It is possible, I suppose, that the number of duplicate individuals and therefore the number of duplicate ordinances may be reduced as FamilySearch.org's Family Tree becomes the sole method of qualifying names. But I did have a very disturbing conversation today that makes me doubt that the program will be foolproof.
A patron came into the Mesa FamilySearch Library with a Family Ordinance Request form to print off the cards to take to the Temple. The missionary who printed the cards looked at them and noticed that there was not one complete name, no exact dates, and the places were all very vague. What I understood from my conversation with him, the names were something like "Robert Jones, b. abt 1850, deceased and a general place such as Ohio." In other words, there was no specific information at all. The missionary decided to look at the Family Tree entries for the cards and found the entire pedigree to be filled with such vague information. He began to suspect that the entire line was being fabricated. As long as a person does this by adding these bogus entries to his or her primary line, they will "pass muster" and allow the cards to be printed. Absent someone looking at the cards and questioning the reality of the entries, there is really nothing built into the system to stop such a practice.
Now, this started me thinking if this problem was common or not? I can imagine that such a fraudulent pedigree could last for sometime, until a descendent of the initiator discovered the made-up names. I am baffled at the motivation for doing such a thing.
By the way, because of our rules in questioning the work of patrons, the missionary could not say or do anything about what he had observed.
In New.FamilySearch.org, making up a pedigree and then doing the Temple work was not only possible but quite easy. It could be done intentionally or simply out of negligence. The example above aside, for the moment, what is the possibility that intentional duplicates can be created in Family Tree that will allow the Temple work to be done? For example, what if someone simply added a extra child with the same or similar name to a family and then proceeded to do the Temple work for the fictitious child? How is this any different than the same actions that were allowed by New.FamilySearch.org?
Both systems, Family Tree and New.FamilySearch.org, run on the premise that the users will be careful and honest. But what if the users are neither? Are there any safeguards built into Family Tree to stop duplicate children or adding a fictitious marriage with additional children? In both cases, the Temple work could be long done before the fiction was discovered by some other family member. Of course, if the fraud were discovered, there would be a confrontation and action would likely be initiated by FamilySearch and/or the Church.
We have discussed this issue in the past in the context of New.FamilySearch.org and I have come to the conclusion that as a missionary in a FamilySearch Center, it is not my place to question the submissions in any way or even say anything to the patron. But what is the impact of these actions on the part of patrons on the integrity of the entire system?
I am convinced that Family Tree will eliminate a great deal of the duplication rampant in New.FamilySearch.org. But I am equally convinced that there are those who will still use the system to their supposed advantage. Since there are now relatively very, very few sources, adding more fictitious unsourced names will not be noticed until family members start working on the lines.