Friday, September 10, 2010

We, the Community

Gordon Clarke Tools and community connect to create great power, said Gordon Clarke in his Salt Lake Family History Expo presentation. Clarke is the FamilySearch Affiliates Manager.

“Many hands make light work,” quoted Clarke. “But have you heard, ‘many eyes make good conclusions’?” Community shared trees are one way people can connect. And the new FamilySearch Tree is not the only shared tree in town. Many online trees are available. Clarke highlighted several that also have the ability to exchange data with the new FamilySearch tree.

Clarke made the point throughout his presentation that “FamilySearch is just a drop in the bucket in the world. There is plenty for everyone to do.”

Clarke manages FamilySearch Web Services. Web Services allows multiple websites and desktop programs to interact in a standard way. “Partnering with FamilySearch makes it possible for multiple parties to be compatible,” said Clarke.

The Community Reference Links web service is an emerging FamilySearch technology that allows anyone to contribute information to the online community via links rather than making copies. “If you keep your information in one place and share it via links, then you avoid problems where genealogical data gets copied around without your ability to make corrections,” said Clarke. Photographs don’t have to be copied from one place to another. You access photos where they resides. Community Referencing Links are finding application in cemetery research, photograph and document sharing, and identifying others researching the same ancestors. (Stay tuned for a full report about Community Reference Links from Tim Cross’s BYU Genealogy Conference presentation.)

As Clarke puts its, “We are smarter than me.”


  1. AI, you quote Gordon Clarke: '“Many hands make light work,” quoted Clarke. “But have you heard, ‘many eyes make good conclusions’?”'

    Unfortunately, another way the Community Reference Links can work is installation within a search engine, which then shows Tree results in the manner you described concerning the newFamilySearch "merged" (for an individual, multiple copies of genealogical assertions compiled into one list of all the copies: multiple parents, spouses, sets of children, some identical, some conflicting).

    Then a user of such a search engine could simply click to add assertions to their existing tree, hosted on a site such as (which is set up to add stuff by ez-click).

    More eyes and hands, yes. Better genealogical judgment? Hardly.

    Much depends on what sort of database one begins with. Another factor is user understanding of what "evidence" is. recently began stating that existing trees are "evidence" as to genealogical facts.

  2. I am very excited about Community Reference Links (CRL). I have already started uploading my family photos and documents to Flickr, and, once I have access to New FamilySearch, I was planning to add the PID for each relative as a tag.

    With these CRL, I think perhaps I should make each ancestor a Flickr "set," so that I only have to add one CRL for each person.

    I am so excited.


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