Saturday, May 24, 2008

The wrong gender stays in New FamilySearch

The Family: A Proclamation to the World
The Family: A Proclamation to
the World
warns of "calamities
foretold by ancient and modern
prophets." © 1995, IRI.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church) hold traditional views regarding gender and families. In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, Church leaders teach that "gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose."

It may come as a surprise, then, that there are sometimes good reasons for records in New FamilySearch to indicate the wrong gender.

There are several articles in the Help Center of New FamilySearch telling patrons how to deal with records containing gender problems:

  • Document ID 102699: new FamilySearch: Combining siblings when one has an unknown gender
  • Document ID 102711: How to combine people who are listed as both male and female or as unknown

  • FAQ ID 284faq0480: What can I do to change an individual's gender?
  • Document ID 102189: I can't add or edit unknown gender on an individual I entered into the new FamilySearch
  • Document ID 101995: new FamilySearch: How to change an incorrect gender
  • Document ID 103267: Same child shows up twice or more in the same family, once with the wrong gender

Briefly, as is generally the case in New FamilySearch (NFS), you can correct information you contribute, you can ask other contributors to correct mistakes when contact information is available, you can dispute incorrect information and you can create new records with proper information where none yet exists. Unlike other information in NFS, FamilySearch Support solicits requests to correct the gender (see doc. ID 101995). Perhaps this exception reflects the Church's desire to remove entries from temple records for work done under the wrong gender.

It was presumably in response to such a request that Terry Mason received an interesting response from Support that is, as of yet, not reflected in the FamilySearch Help Center.

The record for _______ showing the incorrect gender was submitted by more than one individual, including a submission for temple ordinance work. This ordinance work is invalid but in order to prevent anyone else from submitting the name with the wrong gender and duplicating the ordinance work, the incorrect record will remain in New FamilySearch. By adding a dispute to the record with the incorrect gender it indicates to others that the information is wrong. We hope this explanation will help you understand the reason the records with the incorrect gender will remain in New FamilySearch.

For those hoping to make New FamilySearch a perfect reflection of reality, this policy may appear to be an unpleasant mistake. But, in fact, this too is a general policy concerning incorrect information. Where careful researchers are aware of widespread misinformation, they may wish to proactively enter such information into New FamilySearch and dispute their own contribution, giving evidence that the information is incorrect and directing others to the correct information.

It's counter-intuitive, but keeping wrong information in New FamilySearch can be the right thing to do.

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