Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday Mailbox: FamilySearch Indexing

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxIn response to my article about Jim Ericson’s frank talk about FamilySearch Indexing, several readers posed some frank questions. In the spirit of Jim’s talk, I’m going to give some frank answers.

Dear Ancestry Insider,

Are any records going to be every-name indexed, such as (say) partitions in Chancery, petitions for administration listing (perhaps dozens of) heirs, wills, or deeds?

Signed,
Geolover

Dear Geolover,

I noticed this morning in the Kentucky marriage record project in FamilySearch Indexing that FamilySearch is not indexing the birth places of the bride, her parents, the groom, or his parents. Because it is cheaper to leave out some of the vital information, FamilySearch volunteers are able to achieve the big numbers Jim showed. Picking out all the names from a free-form record is even more expensive than indexing all the birthplaces from a form.

Does that answer your question?

Signed,
The Ancestry Insider


Dear Ancestry Insider,

I tried to get FamilySearch to correct an error on the 1940 Census. Well I was pretty much informed that even if it was wrong it would stay because 3 people had looked at it. Never mind that is was my aunt and uncle that I had been aware of and knew their names the error is still there.

Signed,
Gale Nash

Dear Gale,

Whoever told you that names could not be corrected in the 1940 census because three people had already looked at them was unauthorized and incorrect (and was, frankly, a little “up in the night”). The real reason is that FamilySearch has no mechanism (like Ancestry.com does) allowing error corrections. FamilySearch has said publicly that they will provide that mechanism someday, but haven’t said whether or not they are currently working on it. One can imagine that preventing their website from pulling a Hindenburg pulled their attention elsewhere.

Signed,
The Ancestry Insider


Dear Ancestry Insider,

I think that FamilySearch should let volunteers pick projects that they are familiar with, such as transcribing foreign countries where they are familiar with surnames. The Croatian church is one example where I am researching. I don't care if 3 people looked at it, they have all butchered the names.

Signed,
Alojzija

Dear Alojzija,

You are absolutely right. People do a terrible job indexing unfamiliar names. In 2010 I wrote “Indexing Errors: Test, Check the Boxes” about “cold indexing.” Frankly, I would expect a 5th generation Utahn of English extraction to butcher Croatian names worse than a highly trained Chinese keyer.

However, FamilySearch does allow volunteers to pick projects. But to be frank, most non-English language speakers aren’t indexing. (If you are one of the few, good on ya, mate.) FamilySearch isn’t going to provide lots of non-English FamilySearch Indexing projects to choose from if they are just going to sit there glacially indexed.

I think the solution is “Laissez Faire Indexing,” as I called it back in 2011. FamilySearch should scan everything in the vault and take everything they are currently photographing and throw it immediately, unindexed, on their website. Then let anyone index anything, anytime. Don’t require any involvement from FamilySearch, or they become the bottleneck. Don’t require them to set up projects or write indexing instructions or block images or anything else. Sure, they can organize formal projects like they do now; but don’t require it. There are downsides, to be sure. See the referenced article for more information.

Signed,
The Ancestry Insider


One reader gave me a friendly jab over a typo in the first article about Jim’s talk: “Jim provided some tips for success. Work with a fried or get some training.”

Dear Insider

I hope we don't all have to work "fried." Winking smile I sincerely appreciate all of your messages -- THANKS for all you do !!!!!

Signed,
Phil Besselievre

Dear Phil,

That was on purpose. It’s state fair time. Everything is served up fried. Winking smile

Signed,
The Ancestry Insider

9 comments:

  1. I think your idea bout indexing is brilliant! Terrific out of the box thinking. Now if we can only get those who are in charge out of that box.....

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  2. Your answer to Geolover does not answer their question. It just tells why the powers that be now are too interested in other things(ie. money and numbers) to really consider what the genealogists want. Geolover asks if it will ever be possible.

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  3. Regarding Every Name Indexing, I was able to find my aunt/uncle's marriage record, and the Index had their parents' names, but when I pulled up the "picture" of their record, it only showed the part that had their marriage certificate - absolutely no "picture" of the whole record/application, etc. to show the parents' names. I emailed them about it several times, asking why I couldn't see the whole record, and they actually got pretty upset with me. They didn't know, but didn't want to admit it. I do arbitration, too, and will tell you there is some pretty bad indexing out there.

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    Replies
    1. Lissa,
      You've got me curious. Can you send me the URL of your aunt/uncle's marriage record? I'd like to look into it
      ---tai

      Delete
  4. Carol Kuse is correct concerning the answer to my question. Your reply concerns a current result in one database and is not a policy statement from FamilySearch about every-name indexing.

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  5. I am an indexer for FamilySearch and I very slightly indexed for Ancestry. Believe me, FamilySearch has a MUCH better system than Ancestry ever thought of. (Which much of Ancestry's is not done by volunteers now) But at least FamilySearch does have the arbitration, when I was indexing for Ancestry, there was no such animal...everything went straight into the system without ever being checked.

    But from what I've witnessed when people DO correct the indexing on Ancestry.com is that they want a record to be corrected to reflect how they KNOW the person's name to be spelled....not the way it actually is written on the document. And frankly, that is not the way it is done. As an indexer, you are instructed to index the record EXACTLY as you see it...not how you think it should be. So if a name is blatantly misspelled, you index it that way. Indexers are not supposed to correct ANYTHING in the record.

    But I have also witnessed bad indexing on both Ancesty & FamilySearch. But the vast majority of the bad reads have been on Ancestry. This causes major issues with getting good results within the search engine. I have had times when I could not find a family on Ancestry in a a census year only to search FamilySearch and find them VERY easily. Then I use the info to go back to the Ancestry catalog and low & behold, the record is so badly indexed that the name does not even come close to what it shows in the record.

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  6. Then there are databases having much wrong with them. A few years ago Ancestry added a NARA database with pre-made index (BIRLS supposedly from military records. Users found many index errors and inexplicable data entries and hollered. Ancestry removed it, but later added what may be an improved version (no images available).

    Recently Ancestry added a database of Iowa marriage records transcribed very poorly from County marriage records. Many wrong surname spellings. Some instances where data about one of the parties is transcribed on the wrong line, so (say) names of parents are attributed to a wrong person. Using it, I have found that Ancestry's index is pretty much correct, no matter how wrong the database info is.

    Folks really have to be cautious when using indexes.

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  7. I had a similar problem when trying to have familysearch correct an incorrectly trnscribed record that CLEARLY showed MY FAMILY was living in a different apartment than the family they put with them. They refused to correct it and insisted they were correct when it was plain as day that they were not correct--

    I don't bother even trying anymore--no sense fighting an uphill battle--it is clear they don't care about correct info.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I had a similar problem when trying to have familysearch correct an incorrectly trnscribed record that CLEARLY showed MY FAMILY was living in a different apartment than the family they put with them. They refused to correct it and insisted they were correct when it was plain as day that they were not correct--

    I don't bother even trying anymore--no sense fighting an uphill battle--it is clear they don't care about correct info.

    ReplyDelete