Looking for model profiles that make a good use of Sources

Started by Richard Howe Jr. on Monday, December 12, 2011


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12/12/2011 at 9:34 AM

In the profile, I think "About" should be reasonably brief, maybe 3 or 4 paragraphs, and should not be a copy paste from somewhere else. That's my personal view.

I think sources should either be directly referrable on the site or have a link to somewhere not behind a paywall where people can read the original documents.

I am looking for profiles which provide a good combination of a good about summary combined with links to sources that I can use as a best practice or model for my work.

12/12/2011 at 1:05 PM

I recommend Victor Horta as a best practice. Victor Horta

12/12/2011 at 1:09 PM
12/12/2011 at 1:15 PM

And for the use of sources, Hendrik Van der Auwera
The about field is in Dutch

12/12/2011 at 2:27 PM

Thanks, these are really great.

12/13/2011 at 2:01 AM

Richard Howe Jr., agree with your idea about the About Me, not only for copyright reasons where others on the internet did a great job of journalism or used their writings skills to make nice stories that should be read in the original context. We should protect them from stealing information where you can use it also with the geni-feature of linking documents, pdf-files or otherwise, f.i. audio-fragments, youTube-registrations or --and let's stay proud of that common-made platform-- wikipedia-paragrahps.
I have some profiles --have to search for them now-- where I used the About Me as a sort of curriculum vitae paragraph, with very shortly years and events in those years about what happened in their lives and I am very active in developing project-pages on with you can discover how profiles were connected with other people in his/her time or his/her activity's in live, like jobs, administrations or company's they enabled.
So, hopefully in geni it will become good use to use others skills and products in an respectful way. By connecting people in their activity's you can also learn a lot about historie in a personal sense, so that makes it more educational too and maybe nice to use in future research applications.

jMu ~ jeannette Marina u. ~ publisher in the Netherlands and 'addicted' to geni for its future abilities to connect also living people in a common global world.

12/13/2011 at 3:29 AM

I took a look at Victor Horta as one of your best practise examples and was surprised that although you mention 2 wives in the 'about me' he has not got 2 iin his tree. Have you not connected one wife for a reason?

12/13/2011 at 4:53 AM

One issue I have been having with linking people and activities are for events that are significant to one person and not to another. For example, if I were to be invited to have tea with the Queen of England I might possibly be excited to write about that as an "event", but it would not be meaningful to the queen.

One significant event in one of my ancestors' timelines, Nathaniel Covell, II , is when he agreed to serve as an indentured servant for Governor Edward Winslow of the Plymouth Colony. I thought it was cool to add both of them there, in the timeline, until I realized that this "event" was bleeding through to Governor Winslow's timeline. So, I deleted the profile code for him from the Covell timeline and just listed him as "Governor Edward Winslow" in quotes so people would be able to search for the connected person if they cared to.

12/13/2011 at 10:38 AM

Hi Terry; Pauline is his ex-wife. When you look at the tree you'll see her( - - - line). For some reason Geni does not show ex-partners in the main profile. That's why I added her in the 'about me' field. I shall add 'ex wife' behind her name.

12/13/2011 at 11:21 AM

Hold on, I am new to this issue - shouldn't an "ex-wife" appear as a regular-way wife, and then the divorce be added to the event timeline? Similar to people who were married and then a spouse died, and then they possibly remarried?

12/13/2011 at 11:36 AM

It should be... Indeed, marriage and divorce appear in the timeline and the tree, but not in the 'immediate family' section. I'll contact some other curators to find out why

12/13/2011 at 11:47 AM

Thinking about it I believe some people were complaining that their 'ex' appeared on their profile and they didn't like it. I think this is the compromise that Geni came up with.

12/13/2011 at 12:05 PM

Outstanding topic. I'm pretty sure that Private User has mentioned some good examples in the past, but I can't remember them off-hand.

I'm actually okay with copy-and-paste jobs **that don't violate copyright**. I think they're a good starting point, especially when there's no real point in reinventing the wheel. (How many bios of George Washington does the world really need?) In the "About" Cleanup project (http://www.geni.com/projects/About-Cleanup), we've drawn distinctions between adequacy and authorship. I'm okay with adequacy if it means freeing up time to do more genealogical work. Authorship is something we can come back to later on as necessary. But that's just my view on it, and I know some people have a pretty visceral reaction to "Wikipedia jobs." I certainly admire everyone who's able to write up fresh content for every profile as they create them.

I also like that everyone has very different writing styles. Just to give some examples: I like Erica's talent for finding humanizing anecdotes to share, I like Randy Stebbing's warmth and respect, and I like Justin Swanström's historical contextualizing. Getting to know everyone's voice has been fun.

Private User
12/14/2011 at 7:52 AM

One of our visions for the MP programme was to empower users, by curatorial example, in the art of creating compelling biographical sketches.

