Help:Alternative Sourcing Methods

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Categories: Sources | Styles and Standards

See the discussion in G2G here. -- Whitten-1 11:18, 16 February 2016 (EST)


This page is for advanced members. For an introduction to sourcing on WikiTree, see Sources.

Recommended Sourcing Methods

Sources are required on WikiTree. Every new contributor, right from their first contribution, should be including their sources.

Since sourcing is so important we aim to make it as easy as possible for new users, while still allowing for some added complexity for advanced WikiTreers.

The simplest way to do sources is just by listing them. This should be done in a bulleted list (with asterisks) in the == Sources == section, but adding a source anywhere is better than nothing.

If a member continues to contribute, especially on collaborative profiles, they will need to understand references/footnotes. These are done inline with <ref>...</ref>.

Advanced members can also use the methods described on the Sources page for repeated usage of the same citation on the same profile (named references) or for repeated usage of the same source on multiple profiles (free-space profiles for sources).

Sourcing in GEDCOM-Created Profiles

Unfortunately, sources in a GEDCOM-created profile do not appear in one of the recommended ways.

In the text you may see something like this:

Born in 1880.<ref>Source: [[#S1]]. Page 53.</ref>

And then in the Sources section:

* Source: <span id='S1'>S1</span> The Schmoe Book.

This creates an inline reference with an "internal link" (done with the # sign) to an "anchor" lower down on the page (done with the ID in the span tags).

The codes created for the internal links — S1 in this example — usually only have meaning inside the user's GEDCOM. It would be better not to use them, but to do otherwise would make importing sources from GEDCOMs difficult.

Overall, this sourcing style is not ideal and is not generally recommended for manually-created sources. It is supported because it has to be. We may be able to find a way to fix this in the future.

Other Methods

Some advanced members want to use other sourcing methods. There are many possibilities, some of which offer significant advantages over the methods described above and have been considered as replacements for the current recommendations.

However, despite their advantages, these alternative methods are not recommended. And as with all style rules, if they are not recommended, they should not be used especially on Open profile. (There is some allowance for what happens on private profiles and free-space profiles. See the Style FAQ).

Alternative methods add confusion. Even if a new alternative has advantages, these advantages would need to be very significant in order to justify changing our recommendations. We couldn't stop supporting the old recommendations. Therefore, a new set of recommendations introduces more than its own complexity. Members would have to understand both systems, and any future technical improvements would have to account for both.

Here are some alternative methods that are not recommended:

  • Any citation style other than the Evidence Explained standards, such as MLA, APA, Columbia, etc.
  • Category:Source Templates for formatting. Source templates for using the same source multiple times on different profiles — what might be called "source shortcut templates" — are not recommended. See Category:Source Templates for more explanation.
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