WeRelate talk:Source patrol


2012 Volunteers

I'll volunteer to be involved with sources, but I'm not clear at this point what this committee's brief ought to be -- other than the obvious one of merging duplicated source pages. --MikeTalk 14:07, 14 August 2012 (EDT)

Hi Mike, additional examples that would fall under this patrol include:
  1. Reviewing recent Source edits to make sure they follow WR's naming standards
  2. Determining if new Source pages should actually be MySources or entered as Citation Only (ie, family tree websites). Fix the citations and delete the Source pages as necessary. One example in the recent edits is this page --Jennifer (JBS66) 15:16, 14 August 2012 (EDT)

I'll help too. Jennifer - re the last point above, I usually ask users to do the changes themselves, we should probably talk about a rule of thumb about that.--Amelia 13:03, 16 August 2012 (EDT)

If they are a new user, changing their citation for them may be helpful for illustrative purposes. The instructions on this page have not yet been developed, so feel free to add details about how you've handled checking and fixing Source pages. --Jennifer (JBS66) 13:56, 18 August 2012 (EDT)

Thinking back over all the extended discussions and arguments during the Great Source Repair Project a while back, I was taking my time and thinking about what goals & instructions are needed. Anyway, I've posted a first draft of what seems like the most obvious points that I think we're likely to agree on, so see what you think and edit and extend as necessary. (I didn't get into who should actually do the changes.) --MikeTalk 10:13, 20 August 2012 (EDT)

Hi Mike. Agreed :-) I added a couple little things and likewise punted on the website question. Regarding the first instruction, do you run a search for every source that shows up? I don't, unless I suspect because of what it is (i.e. VR at Ancestry) that it must exist. That sounds rather time intensive, honestly. Also, another issue I'm seeing is articles. Jacques adds a ton, and I think understands the general criteria (i.e. this is about a lot of people and it's going to be/should be cited a lot). But I think a reminder to those creating article sources and citing them, say, once, might be useful.--Amelia 11:24, 20 August 2012 (EDT)
Being the kind of person I am, when I go to cite a new book-type source, and I discover it already exists, I almost alwys go to the Library of Congress website and check it, and add the relevant bib data. (The LoC site has a very nice new front end, by the way.) Those of us who prefer the county-level census Source pages seem to have settled into the preferred pattern, but I always check that a pre-existing one has the template & category notes. If I come across a useful transcript at GenWeb or somewhere (usually the result of a Google search), I will go ahead and chase down the WR Source page and add the link while I'm at it -- but I haven't been routinely doing all of that for Source pages I create myself, esp when they are for courthouse records and such. You're right, that's too much to try to do it all for every new page. Having a link to one online source is probably adequate, with alternatives simply being added as they turn up. --MikeTalk 12:22, 20 August 2012 (EDT)

Sources vs. MySources [26 August 2012]

We need a rule-of-thumb standard for when to promote a user's MySource to a general Source. I don't think I've ever run across a case of demoting a Source to a MySource. . . . --MikeTalk 10:44, 24 August 2012 (EDT)

Oh, gosh, I see the latter all the time - people create Source pages for websites, birth certificates, bibles, etc.
Ogg. I guess I've missed seeing those. Bibles need to be demoted, certainly. For birth certificates, see below. (I don't think we've all ever come close to agreement on what to do about websites.)
We do agree that "Joe's Family Tree" website gets demoted, though, right? (That's what I see most often.)
Oh, yeah. Definitely. But there are some websites, like the Hatfield Family History site, which have become major clearinghouses for certain family groups. I regard sites like that as the online equivalent of a good-quality published book.
For MySource to Source, do you mean when there isn't a Source already? I usually leave that up to the user to do that work, since if there's not already a Source page, it tends to be pretty obscure and the user's going to know more than I am.--Amelia 11:41, 24 August 2012 (EDT)
I even come across census-type sources created as MySources -- mostly, I assume, because that's the default on GEDCOM import and the importer doesn't bother to match sources (or anything else, like places). But I also sometimes find courthouse records cited that way -- a MySource pointing to an individual certificate or other public document, rather than to the aggregate of the record type, for the place. We need to add a few links here to the "How To" help pages, I think. --MikeTalk 08:15, 25 August 2012 (EDT)
Agree on links to help pages, because I generally think that's got to be the user's job; it's simply too big for us.
But on that front, I'm playing around with this, which might help with this issue, and a lot of others. There are some possible permutations on the talk page. It's a variation on the template Wikipedia uses for everything. While technically we could have a "this page needs sources" version and put it everywhere, I thought it would be more something we (and the other patrol groups) could use for fixes that either will take a fair amount of effort or specific knowledge that we just don't have. Thoughts?--Amelia 01:30, 26 August 2012 (EDT)
Yes, I like that . . . assuming the original uploader ever returns to see it. For what it's worth, I've been using this template (judiciously) for some time now. --MikeTalk 13:39, 26 August 2012 (EDT)
Right - but at least in that respect it might work better than a note on the talk page :-) --Amelia 16:14, 26 August 2012 (EDT)

"This page belongs to the Source Patrol. Please feel free to edit the instructions as you see fit." [1 October 2012]

If this page belongs to the Source Patrol, ought anyone else dare edit it?

You may think my question out-of-place or a piece of spam, but it is a genuine question from a WeRelate participant--maybe a fairly new WeRelate participant, but one who joined because she thought she would like to help.

First of all -- yes, talk pages are here as a venue for discussing things, and therefore anyone can edit. However, I think the Source Patrol would prefer that changes to the actual page (the page which this page is talking about . . .) be made by people who are actively involved in patrolling the Source pages. Of course, we'd like to invite anyone with a particular interest in sources to join us, and that includes you.

I have been looking at the instructions about sources and I have a lot of questions about why things have been arranged the way they are. But I get the feeling that those of you who were here in the early days and did a lot of the groundwork aren't especially anxious for newbies with new ideas to put their oar in. I didn't know WeRelate existed until February 2012.

