Monday, November 13, 2017

FamilySearch - FamilyTree, a love hate thing.

I've had this post bouncing around in my head for a few weeks.  If it is written down, maybe I can get it out of my head and move on?  Let's see.

I'm a big football fan.  My teams are the New Orleans Saints and LSU Tigers.  I also follow certain players, not necessarily on my two teams.  Cam Newton, the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers is a player I follow.  I love Cam Newton, and I don't.  As a player and a QB, I just love to watch him drive his team down the field.  But, off the field...not so much.  Love him, and then not so much. I feel the same way about FamilySearch's Family Tree...I love it and then, not so much!

FamilySearch's Family Tree is a global 'one tree' online tree.  You already know how I feel about online trees!  But I really like the way FamilySearch has built Family Tree, and how it is continually being improved for the better.  The person-centric Bow Tie view is a favorite.  Hinting, source attachments, family view layout, person watch.  All of it, I love.  A huge plus is the integration with Roots Magic.  Up to this point, I'm a big fan.  But...

Family Tree is ONE tree.  We all add, modify, delete, source, edit, add again, move, edit again, restore...the same data.  In theory, each person has only one record...their record.   And in so doing, there is a rub.  The information you add can be changed by anyone else.  This has been the main criticism of  Family Tree.  Another one tree is Wiki Tree.

By the way, I know of people - generally members of the LDS Church - who use only Family Tree for their genealogical work.  I understand the reasoning - Temple Work - and if this is your sole mission, then I guess it is okay for that.  But for everyone else, having all of your work up on any online platform is crazy.  Even if all you have is PAF (Personal Ancestral File), use it as your data platform.  NEVER make any online platform your sole repository for all that family history you have been collecting for so many years!  The best practice here is to have some software on your own computer and have it backed up redundantly.  I use Roots Magic plus a maze of back-ups.

Back on topic, ideally Family Tree would be a great way for family historians to collaborate.  I haven't seen this.  What I see are people changing what other's have put in, and then having it changed back.  A genealogical tug-of-war.

Recently FamilySearch added a messaging component to the Family Tree experience.  I think the idea was for people to work out their 'disputes' amongst themselves.  Maybe that works, but in my experience, some family historians don't like being confused with facts.  And a few weeks ago, I was contacted (through the Family Tree messaging system) by one such person.

My reason for putting anything into Family Tree in the first place, it simply to share my research.  If I add anything, it is sourced and this should help others working with the same person or family.  In 2015, I changed an unsourced birthdate (1703) to a new birthdate (1707) sourcing to a derivative secondary source.  In the area provided for an explanation, I explained myself.  Again, the only motivation here is to help someone working on the same family into the future.  My note said the change was based on the given source, and for now it was the best information available.  I even said the birthdate should be changed later if a better source is uncovered.  That was in 2015.

In 2017, I received a message.  It was short and curt.  Had I even taken the time to check the changelog before making my change?  Of course, I did.  I checked everything, the first date was unsourced; nothing supported it.  So I responded quickly (and much more politely) reiterating my 2015 justification in making the change.  Then a second message came in.  "By the time you read this, I may have already made the change" and "please consider deleting your comment [2015 change justication]".

Being the professional that I am, I didn't respond - and haven't.

Then a third message, saying the reference 'belonged' to a tree on World Connect.  Without saying anything, I followed up on this.  Yes, the same person with the 1707 birthdate was out on World Connect, and it was sourced the same.  The Point?  I'm not sure.  I found my information in the original volume during a visit to the Family History Library.

I still plan to continue adding and modifying Family Tree with my source-based research but have turned off messaging.  No time for the negativity.

So what about the birthdate in question?  It was changed back to 1703.  That date remains unsourced.

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