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Source help pages
We need to clarify the rules for source pages. As part of this we'll need to better define what constitutes a source, whether separate pages should be made for reprints, etc. Thes are difficult decisions, but now seems like a good time to discuss them. Let's continue the way we have been, starting the discussions at the watercooler and move them onto their own pages if they start taking on a life of their own (like we've done in the past). Who's up for this?
Geographic Source Page Improvements
I've begun an article, Source Page Review Guide, on some of the tasks I do when reviewing a source page; I think along with clarifying the rules we also need to think about and agree upon a scope of work. Not to say that all of these tasks have to be done at the same time by the same person - just to give some guidance and to have some consistency on what kinds of improvements we're hoping to see for those of us who are "curating."
Hopefully this will be a start on a "how to" guide as well.
Brenda is curating the sources for Maine. I've reviewed titles beginning with A-L and S-Z so far. I'd suggest that someone else starting a geographically-based source review project might want to review titles by subject (i.e. do all the vital records at once...) unless you'd get bored doing that, as each "subject" tends to have its own specialized/idiosyncratic issues. Now that I've gotten so far along in the alphabet, I'll probably have to start over again once I'm done, because I've learned so much since I first started the project and now do (I think) a much better job considering the issues and making the improvements that I'd like to see. --Brenda (kennebec1) 18:42, 10 February 2011 (EST)
Sandralpond is begining to search old sources in West Virginia and Pre-Civil War Virginia. I Will review titles, A-Z and may use a geographically-based source review later to review titles by subject. --Sandralpond (Sandralpond)
How do we want to let people navigate/browse sources? There are two possible approaches:
(1) We use search: We automatically add a box to the bottom of each place page (and source page) with links to search results for different source subjects for that place (or the places covered by the source). For example, look at the bottom of Place:Friesland, Netherlands.
(2) We use categories: Each place page would have a category for that place. For example, Place:Friesland, Netherlands is in the Category:Friesland, Netherlands category. That category would contains Category:Sources of Friesland, Netherlands as a sub-category. The Category:Sources of Friesland, Netherlands would contain sub-categories for sources of each subject in Friesland. Similarly, a church records source in Friesland would be in the Category:Church records of Friesland, Netherlands. Users would click on the category/super-category/sub-category links to navigate sources.
We could provide both methods for navigation, but it seems a bit redundant.
The answer to this question might also influence the answer to "what do we do about surname-in-place" categories. Maybe instead of automatically-generated surname-in-place categories, we should provide search-based links at the bottom of person and family pages to return search results for the person's surname and place.
Going with option (1) -- not having automatically-generated categories -- would allow any user-entered categories to stand out more.--Dallan 21:25, 14 February 2011 (EST)
- We use both approaches and more... Direct search is one, navigational templates (like on the bottom of Friesland is another, there are also lists (like List of cities, towns, and villages in Friesland, Netherlands) and categories. All have their pros and cons - all help the user find and organize what they need.
- (1) Search Perhaps begin with adding the template to place pages. Wouldn't a source page template be a bit more complicated, since you'd have to program it to look for the Places covered information?
- (2) Let's look at Newspapers, click on that and you see Newspapers in the United States, then you can click on Newspapers in Alabama, United States - from there you see (or would see) the various newspapers for Alabama. Same would hold true for all of the Subjects listed on a source page (ie cemetery, census, church, etc). You can approach this from the Sources direction, or from Places instead... United States>Alabama, United States>Sources in Alabama, United States>Newspapers in Alabama, United States --Jennifer (JBS66) 07:54, 15 February 2011 (EST)
- Let's move this to the talk page.--Dallan 17:19, 16 February 2011 (EST)
If we go down the category route for navigation, what categories should be automatically-generated for sources?
Here's a possible proposal:
For each place covered (if there are no surnames listed):
- Sources of place if no subject is listed -- e.g., "Sources of Friesland, Netherlands"
- Subject of place if a subject is listed -- e.g., "Church Records of Friesland, Netherlands" -- would be a subcategory of "Sources of Friesland, Netherlands"
For each surname (if there are no places listed):
- Surname sources -- e.g., "Smith sources" -- would be a subcategory of "Smith surname"
For each surname (if both surnames and places are listed):
- Sources for Surname in Place -- e.g., "Sources for Smith in Friesland, Netherlands" -- would be a subcategory of "Smith sources by place" (which would be a subcategory of "Smith sources"), and also a subcategory of "Sources by surname for Friesland, Netherlands" (which would be a subcategory of "Sources of Friesland Netherlands")
--Dallan 21:25, 14 February 2011 (EST)
- I put some ideas into a visual format. It's a first draft, but maybe it will help fine-tune this structure. --Jennifer (JBS66) 14:00, 15 February 2011 (EST)
- Wow, dallan, I followed the first few paragraphs, but when you got to source by surname *and* place, it got a little scary! But I see what you are saying, I think. Are you suggesting, for the sake of sanity, that we limit the source subcategory for "surname in place" categories to only "Sources for Smith in Friesland, Netherlands," not "Church records for Smith in Friesland, Netherlands?"
- Can we back up a step to your original question of categories vs search? Is this an either/or question? or do categories and search have different, albeit overlapping, functions?
- Intuitively, I think users look for search functionality. Search functionality allows customization and individualization of search - I can look for place, surname and/or a keyword, if I want. But the results are only as good as my query, ultimately. If I enter the word Revolution and the key source I want has the word "Revolutionary" and not Revolution, I won't get it in my results unless I add a wild card, as far as I can tell.
- Categories are indexing aids as much as finding aids. Once I've found a source that I know is useful (say at my local library), I can use the categories on the catalog record for other areas to look. So, once I figure out that "Vital Records in Sagadahoc, Maine, United States" is the category where the items I need are, I can look at the whole category results for more options.
- So, does that make a difference in the answer for how to set it up for users? I like categories in theory, but in reality I rarely use them for looking up something, because I know they are not used consistently or comprehensively. One of the reasons I started the source review project for Maine was to add categories, so that I could find "all the Civil War histories for Maine" if I wanted to.
- But I do use search, all the time. I guess I think of categories as useful for cataloging and for comprehensive (almost overwhelmingly so) results. I use search to hone in on focused results.
- To put it another way, I don't think the lack of comprehensive catagorization in WeRelate sources has been a cause of frustration or inability to find what you're looking for, at least not until someone becomes a more sophisticated user who is working on more than just their own genealogy. But requests for improvements/voices of frustration in the search function has been ongoing, it seems to me.
- We should catalog [categorize] because that's a "library" thing to do - to be able to look at and analyze our collection of sources as a whole. But we should enhance our search function - including by using categories and/or subjects and/or any other fields - because that's what users do every day. --Brenda (kennebec1) 15:14, 15 February 2011 (EST)
- Let's move this to the talk page as well.--Dallan 17:19, 16 February 2011 (EST)