Several years ago now, there was a major project to regularize Source pages, eliminate duplicates (of which there were literally many thousands), thrash out a standard style for different types of sources, and so on. In other words, the whole issue of Sources at WeRelate have a considerable history and it's likely that any question you come up with has probably been asked -- and wrangled over -- before. Sources are important in a way that the style for (e.g.) entering data in the big text box on a page is not, since sources are key in modern genealogical practice. (Several of us at WR have been teaching this stuff for some time, as well as doing research, so we've had to present it in a rational, coherent way to beginners, too.) But don't think that means we don't want useful input from anyone, regardless of how long they've had an account here!

Particularly, I don’t understand why it is okay to create a source record for a census at the county level, or even at the state or province level. If the census was authorized and supervised at federal level, then, logically, the records produced should consider the federal government as the “author”--and the author's choice of a title is the title we should cite. The place for the county and the state or province is in the reference. (I got as far back as 2009 in the archives before raising this question, but I have so many other questions I want answered I am not keen on looking any further back.)

I note that your background is apparently Canadian & British, so I don't know how much experience you may have with the history of the census in the U.S. First, the U.S. Census Bureau wasn't established until 1840; the censuses for 1790-1830 were carried out by marshals in the judicial districts, who further divided their efforts by counties within each state. The results of the enumeration were compiled by county officials and forwarded to the next-higher jurisdiction. (What you see on NARA microfilm & at Ancestry is a clerical copy, not the "original" original.) It's still possible to find the original enumerator's copies of the decennial census in courthouse attics in certain parts of the country. The 1890 census, as you know, was destroyed in Washington -- but about 15% of the census actually survived at the state & country level, here and there. And that's not even to mention all the NON-federal censuses carried out for their own purposes by a considerable number of states in non-decennial years. . . .
Second, it has been traditional (i.e., standard practice) among genealogists since at least the 1930s to cite census records by county, since that's how the first microfilm copies made available to researchers were organized. (And EDs, first introduced in 1880, still never cross country boundaries.) Having said that, a lot of users at WR prefer not to go deeper than state-level on citing the census, and you will find Source pages for each state & census under that system, too. But I think most of us would feel that doing it only at the federal level and leaving everything else for the citation detail box would be too extreme. You could make an argument not much broader than that for a single source called "Source" and just put everything else in citation detail.

I am speaking here of original census records produced on microfilm or online by a department of a federal government, or made available by a commercial agency such as Ancestry or FindMyPast. I am not referring to a transcription where there is no means of immediately checking the original (e.g. information obtained on FamilySearch). Five years or so ago most genealogists depended on a transcription, but now original images are much more available, even if one has to pay for the privilege of viewing them.

Well, you're obviously aware of the necessity of going to the original record if at all possible. These days, with the original page images of all U.S. censuses so widely available (and for free, too, if you don't mind doing a little extra work), there's really no excuse for using only a transcript. I compiled & published a few of those myself, back in the 1960s & '70s, but it would be a waste of time now. --MikeTalk 18:12, 30 September 2012 (EDT)

--goldenoldie 14:58, 30 September 2012 (EDT)

I am sorry to see that you have taken your philosophy entirely from American practice. Maybe that's the reason why my Canadian and British friends have no interest in WeRelate. --goldenoldie 01:41, 1 October 2012 (EDT)

You asked why the U.S. census Source pages followed the pattern they do, so that's what I endeavored to explain. The UK census, with a different history, a difference purpose, and a non-federal governmental system, has Source pages that are substantially different. French parish records, Dutch town records, and various other sorts of sources are also somewhat different from U.S.-type vital records, and the relevant Source pages at WeRelate reflect that.
And we do have quite a few European users registered here, in fact -- though the majority are, of course, in the U.S. There are simply far more genealogists in this country than anywhere else and they're far more active. American researchers who are serious about this stuff soon find themselves involved in the records and sources for other countries, which is less likely to be the case in, for instance, the UK. I've been a member of the SoG for a couple of decades, as it happens, and I know far more about English records than the English researchers of my acquaintance know about the U.S. They tend to be more parochial -- and why not? Nearly all their ancestors came from only a few miles away. --MikeTalk 08:16, 1 October 2012 (EDT)

Sort keys on census pages [27 November 2012]

Based on a conversation on this talk page, I wanted to bring up this issue here. Some census categories have a mixture of pages that do and do not use sort keys. I know the thinking has been that since the pages generally sort alphabetically (though under the letter S), sort keys should not be added.

Should we add text to the Help:Source page titles#United States stating that sort keys should not be used (and should be removed when noticed)? Or, would we like to move in the direction of adding them in the future since other categories such as the Cemeteries do use them? --Jennifer (JBS66) 20:26, 26 November 2012 (EST)

I don't really have an opinion one way or the other in a vacuum, but my logic has always been what you state -- that it's a lot of work to switch at this point, for no benefit except theoretical consistency. Hence I have no interest in using my mindless edit hours (minutes) to deal with this issue, and as a matter of source patrol prefer whichever is less work, which at this point remains removing sort keys for census pages (and in any other category that will be all geographical sources, if we want a consistent rule).--Amelia 23:30, 26 November 2012 (EST)
I've been getting quite a few email alerts lately because a couple of people (not either of you guys, obviously) has been going through all the census source pages for this or that county and adding sort keys to them. I've gone to the pages to see what was happening, and I frankly can't see that adding keys makes much practical difference -- except, as you say, as a matter of theoretical consistency. (When I was 20, that might might have been enough justification, but not now.) OTOH, I don't think it's worth going through thousands of source pages systematically and removing sort keys, either. If one user or another feels a holy mission to track all those down, they have my blessing, anyway.
Since WR started, a variety of more or less equally useful ways of doing certain things have evolved. Usually, they work equally well both for the editors and for later viewers. Almost always, they're not worth the time and effort to make them conform to a single rigid standard. Census-sources are a good example of this. There are plenty of other cases where uniform single standards are necessary and I think we're probably better off concentrating on them. --MikeTalk 07:23, 27 November 2012 (EST)
I believe Amelia and I have discussed this before, though I can't find the discussion. The thought of adding sort keys to the census category was to make it easier to browse, since everything wouldn't be lumped together under S (albeit, it would still sort alphabetically). Compare Category:1860 Indiana census with Category:1930 Texas census. I would argue that the Indiana example is easier to browse than the Texas example. Although the Texas example is sorted alphabetically, it is hard to browse with no breaks in the list. What's bad are the pages like Category:1920 Ohio census where half of the entries use sort keys and the other half doesn't. There's going to be clean-up to do either way (though I don't think it's a huge priority). However, I would be in favor of changing the instructions to include the sort key for the census as they are added. --Ajcrow 08:13, 27 November 2012 (EST)
Well, okay, . . . but, Amy, I have to confess I can't think of a situation in which I would particularly want to browse the census category for a given state and year. I use the search function to see if a particular census Source page has already been created. It's quick and (thanks to Dallan's honing) it's accurate. And if it hasn't been created, I can easily go on and do so right from that point in the failed search. So this is just another example, I think, of multiple equally useful ways of accomplishing the same thing. --MikeTalk 09:12, 27 November 2012 (EST)
I agree with Amy's point that there would be clean-up involved either way. I also agree that it's not a priority (or even a task) for the Source patrol to add the sort key to existing census pages. To be consistent with other categories on WR and with common wiki practices, I would lean toward editing the help pages to include the sort key from here on. --Jennifer (JBS66) 18:27, 27 November 2012 (EST)

