FamilySearch currently uses a double-blind methodology for indexing. (They’ve indicated that this could change for some projects. See “FamilySearch Considers Alternatives to Double-Blind Indexing.”) In double-blind indexing, two indexers independently abstract information from an image of a record. FamilySearch compares the values and if the indexers disagreed in any way on anything on the image, it is routed to a third person called an arbitrator. The arbitrator is something like a trusted, master indexer. As a minimum, the arbitrator must provide values for any mismatched fields. But the arbitrator can review and correct any field, even those for which the indexers agreed. The arbitrator has the responsibility to specify the final values that FamilySearch will subsequently publish.
That responsibility can be scary. Perhaps that is why FamilySearch is falling behind in arbitration. There is a backlog of 6.5 million images, according to FamilySearch’s Spencer Ngatuvai. (See “A Clarion Call for Arbitrators: Worldwide Arbitration Event” on the FamilySearch blog.)
To help remedy this, FamilySearch is sponsoring a “Worldwide Arbitration Event.” The event is being held over eight days, from 1 May 2015 to 8 May 2015. FamilySearch hopes to reduce the backlog during the event by two million.
A side effect of the event may be an increase in the number of arbitrators. Arbitrating doesn’t have to be scary. “Preparation is key,” said Ngatuvai. If you are not currently an arbitrator, start preparing now by reading “How to Become an Arbitrator.” It takes some time to qualify, so now is the time to begin.