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

Monday, May 23, 2016

Comments on the Changes in the FamilySearch Family Tree

I recently received the following two comments about the Family Tree.

Comment #1
Sometime during the past month my tree expanded along various branches back to dates unimaginable- one even tho Jesus and beyond. Is there some hacking going on of late?
Comment #2
How do you get people to stay excited and interested in continuing to use the family tree, instead of working on closed family trees on other sites, when every time they open up their branch of the family tree they find information has constantly been changed by well meaning individuals. Unfortunately most of these changes are made without any solid sources, and people just tire of having to constantly make corrections.
 Hmm. I had to think a while before coming back to this perennial question. Of course both comments are about exactly the same issue. Here is what is going on with my portion of the Family Tree. You might want to notice that there is an option on the menu bar for the Family Tree called "Lists." There are two options for the Lists entry: "People I'm Watching" and "Changes to People I'm Watching."

You might have to look closely, but you can see that I am presently watching 110 people. That number keeps going up as I continue to work on the Family Tree. The second tab on this Lists page shows you exactly all the changes made to your "Watched" people. Here is mine:

There are a couple of issues here. First there are sixteen changes listed for today, 23 May 2016. Second, every one of these changes was done by either FamilySearch or LDS Church Membership. In addition, all sixteen changes were done to two people. Now, what is changing? That is first of many issues that you need to think about before venting your frustration and throwing your hands in the air and declaring that you are going to stop using the Family Tree.

In both these cases, all of the changes reflect additions or corrections to the huge mass of original data we have inherited from our ancestors. If you want to blame someone, blame all those who have "worked" on your family lines for the past 150 or so years. The simple explanation is that FamilySearch is still correcting and adding to the data in the Family Tree. So changes like these will continue to occur until the work is all done. There is nothing wrong with the Family Tree and it is not being "hacked." It is merely doing what it is supposed to do. That is, it is changing with corrections and additional data.

You cannot stop the changes. They are part of the system.

What about changes from your relatives? These cannot be stopped either but they can be minimized. Here are the things you need to do.

  1. Watch every person you are working on or are concerned about
  2. Read the list of changes you will get each week from FamilySearch
  3. Address the changes, if you care about them, as soon as you see them
  4. Contact anyone who seems to be making irrational or unexplained changes and ask them what they are doing
  5. In the meantime, if you have documentation and sources, add everything you have to each individual in the program
  6. If you have sources and documentation and have added both to the program, change everything back to reflect the information in the sources
  7. Do this every time someone tries to change the data without putting in a valid source
I can assure you that the number of changes will drop as you do this consistently. If someone continues to make the same change without support, just keep changing it back and adding more sources and information. Eventually, the person will get tired or answer an inquiry.

Remember, you can send messages directly through the program. You do not need to rely on whether or not the person has a visible email address. 

In some cases, you may need to make sure you keep your own copy of the data for these changeable people in case all of your information is deleted. 

I find the changes to be manageable. In some cases, the changes have shown me that my own data is incomplete or inaccurate. 

1 comment:

  1. There is a limit of 3000 to how many records you can watch.