Cleaning up book source pages [27 November 2012]

Speaking of priorities -- I've been mostly concentrating on cleaning up and extending the info on Source pages for published books, and I'm about to start systematically merging duplicate book-source pages, too. With regard to that, can someone remind me where the trailing parenthetical numbers following the page title of many of these sources came from? (Yes, there are still a lot of them around.) It's an artifact of the original import back at the beginning of WR, and it was discussed during the Great Source Cleanup Project, but I can't remember which original database that was. I want to extend the description of the preferred clean-up method on the Source Patrol page, which includes noting what these numbers represent and why they should be removed. --MikeTalk 09:27, 27 November 2012 (EST)

It looks like from this discussion, these were FHL film numbers carried over from importing that catalog. During the source project, Dallan removed these automatically from most titles. However, if removing the number would have caused a duplicate page title, the numbers were not removed. --Jennifer (JBS66) 18:39, 27 November 2012 (EST)

Flagging dubious pages [30 May 2013]

I was recently asked how a user can flag sources for us that maybe don't fit WR rules, and the user is not sure how to or if the page should be fixed. Does it make sense to create a "source patrol" category? Or even a broader admin category for questionable pages? We have "Review Needed", but that seems to be for images only. I'm not aware of any similar existing category.--Amelia 15:48, 13 December 2012 (EST)

We used to have an Image Review category and then changed its name to Review needed to broaden its scope. The Copypaste template, when added to a page, places the page in the Review needed category. Also, I'm nearly certain that images are no longer going to be added to that category, because Dallan removed the "need help" option from the image upload dropdown box. I like the idea of creating a template to flag pages where users need help, and that template could place the page in the Review cat like the copypaste does. --Jennifer (JBS66) 15:57, 13 December 2012 (EST)
I kind of like that idea, it's more public than a category.--Amelia 16:02, 13 December 2012 (EST)
Somehow, I never got back to this. Has one of you tweeked the "Review" template so it can be logically used to flag any page that needs review, not just for copyright questions? I'm thinking specifically of flagging Source pages that need reworking, but which I don't want to stop and do at the moment I discover one. I think a re-worked template could point to the same "Category: Review needed" page, though. We just need them all together in one place as a checklist. --MikeTalk 09:34, 30 May 2013 (EDT)

GenWeb sources [30 June 2013]

The discussion above started from a new GenWeb page, which has no original content and so should not be a source. But we have 2000 "GenWeb Project" pages, and at least one user is going through and editing them right now. The best I can find in the archives is that we made these Finding Aids and punted the question, but that was 2008 and predates a lot of fine-tuning the question of what gets source pages. Do we want to delete them on sight (at least the uncited ones)? Explain to users that edit them that they're not actually supposed to be used for citation? Develop a template for them that explains that that we can drop in when we see them?--Amelia 16:02, 13 December 2012 (EST)

Has there been a determination concerning GenWeb pages?--Khaentlahn 17:17, 30 June 2013 (EDT)

Colorado State Census [16 December 2012]

After trying a couple of searches, I could not find examples of a State Census to use as a guideline in creating a source for the Colorado 1885 State Census. I went with the standard of the Federal Census and added a category reference for 1885, but did not create the related category page. Should these state census's be linked to the same category as the Federal ones? Should the category be the same?

See Source:El Paso, Colorado, United States. 1885 Colorado State Census

Thanks for your input Rick--RGMoffat 16:15, 16 December 2012 (EST)

WR sources with no credit to the original provider. [21 January 2013]

This is the current citation in WR sources for vital statistics of births in Ontario, Canada:

Ontario. Registrar General. Births, stillbirths, and delayed registration with indexes, 1869-1908. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1992-2004).

Since I work with Ontario families a great deal, I see this reference on a lot of birth references.

Archives of Ontario provide the microfilms to FamilySearch (and to Ancestry, for that matter). The Registrar General for the province annually provides Archives of Ontario with a further year of births, marriages and deaths to the records that they can make publicly available at their headquarters in Toronto, on interlibrary loan throughout Canada, and, after an extra year's pause, to FamilySearch and Ancestry.

Is there a way in which we could phrase this source to give credit to the original provider? I hesitate to alter it myself. Birth registrations have been used as an example here, but the same goes for marriages and deaths. The end year in the date range should be adjusted annually, but that's an easy job.

