For weeks I have shared a number of examples of how to write reason statements for the sources you discover on FamilySearch.org. As this is the only website that requires you to add statements when you link a source, I have only focused on this website. Additionally, I spend a lot of time teaching beginning family historians how to use this site and the number one question they have is ‘What do I write in the box.”
Yet if I showed such a long reason statement to a new family historian, they will assume that all sources need statements of this length. The next thing that happens is they shut down their efforts to join the ranks of researchers. This would be such a tragedy.
On this blog and in training sessions, I focus on keeping reason statements as simple as possible while still leaving a clear reason why a source was attached to a relative on the family tree.
If someone finds that disturbing, I just have to agree to have differing opinions. I’d rather have a brief but reasonable recording of someone’s actions with regards to these records from a larger pool of participants than a small group of researchers and their lengthy proof statements.
Will this result in mistakes and poor connections in the tree? Yes, but at least we can see a reason why those connections were made even if the reasoning is flawed.
But, as newbies learn to improve upon their statements, they will know when a longer statement is indeed warranted. They will eventually recognize that many beginner-level situations only need a shorter statement is the norm but will need to write longer statements when necessary.