#113 website as source

Carol Hall

When we do genealogical research, the only sources we
can legitamately cite are those we have directly
referenced ourselves. The source of all information in a
gedcom "clipped" through phpGedView is the website
where the original gedcom is located.

I would love to see an option of replacing all the source
notations in any downloaded gedcom with the
information about the site, including the date

This is a truly superb script!!!


  • John Finlay

    John Finlay - 2003-11-10

    Logged In: YES

    I'm afraid you have struck a nerve with this one. So I may
    get up on a soapbox and rant for a while. Please pardon me
    if I become too passionate.

    As a reseacher, I am going to disagree with you on this
    point. I want to be able to follow the trail someone else used
    to find the information about a person otherwise the
    information is unrealiable and must be researched again.

    One of the main reasons why I made PhpGedView is to share
    genealogical research done by one person with others on the
    Internet. If you don't share the research along with the data
    then the data becomes untrustworthy and must be verified
    again and again and again by the next researcher who comes

    If I look in the census and properly cite the census record,
    then there is no reason for you to later go and look in the
    census yourself unless you want to glean further information
    from the source that you think was left out. Or you don't
    believe my research and want to verify it yourself. Both are
    valid reasons to go back to the original source and verify the
    information. If you don't have the source then you can't go

    The greatest flaw in genealogical computing at this time is
    not in the GEDCOM standard, the program you use to track it,
    or the inconsistency caused by different programs. It is the
    schism between source and fact in the distribution of
    genealogical data. A fact is only a fact when it has a source
    attached to it. Any genealogical data that someone else
    shares is degraded when the sources are filtered out.

    For these reasons I will not remove the sources attached by
    other researchers. They are essential to the integrity of the

    Now it is also rude, fraudulent, and plagiarism to copy
    somebody else's research and claim it as your own. This is
    also a big problem in Genealogy and brings me to another
    point of why I think it would be a big mistake to strip out the
    sources. If you take my data, strip out my research, and
    then research it again to claim it as your own, in the
    academic world it would be called plagiarism. Even though
    you did your own research to verify the data, by taking out
    my research you have plagiarized it. In the genealogy world
    we researchers plagiarize all of the time and if we ever want
    to be taken seriously by the rest of the academic research
    community this has to stop.

    By the same argument, I think it is a very good idea to add a
    source to every person and family, and a note to every
    source, that cites the PhpGedView website where you got
    the information. But it has to be useful. I hate the sources
    that Ancestral file, IGI, and others automatically create
    because they are of no value other that to clutter things up.
    They only say "AncestralFile" (not that anything in ancestral
    file is believable anymore anyway) with no citation, no link,
    no way to follow the trail once you get back to ancestral file.

    I will create a "PhpGedView Website" source that has a link
    back to the main PhpGedView website. Every individual will
    cite this source and their citation will have a link to their
    individual page in the PhpGedView website. Families will link
    to the family page in PhpGedView. Since sources cannot
    have sources, I will add a note to each source that links to
    the source page in PhpGedView

    The PhpGedView source itself will need author and publisher
    information and that will need to be entered in on the
    configuration screen.

    This added quite a bit of work for me to do ;-) But it is a
    high priority for me so I will make sure the next version
    doesn't come out with out it.


  • John Finlay

    John Finlay - 2003-11-10
    • priority: 5 --> 9
    • assigned_to: nobody --> yalnifj
  • Carol Hall

    Carol Hall - 2003-11-10

    Logged In: YES

    I obviously, although respectfully, disagree. When I use a
    genealogy book, say [grabbing one off the shelf for an
    example] Susan Roser's _Mayflower Increasings_ , and I use
    data from there -- Shubael Howland's birth date was 30 Sep
    1672 -- I use _Mayflower Increasings_ as my source. Roser
    used the Mayflower Descendant as her source. We would
    have to go to the MD to find where they got the information
    and so on. I consider my website as valid a source as Roser's

    You said, "If you don't have the source then you can't go
    back." That's very true. The source would be listed on my
    website for anyone to go back and look at, just as the
    Mayflower Descendant information is available in Roser's book.