--goldenoldie 10:03, 19 January 2013 (EST)

You're quite right. We ordinarily cite the original provider of the data -- especially when it's a government agency, because that makes it "official" information. Ancestry (and any other subsequent source where the data is repeated) is then noted on the Source page itself, similar to the way we note out-of-copyright books offered at Ancestry. It appears that in this case the main part of the Source page entry ("Ontario. Registrar General." etc) is correct as it stands, so I don't think an entirely new Source page would have to be created. Don't hesitate to alter it, either! Remember that nothing at a wiki is carved in stone. Take a look at a few other "official government" Source pages, whether U.S. federal, U.S. state, Canadian provincial, or whatever, as models, if you aren't sure. Explanatory and scope notes on a Source page are always good, too.
There's also a standard way of indicating an "open entry" when the title changes with the addition of new material each year. It's taken from library and academic bibliographical practice and it looks like this: so and so, 1910-     . At some point in the future, should that source cease to be updated, it then would be changed to put the closing date in the place of the open space. This being a wiki, to get it to look right, I've been formatting it with the "non-breaking space" code. --MikeTalk 12:06, 19 January 2013 (EST)

I have now had a go at revising the main source entries for both the births and deaths. In both cases there are a few additional entries that will either be revised or redirected to the main source. There are now four repositories instead of the original two with the Archives given their rightful first place (although I am sure most people will use the online sources).

Under the Usage Tips I found a long list of LDS microfilms with no explanations of what was on each. This may have been added before the LDS Catalog went online. After inspecting the Catalogue--where each of the same numbers has a description--I removed the list of numbers and replaced it with a hyperlink to the the Catalogue website. Are there any objections?

The marriages are trickier. Before vital statistics started in 1869, the province had different ways of calling in data from clergymen and justices of the peace out in the hinterland. My opinion is that pre-1869 marriages need to be dealt with separately, but in such a way that anyone can find them and not just link up to one general category. Maybe others will think differently. --goldenoldie 01:57, 21 January 2013 (EST)

Family Search Community Trees - Welsh Medieval Tree [26 January 2013]

I recently observed Werebear making effective use of information from a FamilySearch community tree while working through ancient welsh genealogy. Having recently been burned by having source pages condemned, I was a little concerned about this. Upon looking at the particular tree in question, it seemed better than what I had encountered elsewhere - more sources at first glance. Also, while these are trees contributed to FamilySearch by the public, FamilySearch does not appear to be taking just any contributed tree. There also seems to be some effort to continue to work and/or update the content.

So I worked with Werebear to create this source page. I also created a template to smooth page citation. Further, I said that he should feel free to use the source to the extent that it really helped him with work he was interested in - but to hold off on any wider page-tagging effort until we discussed this more widely. I started by launching a discussion on JBS66's talk page, the content of which is below (discussion resumes below included content):

Not seeking another database myself, but I've noticed someone making use of a Family Search tree on Wales. The address of one individual being:
I've skimmed some of it, and it's much better than some I've seen. How does this fit into the source/reference universe as presently conceived?
--jrm03063 18:49, 22 January 2013 (EST)
My belief is that we'd address this source in a similar way that we addressed Source:RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project and Source:Ancestry.com - Ancestry World Tree. They contain user/community submitted trees that have varying degrees of accuracy. A user would cite the main source in the Title field, and add either a text description of the specific database/page - or a link to the webpage. We would not create source pages for each individual community tree. That being said, since this is a Source-related question, I would suggest that you leave a message on the Source patrol talk page for their input.
--Jennifer (JBS66) 14:27, 23 January 2013 (EST)
I'll take it over there. I can't say for sure, but the familysearch trees seem better than the others you note - since they have to actually be accepted. There also seems to be evidence of updating and revision, which holds some promise. --jrm03063 16:01, 25 January 2013 (EST)

I wouldn't be too quick to lump this in with WorldConnect or the Ancestry World Tree. This seems more selective. I googled the subject and, while there were a number of breathless claims about this being the greatest thing since sliced bread, there was also a 2009 claim that the databases contained some observable and obvious errors (which may have since been corrected). I havn't seen other concrete claims, but will keep looking.

I'm also not sure whether it's a great idea to take all the trees over there as part of just one source - as each seems to have different focus, basis, and provenance. Different communities may be more dilligent than others.

I see two possible good reasons for making use of material from one or more trees on this site.

  • We might actually conclude that the information is pretty good - and that we'll benefit
  • We might also find that a particular tree, or trees, are backed by an active community, with which WeRelate would like to cooperate.

All I've got for now. Will post more as I find it. --jrm03063 16:01, 25 January 2013 (EST)

I am the guilty one. I don't have any insider knowledge into how the FamilySearch Community Trees are put together. I have emailed the person listed as owner of the Welsh Medieval Database Primarily of Nobility and Gentry for more information. My impression, just from looking through them, is that the databases do not all follow the same practices. For example, my impression is that the Welsh one uses Peter Bartrum's published work as a "core", systematically entering persons and their relationships from Bartrum's published work, with citations, and then adding information and persons from other sources, again, with citations. The database provides specific sources, although sometimes it is not clear to me which of the sources is being cited for a death date, for example. You also have to be aware that the database uses a generational dating scheme, which means the birth dates ending in 00, 30, or 70, could be way off. Also, they have a, to me, annoying habit of listing the places of residence in the birthplace space. Another of the FamilySearch Community Trees I have found useful is Sussex. Genealogies of Families Living In Sussex. It seems to be simply a database extraction of John Comber's Sussex Genealogies. I don't have access to this work at home, and, in any case, I am not sure how different me citing the database (with a specific hyperlink given) is from me simply citing Comber directly (since you all don't know how reliable I am.)--Werebear 10:02, 26 January 2013 (EST)
I too have sent him e-mail (and he certainly seems to have an impressive genealogical CV...). I'm interested in knowing if this tree is a static snap shot, or if there are people continuing to work on it. If the former, then perhaps it is no better than citing Bartrum's work directly. However, if it's the latter, then it could be a quite different matter. --jrm03063 11:43, 26 January 2013 (EST)
At a minimum, it is obvious that man-years of work have gone into this, and so far, when I have checked, the sources say what they are claimed to say.--Werebear 15:33, 26 January 2013 (EST)
By the way - there's nothing "guilty" about you in this. I'm very happy to see anyone who helps to take on the ancient spaces, because I think it reflects badly upon WeRelate when we tolerate large swaths of stuff that's criminally weak. I would just hate for good intentions to lead anyone astray... --jrm03063 15:43, 26 January 2013 (EST)