The beauty of a Geni profile, unlike other sites, is that they can be so layered. By researching and finding documentation, we can build a profile by sourced event. Start with the vitals; add on Projects (i.e., soldier in the War of 1812; blacksmith; immigrant from xxxx country; resident of county; Baptist; Underground Railroad member; property owner; etc.)

From these sourced events we can start to imagine - what was his or her life like? What historic events shaped it? What about their unique personalities and attributes?

I ran across a reminisce about my 2nd great grandfather which said, to paraphrase:

When I was a boy I spent a summer on Old Uncle Henry's farm in Kentucky. One day a visitor on his way to market stopped by at midday, so he was invited to sit down with us for dinner. As usual our houseboy joined us at the table. Th visitor said, "I don't eat with Negroes.". To which Uncle Henry replied, "Then you don't eat with us."

Private User
12/14/2011 at 7:58 AM

Wouter De Boeck thank you for your examples. It reminded me of your beautiful work. I love hyperlinks myself - this is what the Internet is all about.

As Ashley said, reading other people's profiles is a true joy, and very inspirational. We have some smart people here!

12/14/2011 at 9:40 AM

Agree that we don't want to be an offshoot of Wikipedia, however we curators have a fairly extensive job getting the big tree straightened out so may not be overly meticulous about the 'overview'. Personally, for now, I've tended to add a quote mainly from Medlands, occasionally from Wikipedia or elsewhere giving the link as well. I try to ensure that there aren't more than one of the same entry in an MP but that's as far as I'm going for now. Eventually we'll be freed up sufficiently to put more care into composing unique overviews.Meanwhile one hopes that other users may take up the gauntlet.

12/14/2011 at 10:48 AM

So in essence we are all part of the "big tree" meta-project, trying to lay down the nodes (family relationship, confirm birth, death, etc.), with polishing to come later on? Selfishly I may desire to polish one or another ancestor of my own, but I am happy to move away from that emphasis for the time being if people would rather I add value in working on the big tree and its issues first. I would be happy to focus on big tree first, if that's what the crowd thinks is more useful - I am too new to this to be invested either way.

12/14/2011 at 1:18 PM

Richard, another profile for you: Peter Van der Auwera

No MP , just a family member who went from Belgium to CA . So no Wiki stuff ;-) but I spent a lot of time searching in (digital) newspapers ... I added some events to his timeline, including sources (see 1930 - 1931) and I even added a link to Google Street View. Tomorrow I hope to find his original birth certificate ...

Private User thanks !

12/14/2011 at 3:40 PM

I didn't think of street view before, that's a good idea. I saw a grave photo on Peter Van der Auwera, did you take that yourself? I'm asking because I have seen some grave photos on find-a-grave.com for some of my profiles and I'm wondering if I can use the photos if I give them attribution.

12/14/2011 at 3:45 PM

@Richard, I would not suggest that anyone neglect their own tree and take up enriching the 'Big Tree' just if someone felt they could improve the profiles they come across in the big tree they should feel ok about making such a contribution and excusiing myself, as a curator, for not having produced perfect MPs.(yet)

12/14/2011 at 4:02 PM

OK, I am probably more efficient on working on my corner of the tree anyway, through my contacts.

12/14/2011 at 6:19 PM

I agree with Terry Jackson (Switzer), people should be adding their family leaves first and looking to connect them as soon as possible to the Big Tree. I'm amazed at how much work even families who have very focused several people working on them still have remaining to do. I like what my cousin Fay Baldwin is doing, building the more recent branches of the Baldwin tree.

12/14/2011 at 11:46 PM

Richard Howe Jr. I got that picture from Find-A-Grave, but I've informed the contributor and gave him additional information about Peter (which he added to Find-a-Grave). A real win-win situation.

Private User
12/15/2011 at 12:26 AM

I suggest people mix it up, actually. I try and build out my direct lines, most of all - I have a vested interest - but it can get frustrating to be buried in obscurity.:). So then I work on more public figures, especially writers I admire, and often by collaborating in a Project. My most recent effort is for Stephen Benét and this was immensely satisfying. His family leads in all kinds of interesting directions.

12/15/2011 at 5:24 AM

Thanks Hatte: And before Mike Stangel pops in to say that the Mormons call each other brother and sister, in reponse to your calling me cousin....we ARE actual cousins (9th, but cousins).

Seems to me that by working to close the gaps we are providing any new people with a closer route to become part of the tree and allow them a better chance to 'connect to the BIG tree' without having to wait till they get into the thick of things....because, to tell the truth, what start as minor errors get compounded by the time a lot of the people get to heavy traffic(and I do NOT discount myself, and my research).

