Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Thursday, October 27, 2016 Help is no Help

After about a week of looking at the newly changed Help Center, we are even more frustrated with the format. Let's suppose that I want to find out how to edit an entry in the Family Tree. What am I supposed to do with the blank space shown above with the cryptic question, what do you want to learn about?

Here is what happens when I type in "edit an entry in family tree:"

Now what am I supposed to do? So I reword my inquiry to "how do I edit an entry in the family tree?"

I get the same exact results. Now what? I decide to be more general and see what happens. I enter "Family Tree."

Hmm. No what again? Look, I am somewhat experienced in searching for stuff online. I know all about key words and other methods of searching. What I want to do is find out about editing one of my entries in the Family Tree. How do I go about doing that now? The previous Help Center had an icon for the Family Tree and some frequently asked questions. I could put in a word such as "editing" and get several articles on editing in the Family Tree. But now, I am stuck with responses that are not even in the general category of editing in the Family Tree.

At this point my wife pointed out that there are "Tips" on the pages in the Family Tree. So I go to the Family Tree and bring up an entry.

One of the "Tips" says "Edit Information" When I click on this entry, I get the following explanation about editing with a link to more information about the Family Tree.

So it looks like I am supposed to go to the Tips. Why doesn't the Help Center tell me to go to the Tips?

The old Help Center was always a little opaque but not obtuse. Now my suggestion is use the Tips function and forget the Help Center for now. I will keep checking to see if it improves.

I realize that I am usually slightly more diplomatic in my approach to the Family Tree. But I am at a loss as to how to put a positive twist on this particular new development.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Tidal Wave of Data

Few of those who do research on the website yet realize that many of the available digitized records only appear in the Catalog rather than in the Historical Record Collections. Over a billion records have been added to the catalog entries and are waiting to be processed into the Historical Record Collections.  In addition, to assist in navigating all of these digitized microfilm records, FamilySearch has added this film strip or block view. The visual.advantage of this view is obvious to anyone who has spent untold hours scrolling through microfilm images one by one. In this view you can clearly see where on section of the original microfilm, often indicated by an item number, begins and another ends. This view also speeds up the process of scrolling through to find an individual record.

Presently, until all of the added digital records are processed into the Historical Record Collections and only a smaller number have been indexed, it is a good idea to search for specific record collections in the Catalog rather than relying completely on the name search for the Historical Record Collections.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Way Beyond

It has been a really long time since I dug into the internet and looked for FamilySearch related websites that are online in addition to Almost all of us associate FamilySearch with the hugely popular main website, but it is always interesting to see what else might be out there, including the little known and less used nooks and crannies of its online presence as well as its very popular social media sites. I have not included any of the websites maintained by Family History Centers or FamilySearch Centers worldwide because there are almost 5000 of them. I must also admit that I learned a lot about FamilySearch that I was not aware of in compiling this list.

I also did not include websites that merely had articles or other content about FamilySearch or parts of the website with more obvious links.

Here is what likely will always be a partial listing.

Now to some more obscure websites.
I am sure there are more, but that is all I could find today. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Kalani Sitake, Hank Smith, and Vai Sikahema Speaking at RootsTech Family Discovery Day

We are getting regular announcements now about the keynote speakers for RootsTech 2017 and the Family Discovery Day on Saturday. The lineup for this next year's event for Saturday, February 11, 2017 is as follows:RootsTech is thrilled to announce BYU football head coach Kalani Sitake, popular LDS speaker and BYU professor Hank Smith, and former NFL football player and television news anchor Vai Sikahema as featured speakers at the popular RootsTech Family Discovery Day event happening Saturday, February 11, 2017. More speakers and guests will be announced soon.

Some of the other featured events are also outlined. In addition to hearing inspiring messages from Kalani Sitake, Hank Smith, and Vai Sikahema, you will:
  • Hear inspiring messages from General Authorities and other Church leaders to be announced in November.
  • Experience the interactive expo hall, where families and friends can create a visual family tree, scan photos, and more.
  • Be entertained at the RootsTech closing event with comedic entertainer Jason Hewlett, BYU men’s a cappella chorus, Vocal Point, and a cappella women’s chorus, Noteworthy.
  • Attend a selection of classes designed to teach you how to find family names, prepare them for temple blessings, and teach others how to get started on building connections with their own families.
As I have been since the event first started, I will be a featured RootsTech 2017 Ambassador. We used to be called bloggers but I guess they decided to expand the category and call us something less techy. 

