is an international organizattion catering to an interternational audience. I am saying that EE should not be WSSG's preferred citation style. WSSSG needs a major update so now is the time to flush out ideas so the best ones can be discerned. Cheers!

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