Amendment to a source description [11 April 2013]

I just added to

Source talk:Gunn, George. Early History of Stichill

and would like to bring it to the attention of the Source Patrol. To me the FHLC reference infers the book is not available at FHCs (books usually aren't), but it needs a second opinion. --goldenoldie 09:29, 11 April 2013 (EDT)

Rootsweb [15 April 2013]

I noticed this new repository page and source page. I thought that Source pages were discouraged for RootsWeb trees - should they also be for message boards? --Jennifer (JBS66) 09:10, 15 April 2013 (EDT)

Thanks for the head's up. Source:Rootsweb Message Boards exists, like various other large questionable sources, for people to cite in these cases, but we long ago deleted pages for the individual boards as unnecessary and unwieldy. There's no content or citation information that would be specific to a particular surname board. I'll leave Ceyockey a message and delete.--Amelia 11:50, 15 April 2013 (EDT)
Thanks for the alert, Amelia. I have made the redirect an orphan so that it can be deleted now if desired. I will put some thoughts about best practice in using the source on the source's talk page, which could go to the content page if there is agreement. --ceyockey 20:50, 15 April 2013 (EDT)

New additions to sources: seeking phrasing approval [30 May 2013]

I have just added a new source at [[1]].

This is the first of a series of about 50 books and CDs published by a Scottish Family History Society. Before I add any more, I would appreciate if someone on the Source Patrol would cast their eyes over this one and see if there is any more (or any less) that I should put on each entry.

I notice that a CD is not on the list of types of sources. This has become a very common way of publishing for local genealogical and family history societies and I wonder if consideration could be made to adding it.

--goldenoldie 14:09, 16 April 2013 (EDT)

This looks fine, as one way of doing it. The only thing I might do is to remove the street address from behind the publisher's name, but only because that makes it appear in the automatically-generated "Citation" section, where it isn't needed. You can move the address down to the general text box with any notes on usage, etc. In fact, I would include a note that this is the beginning of a projected series expected to run to 50+ volumes. (I've done that on a couple of Source pages for ongoing series of diocesan records.)
Until pretty recently, CDs weren't considered "original" sources because most of those on the market were digital reprints of books or records published long ago. So the other way of doing this page would be to point to the original records at the Abbey, which constitute the actual source. Then the CD information would be given below in the text box, just as if it were a reprint in hardcopy book form. However, it may not be that cut and dried, really, because if the CDs published by the Society reorganize and index the Abbey's records, . . . well, they've just created a new source. It gets complicated if you're a bibliographer. But that only matters, usually, to other bibliographers and I wouldn't be in a rush to change what you've done in any fundamental way. --MikeTalk 09:55, 30 May 2013 (EDT)

Duplicate Sources? [27 August 2013]

These seem to me to be duplicates; not sure how to handle a situation like this.--GayelKnott 21:05, 25 August 2013 (EDT)

Source:Brenner, Allen Lewis. Brenner - James Genealogy
Source:Brenner, Allen Lewis. Brenner-James Genealogy

It looks like there're actually four souce pages involved here, and only a single content page (Family:William Dunn and Sarah Brenner (1)) that uses them:

  • What links to: Source:Brenner, Allen Lewis. Brenner-James Genealogy
    • Source:Ancestry.com - Brenner-James genealogy (redirect page)
    • Family:William Dunn and Sarah Brenner (1)
  • What links to: Source:Brenner, Allen Lewis. Brenner - James Genealogy
    • Source:Brenner - James genealogy (redirect page)

I'd say that the Family page is pointing to the correct source page, and that the other one should be merged into that one. Although, if you want to be thorough, maybe that hyphen could be changed to an en dash (but still unspaced).

Sam Wilson ( TalkContribs ) … 22:32, 25 August 2013 (EDT)

Thanks, Sam. I guess I'm a little slow -- do I use Redirect to merge the two pages? (Also, I'd be inclined to keep the Family Search citation and add info from the Ancestry citation to it because I think the Family Search citation gives better information, but that's just my opinion.)--GayelKnott 23:43, 26 August 2013 (EDT)
No, because there is only the one Family page pointing to this source, I would suggest copying and pasting everything known about it into Source:Brenner, Allen Lewis. Brenner-James Genealogy, and then deleting the other three source pages (as there's nothing linking into them there's no need to keep them as redirects). — Sam Wilson ( TalkContribs ) … 00:28, 27 August 2013 (EDT)

Source patrol [1 November 2016]

A Source page slipped through the cracks recently, Source:Suicide. I did a random check of recent new Source pages and found more that don't follow WR's titling conventions (or may not even qualify as Source pages):

Amelia and Mike, you are both listed as current Source patrol members. Do either of you feel that you would like me to try to recruit additional members to assist in Source patrols? --Jennifer (JBS66) 21:32, 1 December 2013 (UTC)

Always. I go back and forth in my ability to check on new ones (and I'm on person patrol too), so more help is always good. Although I note that 6 problems out of what must be over 500 changes is not too bad. Question though, how do you even see back to the ones added more than a week ago? Even setting it on 500 changes in the last 30 days, all I can see is 7 days back.--Amelia 21:58, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
Admin>Special Pages>New pages is one option, but that appears to show only 7 days as well. I did this search though this shows all source edits, not just new pages. --Jennifer (JBS66) 22:15, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
Amelia, do you happen to have a recommendation of a user or two that shows good knowledge of Sources? Before I ask generally on the Watercooler for volunteers, either you or I could ask the user(s) specifically if they'd like to assist with this patrol. --Jennifer (JBS66) 16:06, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Simply for informational purposes, the search you provided as an example was very interesting, but it isn't an accurate representation of Source pages I personally have edited. The listed sources may have been affected by Person pages which have been changed or removed by me, but the actual source was not touched for many of them.--Khaentlahn 16:19, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
2016 Admin follow up re: Source:Suicide. "Needs attention" banner was placed on page following discussion above in 2013, but nothing more was done. I followed through by moving the information to the referenced page and deleting Source:Suicide. Is there a process in place to follow through when a page is flagged for attention like this? Thanks, --cos1776 13:47, 1 November 2016 (UTC)

