Monday, July 11, 2016

Monday Mailbox: Alternatives to RootsWeb WorldConnect

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxDear Ancestry Insider,

RootsWeb/FamilySearch/Ancestry--I've worked 20 years on Ancestry.com and joined RootsWeb only to find entirely too much work involved updating families. I used GEDCOM to transfer info. My unsuccessful try at Family Search gave me much incorrect information I gave up on that site; that was a hassle, also. I'm up there in years and find genealogy exhausting for me. Should I continue RW or stay with FS? How can I make the transition easier?

Signed,
Vivian Newkirk

Dear Vivian,

If you are going to participate in FamilySearch's Family Tree, you need to buy into the objective of everyone collaborating to build a single tree reflecting mankind. It's more work than doing your own thing because you have to budget time for interactions with other genealogists and you must budget time for teaching people with less genealogical maturity than you (and perhaps learning from others as well, if you are wise). Without your assistance, other with less experience may corrupt the information you contribute.

FamilySearch also has a tree farm like RootsWeb's WorldConnect. It is called FamilySearch Genealogies and replaces the old Pedigree Resource Files offering. Expect it to take the same amount of work as RootsWeb to keep it up to date, plus the extra time it will take you to learn a new system.

There are a number of interactive, online family tree managers. I only follow FamilySearch and Ancestry, so I can't intelligently comment on others. I'm unclear as to whether you have an Ancestry Member Tree. That is another option. If you haven't used it, there will be a learning curve. Further, your tree will not be freely visible to everyone on the Internet. You decide if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Fold your desktop family tree manager into the mix and things may change. What desktop program do you wish to use?

Signed,
---The Ancestry Insider

14 comments:

  1. I completely understand Vivian's frustration with FamilySearch Family Trees (FSFT); I've spent much time adding correct information based on the best available sources, attaching the sources, notes, and discussions to the profiles, only to have someone come along and completely wipe out everything I did. I suspect this usually happens when someone merges their tree with FamilySearch using something like RootsMagic. Like Vivian, I've pretty much given up on FSFT, except for my paternal line.

    Geni.com is similar to FSFT, in that it's a collaborative effort. It has some key differences, however: you cannot upload GEDCOMs or merge your tree using a desktop app like RootsMagic. This means it can be a lot of work adding people in the first few generations from yourself, but usually by the time you reach your great-grandparents, someone has already added them. A second key difference is that Geni.com uses curators for master profiles, i.e., profiles of people who have a lot of descendants. Curators arbitrate differences between people so you shouldn't get into the edit wars you sometimes see on FSFT.

    WikiTree.com is another option that is similar to both FSFT and Geni.com. However, it has a limited GEDCOM upload function and does not use curators, but profile managers have a little more control over profiles than on FSFT, at least for more recent people. I haven't used WikiTree as much as FSFT or Geni, so I can't speak to any issues with people making incorrect changes to people's profiles.

    By the way, Ancestry Member Trees do not have to be public; you can make them private but still allow them to show up in search results, requiring people to contact you to see the full details, or you can make them completely private so that they don't even show up in search results.

    Personally, of the 3 collaborative trees, I'm giving Geni a go for now, since I've had fewer experiences with bad edits. I also maintain a private family tree at Ancestry.com so I can avail myself of the shaky leaves to identify potential record matches.

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    1. I have given up on FamilySearch. As you pointed out, all your work can be erased by a person who comes in and changes it. I will not waste my time correcting clumsily submitted, nonsensical changes. I know that sounds harsh, but way too many people simply do not read, check, and source properly. They are simple name collectors. Ancestry gives too many false hits. So right now it's MyHeritage. But I can see in the near future just having something on my desktop, and possibly uploading it to RootsWeb or my own web site.

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    2. Through the years I have had so much free help from the wonderful people at FamilySearch that I want my tree to be on FS because I know it will be there forever for free. So I have waited and waited until FS worked out all their issues and decided to put a small family on FS last week. I wouldn't allow me to do it because it said the family already existed. The family was there alright, but with a different wife and mother! I called FS and was told that I should get in touch with the other researcher to get this ironed out. Over the years I have tried to help people correct their trees and I seldom get even the courtesy of a reply and never once has anyone been interested enough to fix their line even though I have sources for everything I enter.
      After all the hours I have spent doing quality research I am no longer interested in sorting out other trees - better someone can see my tree, with sources and see other trees and make up their own mind.
      The disappointment in all of this is that I won't be able to say thank you to FamilySearch by putting my tree on their website.

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    3. keith- geni has its pros and cons. If you buy into the one large tree concept, you will be ok. If you want to keep your own tree "in our hands" you run into problems with the geni curators. Geni advocates having multiple managers per name.

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  2. It is so confusing with all the different options to build family trees.
    I used Ancestry World subcription to build my tree, since 2003, and did buy Family Tree 2012 software and integrated nicely with my tree, and disappointed they will not be together as of end of 2016.
    I use Family Search for research only.
    My main research I document (sources please), is Scotlandspeople.gov.uk., since they have the very best proof for my relatives, since I was born there, and most all of my research is there.
    I do not have a large, large tree, but I do know who my real relatives are, not just collecting names to see just how large a tree, or what name look good or might belong to my tree.

