Monday, July 13, 2015

Monday Mailbox: On the Road

The Ancestry Insider's Monday Mailbox

Dear Ancestry Insider,

My Price line is a mess. A lot of the reason is the SOURCE created records.

But not really ...  

It seemed to instead be just a jumble of three or four lines into one ... with little evidence of why they added these records.

Can you explain this?

I assume, faced with so many lines without ANY sources attached, this was an attempt to add some with a few computer keystrokes.

I fear the computer guys rule, and hope the new director sees that.

I was wondering if you have a better understanding of this mess ...

THANKS for your explanations,

Dear Kath,

I’m afraid I can’t speak to your particular mess, but I can speak generally.

I believe a little of the combined lines issue is a hold-over from Ancestral File, where it appeared to me that computer algorithms were used aggressively to combine four-generation submissions into one, single tree. My experience was that Ancestral File was, at least initially, pretty messy. Over the years, I think the most egregious problems were corrected. But I think problems still abound and Ancestral File was used as one basis for the New FamilySearch tree (NFS).

I understand that when Ancestral File was combined with other sources to create NFS, the computer guys were extremely conservative, combining persons only when information was exactly the same. I have been told that the messiness in FamilySearch Family Tree is a result of inappropriate combines made by people.

NFS became the FamilySearch Family Tree, so it contains problems from, but also corrections to, Ancestral File and NFS. Family Tree also contains the sources that people added to NFS. These are titled “Legacy NFS Source.” These were not created by computer guys, although they contain some computer generated gibberish: “Migrated from user-supplied source citation: urn:familysearch:source:2138860571.”

I can’t speak to our new director’s propensity to recognize and correct the issues associated with your messy Price line. At his first RootsTech conference Dennis Brimhall adapted an old joke, telling us that “a few weeks ago I couldn’t spell genealogist and now I are one.” I understand that since then Dennis has taken genealogy classes from the BYU Idaho family history degree program and has gained an appreciation for some of the challenges of post-chasm genealogy.

My theory is that by the time a directory understands the challenges of post-chasm genealogy, they move on and we start a new cycle. My theory could be completely wrong. It doesn’t come from insider knowledge. It comes from being an outsider watching FamilySearch make similar mistakes over and over for decades.

Years ago, contributors made paper submissions to FamilySearch (and its predecessors):

  • Sources contributors provided in paper submissions to the IGI were not keyed into the computer.
  • Sources in paper submissions to the Ancestral File were not keyed into the computer.

Later, contributors made GEDCOM submissions:

  • Sources in GEDCOM (TempleReady) submissions to the IGI were stripped out before publication.
  • Sources in GEDCOM submissions to the Ancestral File were stripped out before publication.

Now there is today.

  • FamilySearch doesn’t consistently have indexers key in source information from genealogy records.
  • FamilySearch doesn’t provide coverage tables showing what record volumes are contained in an online record collection. Indeed, since source information is not consistently keyed, they can’t provide them.
  • Contributors to Pedigree Resource File agreed to have their names and contact information revealed. FamilySearch used to do it. Today, it doesn’t.
  • IGI (TempleReady) submitters could specify whether or not their names and contact information was revealed. Today, FamilySearch ignores their election.
  • FamilySearch doesn’t capture adequate source documentation from eye witnesses.
  • FamilySearch doesn’t allow users to differentiate between manuscript and published sources in their source citations.

The new FamilySearch director, Steve Rockwood, is an internal choice. Perhaps he’s more familiar with post-chasm genealogy.

---The Ancestry Insider

Dear Readers,

You may recall that I write this column independent of my employer, FamilySearch. That necessitates writing entirely on my own time. I further restrict my writing to weekends so as to not intrude on other activities in my life.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend a little time with distant relatives and availed myself entirely in that pursuit. That’s good news for you, as I will not invade your time further this week.

I look forward to corresponding with you again next week.

---The Ancestry Insider

1 comment:

  1. A-Insider,
    I get tones of email. Don't feel bad that you're taking time off for relatives.
    Personally, I prefer the news regarding Ancestry, FamilySearch, and genealogical innovations. For example, Don Anderson leaving FamilySearch was a huge thing for me. I'm less interested in the serendipity stories. I like them but I also have difficulty keeping up with e-mail. I wouldn't mind at all if your newsletter didn't hit the internet EVFRY


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