Thursday, March 16, 2017
Dealing with updates and changes to the FamilySearch Family Tree
One of the basic problems confronting those who work with the FamilySearch Family Tree is the fact that anyone can edit or change existing entries. This is not a real problem, it is really a feature and a good feature of the program. But for those who do not understand the importance of allowing the entries in the Family Tree to be edited, it can be an obstacle to using the program effectively. The basic activity for slowing down or preventing unwanted changes is to "watch" each of the entries in the program about which you have a concern.
By clicking on the Watch Icon, you are notifying FamilySearch that you wish to have a weekly notification of any changes made to your watched people. The image at the beginning of this post shows the current version of the notification. There is a list of the people to which changes have been made and links to the changes. You can then quickly review any changes that have been made during the past week and if necessary make corrections or revert the changes.
For example, Francis Tanner is one of my remote ancestors. Extensive research has shown that his parents remain unknown. However, because of a commonly distributed Tanner's surname book, parents are added to his entry regularly. Some users of the FamilySearch.org Family Tree get frustrated at having to make the same corrections over and over again. But this activity is merely part of the function of the program. It is like sweeping floors and washing dishes. They may seem to be rather mundane activities but if left undone, they can have serious consequences.
Over the years, we have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of changes made to any of the entries that are adequately sourced with reasonable citations, have corrected and accurate dates and places, and where research supports relationships extending the pedigree. Most of the changes occur to entries that are either disputed or are not adequately supported by documentary evidence. In addition, many of the changes are very beneficial because they add helpful information and sources.
Changes to the Family Tree should be welcomed rather than seen as a defect in the Family Tree. Please take the time to watch those ancestors and relatives about which you have some concern and also take the time to add sources and carefully document any information added.