Monday, February 28, 2011

NFS Public Release Begins

FamilySearch“In February 2011, we’ve invited a limited number of public users to begin testing public access to the new FamilySearch [Family Tree] website,” disclosed FamilySearch. “These valued testers will help us make sure the system can handle the increased load.” Don’t bother begging; FamilySearch has already selected the testers.

The mid-quarterly release of the New FamilySearch Tree (NFS) last week brought this positive news to members of the public waiting for access. Alert Insider reader, J.O., alerted me to the announcement.

The title of the document, “What’s New in the New FamilySearch Website,” deserves some razzing. Technically, is no longer the newest FamilySearch website. The new FamilySearch website is The document should be titled “What’s New in the Website.” If you insist that the February release makes it “new,” then I would expect the document title to be: “What’s New in the New website.” But I digress…

All Addresses and Phone Numbers Hidden

FamilySearch reset all user preferences to hide addresses and phone numbers. I suppose this was done for those users that did not realize that the information would one day be visible to anyone. Users who desire to make their addresses or phone numbers visible need to click “Update My Profile and Preferences” on the home page and set the preferences as desired.

Visibility of e-mail addresses was not changed.

Adapting to a Public System

In preparation for release to the general public, FamilySearch has adapted NFS to comply with policies of its sponsor, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Information about ceremonies performed in Church temples will be available only to Church members. Members should not discuss temple ordinances in discussion groups.

“Do not use the system to proselyte,” said FamilySearch. “Be courteous and inclusive.” (The counsel to be inclusive echoes that of Church leader, M. Russell Ballard, in a talk titled the “Doctrine of Inclusion.” But I digress…)

Differences Faced by the General Public

The general public will have a slightly different user experience than members of the Church. NFS automatically started building a tree for Church members by pulling information from the user’s Church records. If subsequent generations were members, a new user’s tree might be populated for several generations.

Members of the general public will need to enter the most basic of information about themselves and living ancestors, including their own gender. Then they will begin the painful process of identifying what ancestors can be added to the tree via GEDCOM, and which must be linked to existing tree residents.

You few—you lucky few—can then complain with us, what woes we experience in NFS this day.

    He that outlives NFS, and his data comes safe to SCOE 
    (the future version of NFS with all the kinks worked out),
    Will stand a tip-toe when NFS gets a real name,
    And rouse him at the old name, ‘NFS.’
    He that shall live through NFS this day, and see SCOE in old age,
    Will yearly at NGS feast his friends, and say, ‘I used NFS.’
    Then will he strip his pedigree and show his scars,
    And say 'These wounds I had in NFS.’
    Old genealogists forget; yet he’ll remember, with advantages,
    What feats he accomplishes in NFS this day. Then shall we
    Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
    This story shall the old genealogist teach the young;
    And NGS shall ne'er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remembered.

    And genealogists now-a-desktop
    Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not using NFS,
    And hold their genealihoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us in NFS this day.


  1. What?! Please tell me that this is only for "general public" users who choose to try to link into the unified tree....
    "Members of the general public will need to enter the most basic of information about themselves and living ancestors...."

    I know that FamSearch, under whatever new name, looks to build a unified tree. So do a lot of places without the size, reach, and clout of FS. But I haven't seen hints of needing to provide any info on living people prior to this.

    Will this also apply to 'general public' users who want to access data? Or only those who choose to dive into the unified tree?

    I can see the backlash building just beyond the horizon, like a tsunami....

  2. Loved the poetic rewrite, by the way. Fittin'.

  3. Thanks AI. I agree about the fun poetry. It is not all worked out yet, but it is a historic step in genealogy. I have been loving it since 2008 where I live.

    If I understand, you were worried about the general public having to enter info on the living, including themselves?

    I don't know how it will work later, but right now I had to enter my living grandmom's in order to link their lines to myself on the pedigree view for example. No one (not even my parents) can see what I entered on living people. nFS does not allow living people searches and the data on living people can only be seen by those who enter it.
    It is a down side right now where it is not a good site to share a lving tree with cousins because of that, but perhaps later it will allow you to invite specific people to see the living people you uploaded like other tree sites do. We can only wait and see. But overall I simply wanted you to know nFS is very careful not to share stuff on living people.

  4. Slow down, Linda S. If you didn't enter the "most basic" of information on yourself and parents, (if living), you could never link yourself to anyone else. (Here I am! Plug me in to the big tree in the correct place according to my identity. Who am I, you ask? I'm not telling you!)

  5. I can't seem to get any posts from your website via RSS sinc 21 Feb - I have deleted the Google gadget and tried re-subscribing ... nothing. What am I doing wrong?! I've been avidly following your Family Search posts!

  6. I raced over to new family search. I tred to read thu article, it seemed to say if you cain't remember yur username undt password to re register. When I dun that it said may name an email was already there and I had to change my first and last name and my email address. How in the world do I do that?? I really feel anonymus now!?!?

  7. Thanks, Anonymous.

    That's the way I initially figured it would be, but I thought that I perhaps I had missed something, with the way the thing was worded in the Insider about 'general public users'. [No complaints, Insider. You're terrific.]

    There are so many shifting bits and changes in the whole complicated FS changeover. I stopped paying much attention, waiting to see what ended up being real.

    Only for those who want to link into the unified tree. That works. Maybe later, when the only living person involved is me....

  8. That is a great adaptation of Henry V's St. Crispen's Day Speech. Love it.


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