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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Challenge of Duplication of Temple Work -- Will FamilySearch Family Tree help?

This is the third and, for now, final installment in my recent series about the duplication of Temple work. The current method of submitting names for Temple work involves using the FamilySearch Family Tree program. Family Tree is presently the only program for submitting names for Temple work except for an extremely small number of exceptions. However, at the time of the writing of this post, although the Temple submission portion of has been disabled, users of the program are still able to add information. The question arises as to whether the transition to Family Tree will positively impact the number of duplicate ordinances being performed?

Although, several procedures have been implemented in the Family Tree program to discourage duplication, it is still possible to duplicate ordinances without too much difficulty. Family Tree requires the user to review possible duplicates before entering information into the program. In order to avoid the issue of confronting a possible duplicate, the users merely has to indicate that the suggested duplicates are not the person being submitted. By ignoring possible duplicates the user can create a duplicate entry. The system of allowing users to use their own judgment in determining whether or not additions to the program are duplicates relies entirely upon the integrity of the individual and their ability to detect similar entries. Unfortunately, some users under the exigency of producing names for groups will use a rather liberal interpretation of these requirements. In this, I'm speaking from personal experience where I have seen whole stacks of cards duplicated.

Granted, it is not nearly as easy to produce duplicate entries in Family Tree as it was and still is in In my first post in this series, I pointed out several methods by which Family Tree may allow duplicate entries. From an engineering standpoint, the real question is whether duplication can be reduced to an acceptable background level. One type of duplication that could be nearly entirely eliminated depending on the acceptance of Family Tree as a basic reference for family research is the duplication of research efforts, especially for remote ancestors. Because of the unified nature of the Family Tree program, if genealogical researchers utilize the program as it is presented it should allow even very remotely related researchers to collaborate and avoid research duplication.

Family Tree probably is forced to operate under the assumption that the users are employing their best efforts to provide accurate and properly sourced information. Resolving this issue when there is a breakdown in the reliability of the users or simply a lack of careful research scholarship seems to be outside of the realm of the solutions that can be presented within the program itself. It is also not clear that teaching and or education of the importance of avoiding duplication will have a measurable effect on the duplication problem.

Since presently, we have not experienced how Family Tree operates separately from, there is no real way of telling its ultimate impact on the duplicate ordinance work. It doesn't appear, that certain of the easier methods of duplicating ordinances in have been rectified, but even at this early date when the two programs are still sharing the same database, it is apparent that Family Tree will not entirely eliminate the duplication problem. One method that might have an impact is implementing a further duplication review process at the time the Family Ordinance Request forms are printed. Unfortunately, this would only work with names were there are sufficient facts to properly search for and find duplicate entries.  Another method for reducing duplicates would be to require a minimal amount of information about newly created individuals and at least one supporting source.

One unfortunate holdover from the program is the implementation of the "green arrows" which previously indicated ordinances were ready to be performed. Users who are transitioning from the program may automatically assume that the existence of green arrows in Family Tree,  will have the same indication. In working with the program, it is apparent that the green arrows in Family Tree are more likely to be a request for additional information rather than an indication that ordinances are ready. At some point, Family Tree may progress to the point where "harvesting" green arrows may not be such a great problem as it is today.

If you reflect upon the origin of the names in Family Tree, you will realize that it is not a place to look for ancestors whose Temple work has not been done, it is rather a record of past Temple work and an indication for further research. Personally,  I am anxious to see what affect, if any, Family Tree will have on duplicate work, especially after the separation of the program from

1 comment:

  1. I am very frustrated with the "Possible Duplicates" function. Most names that I add as a new person fail to find a duplicate, but as I keep working with the family, I find that the person is in the system, but they have been entered with "about" dates and/or name issues (such as nicknames, different spellings, etc.) that keep them from showing up in the initial search. Even in the process of combining two children in a family who are obvious duplicates, the program may not show them as duplicates if the birth years are one year off. I have to combine them using their PID#. As long as people are under the mistaken belief that clicking a green arrow is all they need to do, there will still be massive duplication of temple ordinances.