WeRelate:Suggestions/Ability to copy/paste Source Citation during edits

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In many instances, when locating or finding a particular Source, I've found that one one source may affect or be included as a citation for events or facts for multiple people (such as a census record for a complete family that you want to add as a source citation for each person's page). It would be helpful and extremely time-saving to be able to enter the source citation once, then be able to copy the entire citation with one click, and be able to paste it to another person's page without having to enter all the information completely again or without having to open two windows and copy and paste each field in the source citation - which I now do over and over again. (Sorry, I regret not having brought up this programming suggestion prior to the survey.) --BobC 18:05, 8 May 2015 (UTC)

While I wish this feature many times, I have some reservations, mostly that the source citations could end up being huge so they may be applied to many pages to avoid typing, instead of edited for maximum appropriateness to a single page, much the way some posters cut and past listings of two or three generations verbatim to the pages of all people concerned. I always dislike when a person appears to be described as interesting because they are related to somebody, instead of in their own right. --Jrich 18:29, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
Since you addressed multiple issues, I'm going to split them up and respond to each separately.
Perhaps you misunderstood my intent. I didn't mean copying the original source and pasting it repeatedly, but being able to copy the Source Citation created for the first person it applies to and then paste it as source citations to the other person pages it applies. --BobC 21:19, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
I also am concerned that cut and paste creates something of a maintenance headache with duplicate copies. If the citation needs correction or augmentation, or a note is added to one to explain an error, the others are likely to be missed. Would prefer to see something using transclusion. Perhaps a source type of "transcript" that generates an appropriate source reference and for the body of the citation transcludes a page from the Transcript space, or something along those lines? Though this is still subject to the first mentioned objection. --Jrich 18:29, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
Understand what you mean, but the same thing can happen now when I enter a source citation for a particular event or fact repeatedly for all for whom it applies. In other words, if I enter a "Census" or "Residence" event using a census record as the source for that fact, and then enter that as a source citation for each person it applies to, if I or someone else adds additional details or relevant information about that source to the source citation for one person, you are correct that it should be added to all uses of that source citation for every person page it was used. In that case, having a copy/paste function for the source citation would enable the contributor (whether it be me or someone else) easier, faster and more convenient ability to correct or update every record rather than having to update each use of it manually. To me the copy/paste function for source citations would facilitate that update process and the ease of doing so would result in more accurate record-keeping.
Had to look up the term "transclusion," so now I understand the definition, concept and use. Sounds a lot like the inclusion of Wikipedia content in WeRelate pages. --BobC 21:19, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
Speaking of transclusion, is there any way to reference a source so you get the full citation instead of the page title. When mentioning a source in a narrative, it seems like it would be more useful to the general reader to see the citation, in case they are not a regular WeRelate user, they may be confused by Source:Savage, James. Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England. Perhaps in transcluding something from the source namespace, the software could know to replace the transclusion with the citation of the source: Savage, James. A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England: Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came Before May, 1692, on the Basis of Farmer's Register. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co, 1860-1862). --Jrich 18:29, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
Actually there is within WeRelate, and it only causes a little extra work on your part. In the Source Citation section, after picking "Source" type in the Source Block, you can enter the source and its full citation in the Title Block, specifically, "Savage, James. Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England|Savage, James. A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England: Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came Before May, 1692, on the Basis of Farmer's Register. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co, 1860-1862)." It will show up in full as you want in your published source page. Try it out. --BobC 21:19, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
