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

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Can an app find a name for you to take to the temple?

The App Gallery has links to approximately twenty-two programs that rely on the accuracy of the data in your portion of the Family Tree to provide you with either temple opportunities or information about your relatives and ancestors. If these programs work as you might expect, then why is there any need to do your "genealogy" and isn't genealogical research and all that goes with it simply a waste of time?

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you are probably well aware that I frequently write about and provide webinars about the need to "clean up" the entries in the Family Tree. But this post is not just a repeat of the previous arguments and illustrations that I have previously used to show that nearly everyone has some errors in their portion of the Family Tree and some of us have major issues that can only be resolved by major surgery by cutting off unsupported and imaginary ancestral lines.

For this post, I decided to take three or more of the programs that purport to provide me with names using my own portion of the Family Tree and see exactly how reliable those leads really are. I am not going to mention the names or any identifying elements of the programs because that would not be fair to them and it would make it seem that I was targeting specific apps or programs. My point is simple: any program of any type that relies on the accuracy of the Family Tree will fall into the same trap.

Here we go.

Program #1 provided me with the following name for temple ordinances.

To start out, I chose to have the app search my ancestors. Little did I know that the program would take a considerable period of time to do this until I got tired and finally ended the search, The program did not find one name and it must have searched a couple of thousand or more names. With no results, I decided to add another program.

Program #2 provided me with the following name for temple ordinances.

I started the search with my second choice and this time I let the program search cousins.

The program found the following person.

Hmm. This person was born in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1903. The only ordinance needed was a sealing to spouse. The spouse was born in 1907 and just barely became available for ordinances under the 110 Year Rule. I decided to leave this ordinance for the immediate family. Since the dates on the completed ordinances showed that the ordinances had been done recently. I don't think that someone who was "harvesting" green icons would stop to make this evaluation. Also, since the only ordinance available was a sealing to spouse, I suggest that this is an issue with involving younger people in the process. I am getting a lot of ideas about future blog post topics. Of course, by publicizing this opportunity, someone who is unrelated to the family, could come in and try to take advantage of this opportunity.

I decided to use the same program to find another "opportunity." Once again, I was stuck with the program searching for a long period of time. The program finally finished working away and here was one of the names found:

This was once again a sealing to spouse. So anyone finding this "opportunity" could have reserved the name. Hmm. But in looking at the entries, it was obvious that there was a duplicate. Here is a screenshot showing the duplicate spouse.

In effect, this entry opens up a whole series of corrections that need to be made to the Family Tree. Upon resolving the duplicate entry, the "opportunity" disappeared. But if I didn't realize there was a duplicate, I could have reserved the name and duplicated the ordinance work. This is the main issue with the green icon finding programs. They are better at finding problems to be resolved than they are finding actual opportunities.

Program #3 had a brief disclaimer about the accuracy of the searches and was just as slow as the other two programs. When the results finally started coming in, the program found the same name I had already looked at above with the 110 Year Rule issue. After examining more than 1100 relatives, the program found no more ordinances. The danger of going back further is that it increases the possibility that the entries are inaccurate.  See the following video:

Untangling the Mess on the FamilySearch Family Tree - James Tanner

At this point, I would like to point out that I have found a significant number of people needing ordinances by cleaning up the entries and doing research, at times, extensive research. The supply of "green icons" is finite.

Because two of the programs so far have been inconclusive, I decided to try yet another.

Program #4 didn't work at all.

It is true that these programs can find "opportunities" (when they actually work). But it is also true that the opportunities turn out to be opportunities to do some research and think about the entries rather than being automatically available. More about this in the near future.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your assessment above. The problem is dealing with the Young Men, Young Women leaders, and Bishopric who send the youth to the FHC with the sole intent to find green temples. The youth do not want to spend the time to figure things out, they just want the temple card. They are under the assumption that the new found green temple is correct because it was there. It becomes a frustrating experience for the youth when they realize they have to actually do the research or merge duplicates, which takes time!

    These harvesting apps take advantage of the hard work of people who put the info in in the first place. While it is good the work is getting done, is it being done in the right way? I am now in the habit of automatically reserving any new person I add, eventually turning it over to the temple system and not leaving it hanging out there for those stupid apps.