It took an astute collaborator to find a goof in my tree (a woman having my ancestor tho she was 68 years old at the time....)....I had somehow skipped a whole generation.....imagine the mess I would have created if I hadn't taken THAT 'fall back and regroup' step...and discovered the error. At that point in time I had his help in inserting the missing 'link' without compromising the rest of the data (which was still valid).... instead of taking the position that I was super-human and couldn't have POSSIBLY have made a mistake....

Point is, a good number of sources STOP mid 1800's (perhaps a little later) but we tend to forget that the 1800's were OVER 200 years back....

AND, while we tend to think of OUR family tree as OURS, it does; before long, involve others we also have a connection to......

And I have long said, and my current work has proven, the majority of people jut go straight UP their trees. Oh, they may LIST the siblings...but they don't WORK them.....that is why I have encountered VERY LITTLE traffic when I work those siblings.....and believe me, there are some pretty neat people who deserve their own prominent place in history.....QUITE a few who deservedly earned their own MP status....finally!

Like Erica, I sometimes find people (in my own or in other peoples trees) that pique my interest...so I explore them.....it is fun finding a 'gem' in the ruff.......or adding a factoid that gives them more 'oomphf' (sp)

And, if they reside closer to someone else, but still a relative of mine....then I find nothing wrong in giving them the kudoos they deserve....

So I work a LOT toward the present....it can NOT be that the only interesting people were born pre-1800.

And we now have the TOOLS to fill in the gaps (census data, newspaper resports, find-a-grave, marriage records, etc)...that are THERE waiting to 'see the light of day.'....

We lose SO much when we close up....and yes, it does sometimes shake things up.....(my great grandfather was ..divorced.....and that was info I was NOT privvy to; in research done by my own father (who worked the trees for nigh onto 50 years)....it WASN'T included because it was some sort of 'black mark' on our family......or whatever....

Add to that the fact that an Aunt may not have actually married a cousin's father....and you can see that our forefathers/foremother's actually were not the saints we sometimes wish they were.....

But I'll still take them 'warts and all.'

Sorry if some feathers get ruffled....my own included....but a 'fact is a fact' and if you find a black sheep....you might as well enter them....and, if you feel so inclined,.actually enter data that reflects that status...if may explain more than you think about WHO your relatives were and WHY they moved, or didn't talk about "Uncle Fred" or any other things that are your family's history....and how STRONG they were to have 'weathered the storm.'

I think I have said enough for now....I surely didn't have a town named after me, I've invented nothing, created nothing, fought in no notable battles, have no particular quirk to make me a 'person of interest' ,nor have any particular claim to fame on a personal level.....BUT if I can open the doors to people searching for their own, sometimes impressive, sometimes depressing, history....then I have done SOMETHING.

Private User
12/15/2011 at 8:32 AM

Amen, Faye!

Richard said, "One significant event in one of my ancestors' timelines, Nathaniel Covell, II , is when he agreed to serve as an indentured servant for Governor Edward Winslow of the Plymouth Colony. I thought it was cool to add both of them there, in the timeline, until I realized that this "event" was bleeding through to Governor Winslow's timeline."

Richard, when you edit timeline events you have the ability to add or delete the people involved. Another option for you would have been to simply remove Governor Winslow... ;-)

12/15/2011 at 1:28 PM
Private User
1/26/2012 at 9:50 PM

I am a little surprised that none of the "Model Profiles" using Sources used the ability to fill in the Field (or area) that shows when using Add a Source, is labelled "Note", which shows under the Citation Column. I think it useful, in this spot, to put the Value I am using a Source to document.

For example, you may have his birthdate as 1/12/1906 and use Geni's Source function to use a Document (in Media) as a Source for this. If you use "Add Source" and just check Date of Birth and also put "1/12/1906" in the Note, then it will always be clear to folks that this document was documenting that his birth was "1/12/1906" -- even if the date of birth on the Profile is changed to some other value (thru a merge or a purposeful edit or a goof). [Note: under "Value" they put the Value currently on his Profile - it will change if that value on the profile changes]

Among other places, I am using this Note/Citation for one of my GreatGrandmothers - documents for marriages of two of her children, births for two others each claim to give her Maiden Name -- four totally different last names. This way I can easily look to see, "what were those again?" as well as which document had which value.

Private User
1/27/2012 at 8:30 AM


Thank you for describing your use of the citation field in sources. I admit I've never done it, and I would love an example to follow, if anyone has a public profile to share.

1/27/2012 at 5:33 PM


When Louis says in her description "in the Note" I think she is referring to the documents "Description" field. For example on this document's description you'll see the text reads "...Utah Death Certificates, 1904-1956 for Margarett Peirce Young. Death Date: 16 Jan 1907
Death Place: Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah. Retrieved from..." My description also also includes a handy link to where the image file can be found on the internet. Even though I've uploaded a exact copy of the image to geni its always nice to link back to the original file. So even if someone erroneously edits her death date on the profile at least the attached sources note still has the correct date ...that is unless someone also goes to the trouble of also editing that also which is unlikely.


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