[APG Public List] place names

LBoswell laboswell at rogers.com
Wed Oct 27 10:02:46 MDT 2010

Again, they're used in conjunction with the place names and the usual 
accompanying explanations.  They just don't sit there on their own!  Added 
on as a way to allow us to employ other means of locating and understanding 
a named location, but used alongside other more traditional naming 

I think there's a real misunderstanding of how coordinates could be 
employed.  They aren't some sort of be-all and end-all, not the only 
identifier used for a place in a genealogical record.  They simply translate 
the named location into at least an approximate location and they would 
allow various name changes to be catalogued under the same coordinates.

Used intelligently they offer a wide range of possibilities that names alone 
cannot match

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Terry Reigel
  To: apgpubliclist
  Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 11:44 AM
  Subject: Re: [APG Public List] place names

  Stephen Danko wrote:
  > GPS coordinates can be specified so that they represent
  > either a large general area or a spot the size of a
  > pinpoint.  It's all in how many significant figures one
  > lists in the coordinates.

  Your point makes perfect logical sense, Stephen. But to me the issue is 
how to get those reading those coordinates to understand the difference 
between high and low precision figures? If a reader plugs the coordinates 
into an a mapping service or application, as far as I know, there is no 
difference in result between high and low precision data. A very precise 
spot is identified, even though the actual coordinates may be very 

  So if one uses coordinates to define a general area it falls upon the 
writer to communicate to the reader that the coordinates are approximate, or 
represent the center or an area, etc., as the case may be. It seems to me 
that to rely on including fewer significant digits alone risks misleading 
the reader.

  Stephen wrote in a later message:

  > ... So, how do we cite sources for these coordinates?
  > Should the precision of the measurement be specified in
  > the source, in the coordinate itself, or in a note?  The
  > fields for coordinates in Family Tree Maker 2011 include
  > no provision for recording precision and, as far as I can
  > tell, include no provision for recording a source
  > citation or a note for the coordinates.

  I'm not familiar with other programs, but in TMG the coordinates field is 
just one of several place fields, all of which can be cited along with the 
other fields. So a user can include a citation to the source of the 
coordinates, and mention in the Citation Detail any note about the precision 
of the measurement, and/or in the case of larger areas, how the coordinates 
relate to the area being described.

  One may be able include some indication (other then fewer significant 
digits) in the data field, if the program doesn't preclude that by editing 
the values entered. But doing so is likely to disable automatic plotting 
features that may be depending on that data. For example, TMG will let you 
include any text you like in the coordinates field (after warning you that 
the data is not in an expected format) but doing so will likely cause both 
TMG's own mapping feature and that of the companion website-building program 
Second Site to fail.

  Terry Reigel 
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