“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, new.familysearch.org is no longer the newest FamilySearch website. The new FamilySearch website is www.familysearch.org. The document should be titled “What’s New in the New.FamilySearch.org 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 New.FamilySearch.org 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.