Thursday, February 16, 2017
The Ultimate Family Tree Challenges: Consistency and Accuracy -- Part One
I start thinking about the problem
Let's pretend that we could somehow zoom out and look at the entire 1.1 billion entries in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree at the same time. Let's further imagine that we could filter our view of this huge expanse of names to show all of the inconsistent or inaccurate entries in blazing red while the rest of the tree was in some pleasing pastel color. How much of the Family Tree would be highlighted in blazing red?
At the recent RootsTech 2017 Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, MyHeritage.com introduced a new feature for all of its millions of user family trees. The feature was given the name of the Tree Consistency Checker. In addition, for some time now, the FamilySearch.org Family Tree has implemented a series of icons like this:
Now, there is no way for me to know how many of these pesky red Data Problems icons there are in my section of the Family Tree. But by using the MyHeritage.com Tree Consistency Checker I can see exactly how many errors and inconsistencies there are in my own family tree. The answer is a startling 726 errors. This is unsettling as well as discouraging, but not in any way surprising.
This experience at RootsTech started me thinking about how I was going to approach this monumental issue. My first attempts at "correction" lead to a virtual avalanche of related errors, inconsistencies, duplicate entries and other problems. One approach to the Family Tree issues is the utility program, FindARecord.com. Even if you don't have a family tree in MyHeritage.com, you can begin looking at the errors and inconsistencies by generations using the FindARecord.com program. Here is what happens with my part of the Family Tree when the filter is set to one generation.
It may be some comfort to know that I have entered myself correctly into the program. The fatal flaw in both these error and consistency programs is that you could be making up all the names but neither program would be able to detect fraud or lying.
For example, the "Maud" person shown above in the Data Problems icon is so far removed from reality as to be inaccurate even if either her birth date or marriage date were changed. Such a person probably existed, but not at all likely on any of my family lines. The data problem shown on FindARecord.com is a still-born infant who has been included in the Family Tree but not further identified.
But at this very basic, initial level, using the FindARecord.com program complemented by the MyHeritage.com Tree Consistency Checker, gives me a couple of powerful and useful tools to start addressing my own issues in my portion of the Family Tree.