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

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ownership and Peace in the FamilySearch Family Tree

During the past few weeks and months, I have been repeatedly subjected to comments coming from other users of the Family Tree that ranged from abusive to threatening. Likewise, I have had some of my online friends express their own frustrations with abusive and threatening comments. Is the Family Tree really supposed to be a battlefield? Are we supposed to expect that as we go about editing the information that we will be subjected to all kinds of vituperative attacks?

Personally, I lived with extreme conflict nearly every day of my professional life as a trial attorney. I am used to being attacked if that is possible. But most people do not have the emotional background to understand and cope with abuse and anger, especially in from an entirely unexpected venue like the Family Tree. For many years now, Ron Tanner, the Product Manager for the Family Tree and an employee of FamilySearch, has been talking about the phenomena of "my treeism." At the core of the problems we are facing with outrageous claims and comments is the idea of ownership.

The Family Tree is not "owned" by anyone. It is a jointly maintained, unified project. The concept of ownership which is rampant and ongoing, if allowed to expand and fester, will ultimately destroy the integrity of the Family Tree and lead to chaos.

Quoting from President Thomas S. Monson in a First Presidency Message dated February 2017:
To those of us who profess to be disciples of the Savior Jesus Christ, He gave this far-reaching instruction: 
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” 
If we would keep the commandment to love one another, we must treat each other with compassion and respect, showing our love in day-to-day interactions. Love offers a kind word, a patient response, a selfless act, an understanding ear, a forgiving heart. In all our associations, these and other such acts help make evident the love in our hearts.
This injunction comes directly from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ himself. See John 13:34-35
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
This injunction applies not only to those who act but to those who are acted upon. Let's start thinking in terms of kindness and love rather than rancor and vituperation. When we see a change in the Family Tree, let's act with consideration of the feelings of others and not feel threatened and offended. At the same time, we can act in kindness and still make the corrections necessary to improve the quality of the content of the Family Tree. I don't think that inaccuracy is countenanced by kindness. I think it is unkind to allow others to impose their unsupported and incorrect ideas on those who cannot or are unwilling to stand up to bullies and those who cannot understand the purpose of the Family Tree.

1 comment:

  1. I actually have a guy who has told me that every time I change something he put in Family Tree he will delete something I put in. And he does! Sad what we have come to.