Jerry, You have outlined one of the things I have against Evidence Explained. It creates a lot of “templates” or use cases, and it can be very hard to decide. Don’t get me wrong, EE is very good to use and understand the importance of sourcing the right stuff, but can be overwhelming.
I agree. I do use Evidence Explained all the time, but it's 1200 pages long. That's just too many pages and it's totally overwhelming.
There is also something else wrong with Evidence Explained that I find hard to describe in general. I can only describe it by specific examples. For example, you will search in vain how to cite obituaries anywhere in those 1200 pages. Rather, you will find how to cite newspaper articles and you are expected to cite an obituary as a special case of a newspaper article. These days, obituaries sometimes only appear on a funeral home Web site and sometimes never appear as newspaper articles. So citing obituaries using the newspaper article model sometimes doesn't work. But to me the deeper issue is that it is the obituariness of obituaries that is important, not the newspaper articleness. In contrast, Evidence! is an earlier and much briefer version of Evidence Explained, and Evidence! does explain how to cite obituaries as obituaries. So I think there is something about what the true essence of evidence is that I think that Evidence! gets right that Evidence Explained gets wrong. I suspect that if this mysterious essence of sources could be gotten at accurately, that a comprehensive guide could be more like 100 to 200 pages than 1200 pages. Indeed, in a certain sense I'm describing Evidence! rather than Evidence Explained.
For example, I'm not persuaded that Web sites are ever sources. I'm not sure what they are exactly, but it seems to me that Web sites are more like repositories than they are like sources and that the underlying database or record set on the Web site is the actual source. So it may not make much sense to describe how to cite Web sites as sources. Rather, it might make more sense to describe Web sites as repositories.