Quality of a source [21 February 2014]

Hello, Jennifer and others ... What about the serious and verifiability of "Ancestry.com" ! I noticed several errors from some contributors who used this site as reference. We can't access gratis to the site ! See for example what I modified for Person:Marie Gaillard (3), Person:Marie Massieu (1) and Person:Laurent Seguin (2) --> MySource:Dustysabs/Ancestry Family Trees - Amicalement - Marc ROUSSEL - --Markus3 07:09, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Bonjour Marc, regarding Ancestry Trees: "citation to Public Member Trees is discouraged generally and should be limited wherever possible" (from Source:Ancestry.com Public Member Trees). It shows where the user found their information and can show the general quality (or lack of quality) of the data. When you find better data from primary sources you can delete the Ancestry Tree source citation. --Jennifer (JBS66) 14:06, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Places in VR titles [5 November 2014]

Does any one remember if this has been resolved, and if not, we should discuss and state the rule: If a vital record source exists for a geographic area that no longer exists or has changed, how is the source titled? Based on the title/place at the time, or based on the place as of 1900? The example spurring the question is the 1850 census for counties of Virginia that became West Virginia. --Amelia 05:19, 6 November 2014 (UTC)

Committee Roll Call & Update [21 January 2017]

Hello - I am in the process of updating the information on the status of our admin structure and maintenance committees. The members of this committee are currently listed as:

  • JBS66, Liason to the Overview Committee
  • Amelia.Gerlicher
  • Mksmith

Please respond here to let us know that you are still active on this committee and whether or not you wish to continue in this capacity.

To help us quantify the work that is being done, please include a brief list of the tasks that you perform most frequently and an estimate of the average amount of time per month that you currently spend on these tasks.
Thank you in advance for your help, --cos1776 22:31, 16 October 2016 (UTC)

Hi Cos1776, thank you for emailing me. I am going to decline being a part of the administrative committees. I wish you all the best in the revitalization efforts. --Jennifer (JBS66) 11:14, 15 November 2016 (UTC)
Jennifer, at the risk of repeating myself from the post on the Mentoring Committee, thank you again for your service on these committees over the years. Please just let us know if you wish to become involved again in the future. --cos1776 16:46, 20 November 2016 (UTC) (on behalf of WeRelate:Overview committee)
I just saw this and noticed my name had been removed from the committee. I still review sources about 2x a week. Takes something like 10 minutes.--Amelia 19:41, 21 January 2017 (UTC)
That is great news. Thank you Amelia. I will put your name back on the page. Would you consider stepping into the OC Liaison role? Given your years of experience, you would be a perfect fit. --cos1776 21:15, 21 January 2017 (UTC)
Probably. Please shoot me a line offline as to what that entails.--Amelia 23:08, 21 January 2017 (UTC)

New Call for volunteers! [20 January 2017]

This committee is in need of volunteers. If you would like to help, please let us know below. Thank you! --cos1776 16:46, 20 November 2016 (UTC)

I would like to volunteer--sstults 00:11, 18 January 2017 (UTC)
Thank you. I will add your name to the committee page where you can find some instructions as well. The biggest tasks for this committee right now are to monitor for spam and vandalism and to help new Users learn how to correctly work with the source database. Feel free to ask if you have any additional questions. Regards, --cos1776 20:14, 20 January 2017 (UTC)

Secondary vs. derivative [27 January 2017]

Maintain a distinction between a Source page for an original courthouse-type source (e.g., marriages, probates, land records, civil court records) and subsequently published compilations and abstracts of those records. The former are primary sources while the latter are secondary; the two should not be merged on the same page.

This is incorrect. Published records are considered derivative, but the basis of their information is still primary, i.e., based on somebody who knew first hand or person whose job it was, contemporarily, to record the event (i.e., town clerk, church clerk). Since they have been processed to create the derivative representation of the original record, they always have the possibility of introducing additional error, but this additional error rate is small and may be offset by their use of multiple primary sources (e.g., most vital records show how the record differs from church records, gravestones, etc.) Alternatively, secondary sources are written after the fact by people who are copying primary sources, and have no independent first hand knowledge, and besides miscopying the record may misinterpret it. Further reading here and other places.

Since it is often hard to identify the original record versus a town copy, etc, and since even photographs, etc., are technically considered derivative, the actual use of original records is rare. And since even original records are afflicted by the ever present curse of human error (plus aging and degradation), it is not a 100% guarantee of accuracy. Further, the big drop-off in quality occurs when the source does not tell where the knowledge comes from. A source that identifies where information comes from is capable of verification, and the mere effort of sharing such is a good indicator of a careful researcher. --Jrich 15:55, 21 January 2017 (UTC)

Thank you Jrich. I agree with you. We could use more of this type of review from experienced users. Do you have any additional suggestions for this particular set of instructions? Would you consider helping out by doing the same type of content review for the other patrol pages as well? --cos1776 21:15, 21 January 2017 (UTC)
I echo the point that the distinction on primary/secondary/derivative is well-taken, but wonder what you recommend as the rule for source pages? I'm reasonably sure this was written before Ancestry and FamilySearch went on their sprees of posting films of local-level records, and so the practical question at the time was distinguishing between people who had gone to the county courthouse in X county to dig up a record and those who had used a book that indexed those records. Regardless of the terminology, those are functionally different records and experiences that should be cited differently and would have different information on the source pages. Now most people online are probably looking at images of those county records, taken by LDS, posted on FamilySearch in one collection, and sold to Ancestry for use in another collection. I ran into this twice this morning where someone created a page for the database on Ancestry where we already have one for the FS version (but the FS version uses a slightly different naming convention and/or the years covered have been updated), and I'm kind of at a loss as to the most helpful rule. We have to balance being able to find the right page easily (which would be easiest if every permutation of the record/repository/naming convention had its own page) and the practical reality of not always knowing what sets are the same, with the ability to review and verify (which is enhanced if the slightly-differently-named-but-identical free FamilySearch record set is linked to the paid, Ancestry one) and reducing duplication of effort (which occurs when people are trying to document and discuss the same records in two places). My current approach is generally to keep the first one created in our database (typically FamilySearch), redirect the others, and include on the page any different names and the information that shows they are the same. That way the page should be findable regardless of the version searched for. But if others have other ideas, it's ripe for discussion.--Amelia 23:26, 21 January 2017 (UTC)

