Help:Sources FAQ

Search WikiTree's help pages:

Categories: WikiTree Help | Sources Help

Language: en | de | fr | nl

Here are questions and answers regarding WikiTree's policies on sources.


What is a source?

On WikiTree we use a very simple definition: a source is the identification of where you obtained information.

Are sources required on WikiTree?

Yes, you must include the source for any information you add to WikiTree.

We have a stricter requirement for creating and editing profiles of people born before 1700. For those, members collaborate in projects to determine which sources are reliable for the time period and location and only use agreed-upon reliable sources.

Why are unreliable sources allowed for post-1700 profiles?

Our requirement for modern profiles is only that you say where your information comes from. We do not attempt to enforce any standard of reliability for sources or any method for securing pre-approval except on pre-1700 profiles.

This does not mean that WikiTree members do not need to evaluate the reliability of sources. Evaluating sources and the evidence they contain is part of the science of genealogy. As genealogists, we all need to do it. And as collaborative genealogists, we need to tell each other our sources so that we can work together to evaluate their relative reliability. For help evaluating the reliability of sources, see Help:Reliable Sources or ask in G2G.

We have a low bar for creating modern profiles because we want to encourage all our cousins to share their family history information. As long as they also share where their information came from, we have a starting point for collaboration and we can work together to improve our shared tree.

Our cousins may not be wiki genealogists, or genealogists at all. If they go on to become wiki genealogists, they will learn about the importance of reliable sources and careful source citations through participation.

For more on why we allow uncertain information from a wide range of sources on WikiTree, see Help:Uncertain.

Should you remove unreliable sources from existing profiles?

You should only remove a source citation if you are removing the information for which it is the source, or replacing it with a citation for a more reliable source for the same information.

We want to know where information came from.

This is true even on pre-1700 profiles. Although we require that only "reliable sources" be used on these profiles, when an unreliable source has been used, removing the source citation without removing the information itself could lead viewing users to think that the information is more reliable than it is.

When should the Unsourced Research Note Box be used?

We use the {{Unsourced}} Research Note Box to identify profiles with no clear identification of where any information on the profile came from.

It should be used on any profile with no source citations, or no source citations that clearly identify the source.

Here are examples of source citations that don't meet the minimum specificity needed to identify a particular source:

  • "Find-A-Grave"
  • "FamilySearch"
  • "Personal records"
  • "Family Bible"

Here are examples of source citations that would be sufficiently specific:

  • "Find-A-Grave Memorial #1234"
  • "FamilySearch profile ABCD-123"
  • "Unsourced family tree handed down to X"
  • "Family Bible owned by X currently in the possession of Y"

These are not intended as examples of reliable sources or perfect source citations. If one of these were the only source for a profile we would want to do more research. However, they are sufficiently specific for removal of the Unsourced Research Note Box.

Our purpose for the Research Note Box is very limited. We want all profiles to identify at least one source so that we have a starting point for collaboration.

Who can add the Unsourced Research Note Box to a profile?

Any member can add the {{Unsourced}} Research Note Box to any profile that does not have a single sufficiently specific source citation as described above. However, please be sensitive and consider first asking the person who created the profile to clarify their source. It would be even better to help improve the profile through research. See Help:Communication_Before_Editing for tips.

A member who is participating in the research and editing of a profile can use the Research Note Box more freely. And it can be used on pre-1700 profiles at the discretion of the projects that cover them. Some may choose to use the box on profiles that only cite derivative, second-hand, or otherwise unreliable sources. Narrower maintenance categories are generally preferable.

Is there a limit to how many profiles a member can create using unreliable sources?

See Help:Research Before Editing.

If you see a member making mistakes, assume that they have good intentions and want to improve our shared tree as much as you do. Consider helping them search for better sources and help improve their source citations. See Help:Problems with Members if you're not sure how to proceed.

This page was last modified 17:16, 27 September 2023. This page has been accessed 15,210 times.