Ron Tanner, product manager for FamilySearch Family Tree fielded questions during his presentation, “FamilySearch Family Tree Road Map,” at the 2015 BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. Last week I wrote about his presentation. See “Ron Tanner Discusses Family Tree Road Map at - #BYUFHGC.” Today, I’ll present the questions and answers. These are not exact quotes.
Q: Performance of FamilySearch.org is so bad on Sunday, it makes us want to stop doing genealogy. What are you doing to fix it?
A: The trick is, don’t do all your genealogy on Sunday. Seriously, we don’t want to discourage that. We’re working very hard to get off of New FamilySearch (NFS). Family Tree was designed for 10 times the capacity. Now we are running at 18 times. We are converting every system that we have to a new database and new technologies in order to make the site more responsive, no matter what day you come.
Q: Are you going to preserve the combine page of New FamilySearch?
A: We’re getting rid of NFS.
The usual intent of users of that page arose from the belief that a person miscombined. In reality, the machine did a lot of combining. I apologize for our past sins. People assumed they’d see their past contributions to Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File, so we preloaded them. Since that resulted in lots of duplicates, we ran computer algorithms to combine them. That’s where most of the bad combines happened.
[Another use of the combine page was to see the original information. There is a better way to do that.] What was NFS made up of? The IGI, Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File, and Church [of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] membership records. That information [except membership records] is now sitting under the Records section of FamilySearch.org. We are planning on adding sources for Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File like we’ve done for the IGI.
There are generally two situations causing issues today: someone working from old GEDCOM files or two lines incorrectly coming together. If you find an incorrect ancestor, correct it. If two of you using the same [PID for two] persons, create a new person with your ancestor’s information. Do this only when you find two lines combined.
We will not preserve the combine page of NFS. We will not make a copy of it. It would take 20 terabytes of data if we made it available as another tree.
Q. Are you through changing the colors of the icons?
A. I can neither confirm nor deny that we are done changing anything. Seriously, we wanted the hint icon to pop out. Blue stands out more.
Q. Should we dismiss duplicate hints?
A. When FamilySearch captured records, sometimes they microfilmed a record twice. Accept both so you don’t mess up the hinting algorithm. When you indicate a record is not a match, when actually it is but is just a duplicate, you confuse the system. Specify Not a Match only when it is truly not a match.
[Ed.: Duplicate filming s is probably not the source of the duplicate records. The common scenario is a record that was filmed once, indexed once, but migrated twice. The two migration paths, EASy and ODM, preserved different information. Consequently, FamilySearch decided to publish both until such time as the two could be detected and merged.]
Q. When will there be a new handbook for teachers?
A. They are expensive and must be translated into all FamilySearch languages. We will start to work on something that will be available online. Until then, look for help online.)
Q. My mother died last year. Duplicates of her record keep popping up in the Tree. What should we do when family members die?
A. You have a copy. Mark them deceased. It will become public. A bunch of duplicates can pop up if relatives do the same. Merge them together. By the way, there is an issue you should know about. If there is a member of the Church who has been deceased for some time but whose record doesn’t show up, call support. There has been an issue in Family Tree for the last ten months or so. If the clerk enters death information on their Church membership record, they aren’t marked dead in Family Tree. We are currently rewriting the membership system interaction to move it from NFS to Family Tree.
Q. A lot of work from the past doesn’t have sources. Should we add sources?