The tragedy of the lack of awareness of the basic structure and mechanics of the Family Tree is that the users become frustrated and antagonistic, just as the lady who wrote to me expressed. It is interesting to me that almost every issue she (and others) raised about the program are actually features and are functioning exactly like the program is supposed to function. In other words, the program is doing what it is supposed to do and the people are frustrated because they are unaware of how or why the program acts as it does.
As I see it, the problems arise as a control issue. The dissatisfied user is unaccustomed to collaborating with others in real time and feels his or her control was being threatened. Rather than use the features of the program that allow users to contact each other and work together, the unhappy person is ignorant of those features. For example, the user is likely not aware that there are a whole series of steps that can be taken to minimize the impact of other's lack of information. These steps include:
- Watching selected individuals
- Posting requests and information about specific individuals
- Responding to changes
- Providing notices and sources for every entry
- Reporting abuse to FamilySearch
- Making corrections to data changes rapidly after giving notice
- Reviewing the change report sent by FamilySearch each week
In some cases, I am not sure there is a solution. The dissatisfied user simply refuses to go through the educational process needed to "come up to speed" with a program that does not function in a way they are accustomed to seeing a program work.
Much of the frustration expressed stems from two major flaws in the program:
- Family Tree allows users to make changes without any contact information
- Family Tree allows users to make arbitrary changes without either justification or source citations
These are flaws because the effect of allowing users to operate anonymously and without justification puts the primary information supplier at a distinct disadvantage. It is not surprising that these two challenges lie at the heart of the vast majority of the complaints I receive.
A further tragedy is the lack of use of the extensive educational and training tools available to anyone who takes some time to review them. Here is a list of just a few of the basic resources available.
- Get Help -- FamilySearch.org
- Learning Center -- FamilySearch.org
- FamilySearch.org Help Center
- FamilySearch.org Research Wiki
There are also a number of webinars and YouTube.com videos available.