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.


  1. James, thanks for the critique. As you recognized, one of the moves FamilySearch is making is toward more contextual help in the product. This allows people to get the help they need at the moment they need it. I can't speak to the issues you bring up about the changes to the Help Center, but I think moving toward more contextual help within the product experience is a great innovation and demonstrates a deepening focus on the people that use and their needs rather than treating "Patron Service" as a separate function outside the core product experience. You will see more of this type of support in the future. Thanks again for your take here and for sharing your experience for others to learn from.

    1. Thanks for your kind comment. What seems to be missing right now is making the user aware that the Tips are the place to go for information about what is on the page.

  2. I'm with you here. I was familiar with the Old help system and it seems like they piled everything into the part that I thought was the least functional. When I search for a topic, I get a bunch of poor matches and don't get the ones that I know were there a month ago. I contacted them and was told to be patient, but some of the tools I have used in the past are now hard or impossible to find. Contextual help is great. So is the kind of help organization that was previously available. The wiki is missing pieces that were there for my country of interest and now the learning center - a great place to help beginners get started with specialized skills and even basic skills - is now virtually defunct. I can't read their minds to find the right words that will trigger the response I need.