I tried to find a recent example, but did not want to spend a lot of time. The first I ran across: Source:Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001 was recently redirected to Source:Indiana, United States. Marriages, 1810-2001.
Now when I type in the old source name, "Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001" the drop down list suggests nothing, and when I proceed on, using the full Find/Add process to look for the source, the old name is not seen. So it is not "findable" if the user is sure what name they created it with, and they would have to realize that the renamed happened. If they want to add a source with that exact name because that is the source they are using and they don't know how it relates to some source having a different name, they are likely to try and add a duplicate, but of course that will yield an error, and frustration and confusion will mount.
This is an easy case, where it was only changed to put the place in front of the title. Imagine if there differences in the title, such as the years changing to 1795-2001, or the addition of the words "County Marriages" instead of Marriages, etc.
In various examples, there has been little effort to avoid creating lots of pages. For example, instead of one source for the entire 1900 US census, there is supposed to be one Source page for each county in the 1900 census. There are place pages for each cemetery instead of adding cemetery name into the description field or leaving it in the source citation notes. We have some users creating source pages for individual articles instead of citing the magazine and listing the article title in the record field. So the question is, why not have a different Source page for each collection? You can have different citations, different links, both of which seem appropriate, and if it is the same as an existing source, the description can simply say, the same source as Source:XYZ. That way the user only needs to know the name that is in front of them, and ease of use is better.
Other possible solutions come to mind but they require software development and/or administrator time, neither of which appears available. --Jrich 01:45, 22 January 2017 (UTC)
I am interested in hearing any workable solutions. The example Source:Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001 is a good one for demonstrating some of the pitfalls of our current (re)titling practices for sources and the effects it has on working with our internal database. To further complicate this issue, you may also have seen that I put a note on the talk page of the renamed source page alerting the creator to the existence of another source page for the dynamic FamilySearch database (Source:Indiana, United States. Indiana Marriages, 1780-1992) from which the static Ancestry version was derived.
For many of the reasons outlined above, I have never agreed with the decision to rename sources away from the title used by the provider of that source, especially when we have Place fields already linked to Source pages which remove the need for spelling out Place page titles in Source page titles. I understand why the decision was made at the time, but it is a very old fashioned and limiting view of the capabilities of our program. I don't see the renaming practice going away soon, so we have to find solutions from within our present environment.
If we had Alternate name fields for Source pages (software change) in the same way that we have them for Place pages it would help to solve the dropdown menu problem Jrich mentioned.
Absent a software change, we could think about how sources from Ancestry are coming in. The vast majority come from GEDCOMs where Source matching is (supposed to be) accomplished on the front end which takes care of the link. In the past, there have been far too many non-matched GEDCOMs allowed in, but I am trying to stop that from happening going forward, and so far have had some success with it. For Source linking from the Person page, we could revise the instructions to include something specific to titles from Ancestry.com. For example, if you enter the Ancestry title "Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001" in the Title field of the Source Citation, you won't get a dropdown to select, but it will redirect properly. Of course, we want to stress the importance of consistency and be careful to not encourage the creation of too many red links, but if a user were to consistently enter the same source title the same way over multiple pages, the red link to a non-existent Source page that results is easily remedied with one redirect to the intended page.
Re: why not have a different Source page for each collection? - I think the original idea was that having one page per source would facilitate research by being able to easily group persons who had that source in common or see all persons linked to that source, etc. It is worth discussing further if that ideal is actually being realized. Are our Source pages actually being used for anything other than linking to citations? --cos1776 15:33, 22 January 2017 (UTC)

So vacation's over, and I don't have a lot of time to engage in these discussions, but a couple things. First, I don't know if we just had to wait for source indexing, or whether we are interpreting things differently, but if you put "Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001" into the search box now, the three of the first four entries are the talk page for the 1810-2001 source, the 1810-2001 source, and the 1780-1992 source. And if you do leave the "Ancestry" title, it redirects properly. I think that's pretty ideal, and as good as we get. We have to have a standard naming convention somehow, or the dropdown menu totally ceases to function.
If we have a different source page for each collection, then what's the purpose of having source pages at all? We lose all the advantages of them, which seems a shame because we... what? Think it might be hard to track different names in order to make sources findable? We'd want to have links between the different pages for the same database anyway, and this whole question comes up in the course of combining records where we have the information to put on the right page. Either way takes work. The ultimate goal product in a system with one page per source is that we gradually redirect all the pages to one comprehensive robust record of how that source is used and how it can be found, with its different names tracked and explained in the body of the source. We can get there gradually, but we know that admins or other helpful users can make the redirects. In a system with one page per collection there are source pages that duplicate nearly all of their content, some nearly identically named, where we hope that someone understands that all the different pages need to be updated when one changes. (And I don't assume that users are that careful about "the name in front of them." It may well be just "Indiana Marriages." It's probably, for this source, Indiana Marriages 1810-2001, which was apparently the name of the FamilySearch collection until recently. Unless the user copied and pasted the same name that's currently used, the name they have will be different in some way, and having more options to pick from is likely to be more confusing, not less.) My concern is that we've constructed an awful lot around the notion that the source itself is more important than the name of the page, and upending that would have a lot of consequences beyond maybe helping usability sometimes.
Back to my original question, I'm actually pretty happy with this particular example now that it's indexed, which is kind of a middle ground. We could say that if there's a material difference in the name (like different years, not a different comma), then a second version of the source is fine (but not required), with appropriate links back. But we're not going to leave it when someone creates another page for SSDI, WWI Draft Registration, or something else already reasonably findable.--Amelia 06:17, 28 January 2017 (UTC)
So, Amelia and jrich can figure this easy case out. We have been citing sources for 10 years or so. Imagine you are having a hard time understanding WeRelate, then how is this going to look, or more importantly, how are the harder cases going to look? They don't know you can find the same data in multiple places (i.e., like Source:Massachusetts, United States. Massachusetts Deaths, 1841-1915 being a subset of Source:Massachusetts, United States. Vital Records, 1841–1910; or that Source:Dedham, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States. Church Records, Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths, 1638-1845 is really just volume 2 of Source:Dedham, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States. Early Records of the Town of Dedham, Massachusetts, and so on, and so forth). Take the above example: is the collection of Indiana marriages from 1810-2001 different than 1802-1892, or 1811-2007, or 1780-1992, or to 1850? The user only knows what is in front of them! They don't know the other four collections. And if they have a different name than any of these, they don't know any of the five! So do they guess (any collection that spans the year I am interested in?) or do they enter a new source? Mine is on Ancestry, why doesn't the search list show any saying Ancestry?
You don't lose all advantages, in fact you gain some. For example, you may gain the ability to have this citation say FamilySearch and that citation say Ancestry. You gain the advantage of having people find something exactly where they expect it to be. And if the description directs/refers them all to a single page for discussions (perhaps even taking advantage of transclusion), then the commonality can be preserved. --Jrich 07:27, 28 January 2017 (UTC)