    My apology for arousing your ire in such a way. Please don't
    make any changes to the script on my account if you weren't
    already intending to do so.

  • Peter Pluntke

    Peter Pluntke - 2003-11-10

    Logged In: YES

    Isn't it a job of the importing software?
    At least the program I use (Ages) adds a source "taken from
    filename.ged" to all imported files' persons.
    The original sources are still there but I can easily see
    who gave me that information and where he did get it from.
    Of course I also can filter the whole dataset for the source
    "taken from filename.ged" to see, what I got from the sender.
    (At least if I change the filename to sender.ged or sth.
    like that before importing it. The filename "gedfile" would
    not be very helpful here.)
    .... just a thought....


  • John Finlay

    John Finlay - 2003-11-10

    Logged In: YES

    I can see your point. But, further taking your example, if I
    now download Shubael Howland from your site and the only
    source for all of the information on Shubael Howland is your
    website and then my cousin comes along and downloads
    Shubael Howland from my website, the source for your
    website would be gone and now it is my website and there
    are now three Shubael Howland's out there:
    1. on your site with a source to _Mayflower Increasings_
    2. on my site with a source to your site
    3. on my cousins site with a source to my site.

    The three copies of the person are not equal. I would view
    your's as the most valuable because it is the closest to the
    original source _Mayflower Decendant_. Now suppose a
    fourth party comes along and searches for Shubael Howland
    to publish in their book and they source my cousin's site that
    he decides to take down and no longer publish. The trail is
    broken and everyone who comes across that published book
    will not be able to find the original source. Or even worse, if
    I take down my site, or worse still you take down your site.
    This is a problem with Internet publishing :-( and citing
    websites as a sources.

    Anyway, as you can tell I have some strong feelings about
    proper genealogy research, especially strong considering that
    I am a programmer ;-) I can see your points and respect
    your opinions and I can see that we agree on most of items
    related to properly citing your sources. I hope that I haven't
    offended you.

    I really do appreciate your suggestion. I think that clippings
    downloaded through the clippings cart should have a source
    citation back to the site they were downloaded from and
    because of my strong feelings about proper genealogy
    research I am going to make it a high priority for the next


  • John Finlay

    John Finlay - 2003-11-10

    Logged In: YES

    Hi Peter,

    I personally don't find, "Imported from Gedcom 'somefile.ged'
    on 1 Jan 2003" a very useful source for following the trail and
    I think it would be very useful if every individual downloaded
    from a PhpGedView website had a link to the individual.php
    page www.yoursite.com/phpgedview/individual.php?pid=I100
    then they easily synchronize their data with yours in the
    future. This will be helpful for my plans to make PhpGedView
    more of a collaboration tool that allows people to submit
    updates back to you saying "I found so-and-so's parents in
    this source. Do you want to add it to your site?"


  • Carol Hall

    Carol Hall - 2003-11-11

    Logged In: YES

    Is there any way that the current sources -- the ones I have
    used in my own research -- could be added as notes? I'm only
    just now learning php, so I don't know how difficult that
    would be. It could end up that (using your example) your
    cousin's gedcom would have a real "provenance" of the
    sources, while being very clear that he got the information
    from your website. For me, this is important both as a site
    owner and a site visitor.

  • John Finlay

    John Finlay - 2003-11-13

    Logged In: YES

    Switching the Sources to Notes would require a lot of gedcom
    work to take all of the source tags and format them for a

    I have added a note to each source that says where the
    orignal source came from. I've also added an additional
    source to every individual and family that states where the
    data was downloaded from and includes a link to the
    individual.php page on the site.

    This has been included as part of version 2.60. You can
    download a clipping from my site if you like to see how it


  • John Finlay

    John Finlay - 2003-11-13
    • status: open --> open-fixed
  • John Finlay

    John Finlay - 2003-11-14
    • status: open-fixed --> closed-fixed

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