Not to get carried away, but if one of the repositories for a source being cited is books.google.com, or archive.org, it would be interesting to see what kind of help the system could provide building a link to the cited page. As in, try a link based on the URL listed for the repository, and then ask the user if this is the page they meant? Same thing for censuses since all the pages are at archive.org. --Jrich 18:29, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
Looks like the page you referenced above does that by linking the actual URL for the repositories listed. But having it ask "Are you sure?" seems to be no value added or time saved. --BobC 21:19, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
I am pretty sure I did understand, but you could always give an example if you think I did misunderstand, showing the type of "source citation" you want to be able to put on several pages without cutting and pasting. I am assuming the time consuming part of source citations is adding an abstract or excerpt of the source's material that is relevant to the page being edited, because Dallan's nifty ordering of the drop down list with recently used sources at time makes it easy to re-use the title without cutting and pasting. You seem focused on families in censuses, but the same reuse of a source's content happens in books where the History of Small-Town describes in 2 paragraphs the history of a family from immigration until they settled there, and people often want to post that same material verbatim on every person descended from that family. The same feature that enables you, enables them. If we instead collected information about the source so we could, in many cases, automatically generate links to the cited page digitized at archive.org, or elsewhere, how much of that request would go away?
I do not think you understood the question about getting access to the WeRelate generated source citation. I was not talking about creating new source pages and the method you mention would not follow established conventions to titling sources. Existing pages have a "citation" block where it gives the bibliographic specification of the source. I was looking for a way to cause that to display in narrative, instead of using the source page title, since WeRelate titling conventions often make the title bear little or no resemblance to what a person would find in a card catalogue.
The last paragraph was beyond the scope of current enhancements, just exploring more about making linking to available digitized content easier and more consistently done. And the reason for for asking the user whether the right page is displayed is because building a link to a specific page involves manipulating the URL stored in the repository link on the Source page, and while it is trivial 90% of the time to insert a page number, sometimes it is not, and so confirmation is needed to ensure that what results is a working link. No, we do not have the specific URL of the specific page of the source already stored. --Jrich 22:34, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks much for your feedback and analysis. The drop-down list feature you mentioned above seems to apply differently to each source citation number (i.e. S1 has one list, S2 has another list, S3 has different list, etc. etc. etc), seemingly listed by the quantity each source was used for that citation number rather than most recently used. And then it is different on each computer I use; one set of listings for my desktop computer, different set of listings for my tablet, different for when I use a library computer. So the drop-down list feature seems to be of limited value to me, except when entering new people citing the same source repeatedly, and then only when the particular source citation moves it's way up the count.
The time-consuming part of adding a source citation now usually involves a 15-step process each time it is used. (See example below.)
(1) Selecting the Source type.
(2) Copying the source title URL.
(3) Pasting the source title URL to the title block.
(4) Copying the primary source page title.
(5) Pasting the primary source page title.
(6) Copying the source record URL.
(7) Pasting the source record URL to the record name block.
(8) Copying the source record title.
(9) Pasting the source record title to the record name block.
(10) Adding the Volume/Pages.
(11) Adding the Date.
(12) Selecting the Quality.
(13) Copying the text or other appropriate data.
(14) Pasting the text or data to the Text block.
(15) Adding the Citation ID to each event or fact it applies as a source.
So, as you can see, if the source I am using can be applied as a citation to more than one person, then being able to utilize a copy/paste feature for that particular source citation would be a very time-saving feature, reducing the 15-step process to a 2 or 3-step function for subsequent uses of the same source. --BobC 12:45, 9 May 2015 (UTC)