Should we retain old MySource citations that only cite a GEDCOM file? [7 July 2017]

How does the patrol community feel about retaining citations that cite a GEDCOM file (with or without a date) and nothing else? These used to come in by the dozens on almost every uploaded file? For several years now, most reviewers have not allowed them to be generated, so the issue is only with pages in older trees, like Person:Herbert Siegmund (1), uploaded in 2008. He shows:

1. Sharone Mundine - 2364957.ged. - Date of Import: Apr 23, 2006
2. Howard Export.FTW. - Date of Import: Jan 26, 2008

Some admins are routinely dealing with these by deleting the MySource page itself. This turns the link in each citation to red, but it does not remove the actual citation from each page. As a result, the MySource page will appear in the "Watched pages" list, because there are still pages trying to link to it. To remove reference to it completely, each page must be edited to remove the red link.

Since we don't allow these types of citations to be imported any longer, does anyone see any reason why the older ones should be retained? Please speak up now, if you do. In my opinion, these citations are 99.99% useless and can/should be removed. --cos1776 16:41, 3 July 2017 (UTC)

Agree on deleting. I delete them from pages, which allows fixing them up generally, and then delete the gedcom when the links are gone. This is admittedly a pain, but better than the red links IMHO.--Amelia 17:52, 3 July 2017 (UTC)
Wish I'd known about this rule ages ago. Many UK inhabitants who have found their way into WeRelate would now be truly unsourced. In other words, I agree. --Goldenoldie 17:56, 3 July 2017 (UTC)
I am generally against all cleanup that is done without knowledge of the page being worked on. While I want to see this stuff deleted and cleaned up as much as anyone, I can sometimes (admittedly often not) take the titles of such gedcoms and do searches and find the sources being referred to, and from there, identify who the poster is talking about and find better sources. If I encounter such a page already having sources in hand, then yes I will delete such sources knowing I am providing sources to justify the data on the page. I don't see no sources as any kind of improvement over bad sources. --Jrich 04:42, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
I recognize that it would ultimately be best if we had an army of workers who could shore up each existing Person page from these old dump and run files. Absent that, I have a concern that leaving a list of references on a page that are essentially a big nothing burger may be giving prospective researchers the false impression that the facts posted are already adequately sourced and that the work is done there. Person:Hesekiah Bearse (1) is a good example. At first glance, he looks well-sourced, when actually he is completely unsourced by our standards of what constitutes a reliable source.
I know that we all have different methods of attack when our goal is to get sources on the page. It is interesting to hear that you still take the time to seek out and examine any referenced GEDCOMs to see if they might actually contain real sources. I will admit that I gave that up long ago after being burned too many times. I am more likely to get good results by starting my search with the names, dates, places, relationships, etc. themselves vs. someone's personal file name.
So, given that examining the file is rarely a fruitful endeavor and that the name of any files that may have been referenced earlier will still be retained in the page history for those who wish to go that route, I think I will stick with my original vote to remove the citations to GEDCOM files when there is no further information.
Alternatively, we could opt to replace the citations with Template:Sources needed 1 or something similar if there is a big enough desire to organize such pages into some type of work list for adding sources later. --cos1776 14:26, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
I agree with the sources needed template. Further, I believe there should be notices, especially in places where new users frequent, alerting them to the need to post sources, what are good sources, and similar type information to educate users, since I feel 95% of users don't really follow good practices and are duped by various websites into propagating such bad practices.
However, in forensic correction of undersourced pages, I find that many are right but merely lacking in good sources. Some of the old AFN people did actually know what they were doing. So often it is easy to find sources and fix pages the right way. Once you develop some familiarity with an area, you kind of know where good sources are likely to be found. The big problem is when good sources aren't obvious. Most people, once they find one source, stop looking for more, so being able to know the source they copied is sometimes critical to understanding their intent. I'd give examples, but it is hard to, without appearing to implicate the poster. Again, if the problem is easy, this is not needed, but it is exactly the difficult cases that such subtle clues, such as where the data comes from, are needed. So my feeling is, if you have no knowledge of the page, don't touch it. If it is so obvious you can fix it without finding a source, then it is obvious to the reader too, and you aren't really accomplishing any meaningful improvement. If you are guessing or assuming when you correct a page, then there is almost as good a chance that you are moving further from the truth, as closer, and therefore, actually harming quality. If the truth is your goal, the only answer is to invest time on each page. The problem was caused when garbage was allowed in, but that is mostly water under the bridge. The job now is to fix it. In my mind, no sources shows less understanding of a collaborative environment than does bad sources, which at least give you some information for assessing whether your source or theirs is more reliable. --Jrich 02:50, 8 July 2017 (UTC)