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    Replies
    1. Family Tree Maker 2012 will continue to work with Ancestry.com even after 2016, as will FTM 2014. In fact, FTM is not being discontinued at all. It was bought by Software MacKiev; see http://www.mackiev.com/ftm/.

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  3. If you are not interested in the collaborative tree feature, loading you gedcom to the Pedigree files on Family Search works very well - Tribalpages allows adding pictures as well but no one can alter your work without your permission (cost is free until you get over 50 pictures)
    I'd like to draw your attention to the Family search Genealogies section - there is a new category - Guild of One-name Studies - these are 'forests' of individuals that share the same surname. Single 'trees' can range from 3 individuals to up in the thousands - some sourced for 20 or more generations.

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  4. I wish collaborative trees would work, but I can certainly understand, from the many, many simply ridiculous trees I see on Ancestry, why they wouldn't. I would never want anyone but me involved. It would be infuriating.

    I am grateful fro the tip about Scotlandspeopel, as my ggggrandfather, George Cribb, was born in Scotland in about 1835 and is essentially untraceable, except for one census record in Ontario. It's a place to try, I guess!

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  5. My 2 cents. Ancestry.com is a monster that forgot what it was for. That said, It has sources as does Family Search. Actually Family Search has records that ancestry.com doesn't have, I mean real images while ancestry.com might have a index.
    First make your tree offline on a program like Legacy, that saves everything you do to your computer. Then after finding sources at ancestry, Family Search, usgenweb, and other, make a tree and send it as a GEDCOM to ancestry, familysearch and you favioret sites so other can benefit from your efforts. I do not make any trees online in the cloud. Point again is Family Search is as good as ancestry for major records at no cost.

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  6. There are a few option that no one has mentioned for online trees. Heredis online is a great option. They offer a free option for desktop software, Heredis 2015, that syncs with the online trees. But Heredis does not offer any records. And right now, the suff software is VERY affordable at 50%, only $14.99! Herdis trees can be public or completely private. It has a built in search engine as well. I have used it several times for client projects and it seems well received. It's what I wich Ancestry would be as far as an online tree goes.

    The RootsMagic 7 software also includes only trees on it's site My Rootsmagic. I've used it as well. Trees can public or private. Rootsmagic 7 gives hints from FamilySearch, MyHeritage, and FindMyPast.

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    1. Heredis 2015 has a nice, easy-to-use interface, but if you ever want to import or export data via GEDCOM, it does a very poor job of it. I wrote a review of it here: http://genealogytools.com/replacing-family-tree-maker-part-7-importing-your-ftm-tree-into-heredis-2015/.

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  7. I'm another old-timer. I have trees in a number of places, but most actively on Ancestry. I NEVER upload a gedcom. I maintain all my trees one person at a time. I need to see what is happening as I enter the person's data. For U.S. sources, I go back and forth between Ancestry and Family Search. Some times they have the same images, but one is of better quality. I also do a lot of browsing in Family Search in unindexed sources. For other countries, in addition to my two favorites, I find specific sources such as Find-My-Past and Scotland's People. I also have a tree on My Heritage. My focus there is on brick walls. I do sometimes get a breakthrough there that doesn't appear on other sources.

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  8. Having done genealogy for nearly 30 years, I agree with many remarks here. I've used Legacy for years as my desktop database, and it's where I work out all my source citations and do all my analysis. Then I maintain a public tree on Ancestry, but as of the last couple years, it's solely for AncestryDNA purposes. I don't view my Ancestry tree as the final documentation of all my years of work.

    I've settled on two approaches for saving my research for posterity. First, I've written a couple of well documented, complete sources cited, copyrighted articles and distributed archival PDF and high-quality print versions to as many family members and interested parties as possible. Including the the Family History Library with permission to publish online (FamilySearch.org -> Search -> Books).

    Second, I do happen to buy into the mission of Family Tree at FamilySearch. I'm not LDS, but the LDS has a decades long track record of commitment to preservation of genealogical information. I don't have that same level of confidence in Ancestry. My expectations aren't terribly high for the quality of collaboration at Family Tree, but I figure I can police my direct lines back maybe 5 generations (and their descendants), and if I do that much, great. Hopefully I can help less genealogically mature users along. I'm using the "Watch List" feature and can see when changes are made to people I care about. Right now my watch list has about 500 people in it, and the volume of changes is maybe 1 a month. And that one change so far has been trivial. Don't forget there's a roll-back feature if someone comes in an totally clobbers work you've done on an individual.

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  9. I have used WikiTree for my own genealogy for years. It's free through either gedcom uploads or one-by-one manually.There are no problems at WikiTree as long as you do not create pre-1500 fantasy family trees. Also they are strict about sources.The privacy control for myself and living people works well there. Although there are merging of duplicates, one is notified before the merges happen. I am only on FSFT to fix records. I worry a lot about my trees at FSFT as it's not a perfect system. However, I do house my complete One Name Study in the One Name Guild section of GENEALOGIES of FamilySearch (which is a different system).

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