Here is what I would envision the additional functionality would show to the user on each edit page. The "Copy" feature would be provided to all existing source citations - the "Paste" feature would be provided for all new source citations after pressing the "Add Source Citation" link. Once the copied source citation is pasted, then it would change to "copy" only, as the two source citations S6 and S7 in the example below.

Once pasted, the only additional thing the user would need to do to edit portions of the citation that changed from the citation copied (such as Quality notation and pertinent Text transcription) and the annotation of the source citation to the event or fact it supports on the same or new page to where it was pasted, whether one additional page or multiple pages. --BobC 14:25, 9 May 2015 (UTC)


I just noticed a similar programming improvement topic was identified as a suggestion a few years ago, but not included in the "Survey" that Dallan posted a couple days ago. It is very much like my own suggestion here, entitled, "Attaching the Same Source Citation to Multiple Pages."

Jrich, you also wrote a response message there as well. Do you know why was that suggestion not included in the Survey? --BobC 20:41, 9 May 2015 (UTC)

No, I have not been involved in, and have no more, probably less, knowledge than you of what is going on. Maybe because there is no support currently in the system for copying a complex object such as a entire source citation as a single object, so it is not considered a simple fix that can be done within the $2000 budget.
I have some problems with your accounting of the steps involved, but it amounts to quibbling. You do things your way, I do them differently.
If an obituary mentions four surviving children, you wish to copy the entire obituary to all four children's pages? If that is the source that informs you the child was living at that date, it is easy to add "mentioned in mother's obituary" in the description field of the "living" or "residence" fact, for example. Obviously, with the assumption then that the obituary is on, or cited on, the mother's page if the reader wants to go see it. In a similar fashion, hopefully we don't copy a father's entire will to each child, but either refer to the father's page, or customize a citation that excerpts just the relevant parts. Which brings me back to my original, poorly-expressed point: I think much of this issue needs to be preceded by a discussion on how sources should be used and how certain situations are best tackled before building a tool that encourages a behavior that may or may not be ideal. Personally I think we need to be careful of doing much cutting and pasting, whether manually, or aided by software, because often, most of what is cut and pasted is irrelevant or peripheral to the person whose page it is being copied to. The reader is looking at that page because they are interested in that person, and that doesn't necessarily imply an interest in the spouse, parents, grandparents, etc., depending on how the reader is related. So if the decision to cut and paste the whole, rather than customize a focused excerpt, is made simply because taking the whole is easier, I think that is not desirable. --Jrich 16:34, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
It sounds as if you're saying, both here and in your initial note above, that if WeRelate makes repetitive use of recording source citations easier, then people will abuse it and will create pages with too much irrelevant data. I understand (although not necessarily agree with) that viewpoint, but want to point out the end effect of that hard line stance. Many person pages on WeRelate will remain unsourced because the process for entering source citations is too lengthy, repetitive and cumbersome to apply to multiple individuals. Only a small number of hard core genealogists with a lot of time to devote to their family trees will add those sources to more than a couple pages and source data will be less because the process is too difficult and time-consuming. So the demand for quality, well-research, and well-sourced data will create pages with less data or no supporting data at all because of that process.
As Jhamstra pointed out in a few comments on the WeRelate:Suggestions/Unsourced category page a couple years ago, "There is no efficient way to enter a source and then link all the Persons and Families where it applies, I simply do not have the time to complete this to some people's satisfaction. The most effective way to promote best practices in any software application is to make it as easy as possible to do the right thing - in this case apply a Source or Fact to multiple members of a family simultaneously. This request was discounted because it did not fit-in well with the GEDCOM standard which drove the evolution of WeRelate. If the implementers of WeRelate do not have time to help me do my job in the "right" way then why should they expect me to spend 10 x of my time on repetitive data entry." How true in my opinion... --BobC 15:13, 11 May 2015 (UTC)

Yes, I was the original requester, but it did not go anywhere at the time (2011). I was not that familiar with the functionality of the Evernote web clipper then, so I went off to investigate before responding, and then it appeared as though the suggestion was not well-received, so I did not come back to it again. Very glad to see it opened up again. Hope some version of it goes through this time. It is still very much needed!!! Regards, --Cos1776 16:06, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
Also, someone at the time (I forget who) split up my original suggestion for this which was to add the ability to use the already available wiki Extension "Labeled Section Transclusion". For context - you'll have to remember that this was during the heady days of creating large transcripts here at WR. I think that we have lost one of the main users who was behind some of the huge transcripts and many others have moved away from creating large transcripts, as resources such as Internet Archive have evolved over the last couple of years. What I ended up doing (and maybe this isn't wholly correct) was to create Transcripts that contained Templates and to "transclude" the desired text via Template when I wanted to control text across multiple pages (for example, citing the same Will Abstract for several family members). This has worked well so far, but there is likely a better way.
To Jrich's point about too much peripheral text - I would agree that once a Person's page is reaching full development, and contains a wealth of information specific to that individual, culling the peripheral information is a noble goal, but as many of these Pages are in differing stages of development, it can be extremely helpful to the researcher to see the information in context, especially when there is nothing or very little else on the page for that individual. I see nothing wrong with citing that way while a page is in the early stages of development. Regards, --Cos1776 17:24, 10 May 2015 (UTC)

Thanks much to both Jrich and Cos1776 for your input. While I've downloaded the Evernote app, I haven't yet explored its capabilities, and not really sure that it will accomplish what I'm thinking about here relating to this suggestion.

I was also thinking that using and referencing "Citation Only" sources from other websites should be thought of as temporary notations, because the web, especially privately-owned sites, can be very fluid, quickly-changing, and non-permanent. Look what happened to Prodigy and GeoCities where many early family historians created pages and input their work that eventually disappeared into the netherworld when those sites ceased to exist. The alternative here may be to create Source or MySource pages for referencing on-line sources, but then that too presents its own set of problems as brought up by other program improvement suggestions (not to mention creating a field-day for the WR Copyright Violation Patrol depending how detailed the WR source pages are and how much information is copied from the original sites and preserved).

My thought behind this suggestion was to implement a feature similar to Ancestry's ability to connect one source document to multiple individuals in one screen. For instance, when a researcher finds a census record for a single family member, they can apply that same source to every individual family member on a one-page function. That's a one-screen, two-minute process regardless of the number of individual family members in Ancestry -- here it would take up to 15 minutes or more to apply that same source citation to each person's page. Without this ability, I fear that this may be one more reason why WR will remain a small insignificant niche in the on-line genealogy community. Whether this improvement suggestion is worth the programming investment, I am not sure. (And apparently we can't even agree whether it really is an improvement at all!) --BobC 15:13, 11 May 2015 (UTC)