Could you report on the recent dumping of duplicate records into the FamilySearch Family Tree? Where did they come from? Why can't we merge them? Why does FamilySearch continue to dump duplicate data into a tree while at the same time begging us to stop doing the same?
In case you're wondering what I'm talking about, see https://getsatisfaction.com/familysearch/topics/barrage-of-records-attributed-to-lds-membership-creating-problematic-situations [titled “Barrage of Records Attributed to LDS Membership Creating Problematic Situations”] and other issues linked in the comments.
Some say the data came from Ancestral File or other data sets FamilySearch has (and that they might dump even more duplicate data). I don't understand why they would keep dumping that into nFS. I thought nFS was pre-populated with that data from the beginning?
Please enlighten us.
PS. It would also be nice to know when nFS is really going to die. It's been slated to be disconnected "in the next 6-12 months" for years now.
I’ve searched around and can’t find any public comment by FamilySearch about the events you’re referring to. But I think I can answer your question with information FamilySearch has previously made public.
First, it helps to understand some history.
The New FamilySearch tree (NFS) had a unique, advanced architecture. The architecture allowed you to extract information about a person from an historical record. That extract was called an inner person. The architecture allowed these historical extracts to be combined into what was called an outer person. Brilliant architecture: one inner person per historical record extract, one outer person per historical person. Inner persons could be compared and contrasted as required in the genealogical proof standard before reaching a conclusion. It was both a research tree and a conclusion tree.
Special inner persons were created and linked to records in a database kept by the Membership Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (These database records are not membership records, although they are commonly called that. But I digress…) When changes are made to that database, the changes are reflected in the inner person. It is as though you are looking at a church record, glance away, and the writing has changed when you look back. The effects of this unusual source behavior are mitigated by the separation of inner and outer persons.
While the NFS architecture was brilliant, the implementation was not. FamilySearch didn’t distinguish between inner and outer persons in the user interface. They created inner persons from low-quality records like Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource Files. They didn’t require sources in an architecture that required sources (how do you create an inner person when there is no source to extract?), so they had to blur the distinction between inner and outer persons. Everything went downhill from there. The implementation of NFS proved unstable.
FamilySearch decided to abandon it in favor of a more traditional conclusion tree, FamilySearch Family Tree. There are no inner persons. Sources are handled in the usual way as attachments.
Ron Tanner talks about replacing an airplane’s engine while inflight. The analogy should be extended. FamilySearch has rebuilt the entire aircraft inflight, with the final step being the replacement of the engine. The problem is that the new aircraft is designed for the new engine. An elaborate set of springs, pulleys, cables, gears, bailing wire, and a lot of duct tape are required to synchronize the old engine with the new aircraft. The synchronization has unfortunate consequences. Luggage is sporadically soiled, crushed, torn open, mashed together, destroyed, or sucked out of holes in the fuselage.
With that history in mind, let me come back to your questions. Most of the deluge reports I’m reading attribute the added and changed persons to “LDS Church Membership.” The unorthodox behavior of the LDS Membership inner person, the blurring of inner and outer persons, and the jury-rigging of the old engine to the new aircraft cause the changes and additions you see in Family Tree that are attributed to “LDS Church Membership.”
In most of the cases I’m reading about, persons created by “LDS Church Membership” cannot be merged into other duplicates. That would delete the ones created by LDS Church Membership. However, those duplicates can be merged into the LDS Church Membership persons. If they can’t be merged either way, see “Cannot Merge Duplicate Records in Family Tree” in the FamilySearch help system.
I think even the FamilySearch software engineers would like to know when NFS will be shut down. Software engineering time estimates are famously wrong. The last official pronouncement I remember seeing said the shutdown will occur “in 2016.” New people keep appearing on the plane and the old engine is barely keeping it in the air. Each Sunday the plane is clipping the trees. Family Tree will either switch over to the new engine soon, or it will crash and burn.
Airplane image copyright 2011, Joe Loong. Used under license.