I don’t know how I missed this, but FamilySearch recently talked about alternatives it is considering to the double-blind indexing currently employed by FamilySearch Indexing.1 Currently, two indexers independently key the contents of a record. If there are differences, the record is sent to a third person—an arbitrator—who indexes the record after viewing the information provided by the two indexers.
Katie Gale, FamilySearch spokesperson, gave four alternatives:
- For easy to index records, such as typewritten records, FamilySearch might employ single keying. Results would be audited and if the quality dropped below some threshold, peer review or arbitration would be added. “Research shows that using this process for easy projects produces an index of comparable quality to the traditional double-key-plus-arbitration process with less than half the work,” wrote Gale.
- FamilySearch might use single keying with review. After indexing, a second, more experienced indexer will review the results. If he disagrees, he specifies what he thinks the information should be. Then, instead of sending the two values to an arbitrator, both values are saved. When published, the record could be found by searching for either value.
- For easy to index fields, FamilySearch might single key particular fields. For example, indexers rarely disagree when indexing a sex field. Even when applied to just a few fields, when millions of records are involved, single keying yields substantial savings.
- FamilySearch might allow exceptional indexers to index without second keying and without arbitration. I don’t wish to pat myself on the back, but I used to spend considerable time researching hard to read names. I’d look at the neighbors, find the neighborhood in another record set, and identify the illegible name. Then it hit me: the arbitrator wasn’t going to put in the same level of effort. My hard work was as likely to be discarded, as accepted by the arbitrator. “As volunteers gain significant experience and expertise, they sometimes reach a point where review or arbitration of their work actually increases the likelihood of introducing errors,” wrote Gale. (Italics in the original.) Audits would be employed to ensure quality.
Look for these advanced methods when FamilySearch releases its new indexing system, sometime next year.
1. Katie Gale, “Magnifying Volunteers’ Gifts: A Progress Report,” FamilySearch [Blog], 4 August 2014 (https://familysearch.org/blog/en/magnifying-volunteers-gifts-progress-report/ : accessed 29 November 2014).
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