RootsTech Family Discovery Day is a FREE one-day event for families and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but registration is required. There’s something for everyone at Family Discovery Day. Attendees are invited to come and hear inspiring messages, engage in interactive activities for all ages, and discover the latest technology, products and services in the family history industry by touring the expansive expo hall.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The FamilySearch Site Map

Clear down at the bottom of each page of the website, there is a Site Map link. Usually, a site map to a website contains a list of all of the pages available on the website by category and this page looks like that type of page. Essentially, this page seems to be a listing of the menu items available from dropdown menus scattered around the website.

Since I have been complaining about the Help Center recently, I decided to see what happened when I looked for some of the things I have writing about. Behold, when I clicked on the Site Map link to the Help Center, I was taken back to the previous layout instead of the new one.

This makes me think maybe the new Help Center I wrote about previously was or is a Beta test and will go away perhaps.

The task I was interested in completing was finding the Partner website registration page that I wrote about in my last post. Here is a screenshot of the page again, for reference.

Unfortunately, there is no reference to this page on the Site Map. But since it did get me back to the old Help Center (at least for the time being), I was able to get to this page.

Over the past two or three years, I have spent a major part of the time I spend supporting patrons at the Mesa and BYU libraries helping them get onto and use the partner programs. So this example of trying to find the signup page is not trivial. How can I explain to someone who needs help anyway how to get to these pages?

But it is nice to know that some of the pages are available in a Site Map.

Friday, October 21, 2016

How do I get to the FamilySearch Partner Website Registration?

I finally found this very nice page about signing up for the current Partner Program but I have no idea how I got here. I recently wrote about the redesign of the Help Center. Previously, there was a icon link to the "Partners" and then another "Our Partners" link to get to a link to sign in to each of the available Partner websites. Now, there is no visible link to the Partner Programs to be found and the Get Help menu is not helpful and there is no link in the Help Center.

I tried to recreate my steps in finding the link to sign up for the Partner programs. Here is what I got when I type in "Partners" in the newly redesigned Help Center:

One of the options was an article on RootsTech 2013!!!

There is a link to an article that says "FamilySearch partner websites." That link takes me to another article shown here:

There is another link to the page shown above at the beginning of this post. Well, do I really have to remember all those steps?

Is there a shorter way to get to the Partner signup page?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Redesign of FamilySearch Help Center?

Every so often makes a major change to their website without notice or explanation. Sometimes the explanations come after the fact. Sometimes the changes are simply tests and disappear after a while. Very recently, I went to the Get Help link in the upper right-hand corner of the webpage and to my surprise, I got this pull-down menu shown above. When I clicked on the "Visit Help Center," the familiar Help Center screen had disappeared and all that was left was a blank field that said Search. Apparently, FamilySearch got over influenced by Google all of a sudden and went to a minimalist approach to Help.

Not that the Help Center was all that helpful as it was, but this is stupefying. It made me forget what I had started looking for in the first place. I finally remembered and put in a search. But now, I not only had to guess what I wanted to search for, I also had to try and guess what FamilySearch called it. Here is what I got.

Before, I had a Family Tree icon and when I searched for "standards" I got the standards for entering information in the Family Tree. Now I get "zoning" and setting up printers? What? I also get lessons on the Genealogical Proof Standard. Now I am flummoxed.

I also noted a new link on the right side of the page.

This was rather than the usual Feedback link. I decided to let them know what I thought. I was instructed to click on the part of the page I wanted to improve. Since I was the entire page, I wasn't sure what to do, but clicked around until I got something that looked like this:

I gave some specific feedback in a box that looked like this.

Now, I wasn't sure what some of the questions asked. For example, did the question about recommending refer to the problem or the entire website? Of course I recommend the website but I am not happy with the Help Center now and never have been.  I am supposed to rate the content of the training, but I haven't received any training and in fact, I haven't received any training about what I am supposed to put in the feedback box.

Hmm, well I guess we live with this. Fortunately, very few people I talk to and help ever used or even noticed the Get Help menu, so I probably won't have too many questions on how to help with the help menu.