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

Saturday, August 26, 2017

We can't be afraid of change

“We can't be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don't have something better.”
C. JoyBell C.

As I noted in my most recent post, change is the real challenge of working on the Family Tree. We have a good example of what happens when we try to limit changes in a wiki, such as the FamilyTree, in the parallel program, the Research Wiki. The Research Wiki was a fantastic project. During its early years, it grew rapidly until it had about 80,000 pages of extremely valuable genealogical information. There were active users into the thousands. In March of this year, 2017, I wrote an assessment of the status of the Research Wiki entitled appropriately, "The FamilySearch Research Wiki." To update my earlier post, I would observe the following:
  • In March, there were 85,027 articles, as of the date of this post, there are 85,720
  • In March, there were a total of 215,259 pages, today there are 224,885
  • In March, there were 242 active users, today there are 242 active users
In short, there is now a "stable" number of users making some additions. But what about the existing pages? I am presently watching 964 pages on the Research Wiki. I have email notifications turned on and any major change will trigger a notice to me that one of these pages has been changed. As far as I can remember, I have received only one email notification during the past few months. From my perspective, the Research Wiki is slowly disintegrating. The number of users is not nearly great enough to maintain the existing pages. 

Now, the Research Wiki is still useful. It is still "alive" in the sense that changes are being made, but it is hardly keeping up with the maintenance needed as the internet itself continues to change. 

If we impose too many restrictions on those who can edit or contribute to a wiki, in essence, we kill it. Do we really want to kill the Family Tree?

The real issue with the Family Tree is not change, it is the sad state of the data we have inherited from over 100 years of unsupported and unverified genealogical contributions. Those who set themselves up as being beyond change are, in almost all cases, merely arguing for the status quo. They want to preserve their inherited illusion that all the family history work is done and what has been done in correct. 

But wait, you say. What about the situation where you have extensive documentation and listed sources and someone who has no sources comes along and makes an illogical and unsupported change? Yeah. So what? The program allows you to change it back. Everything we own requires maintenance. We have to buy gas for our cars. We have wash clothes (well not me personally). We have to cut the lawn (once again not me personally), etc. etc. etc. If you think of the changes to the Family Tree as maintenance, you may still be unhappy, but pulling weeds is a fact of life. 

Anything worth having is worth working for. Let's get to work and preserve and correct and add to what we have in both our priceless wikis. 

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