I received the following comment from a reader of my recent post about the new MyHeritage.com Tree Sync feature for LDS users of the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. I have responsive comments about this on a number of levels. Here is the comment.
What concerns me is that there is no chance to review what changes MyHeritage is going to make to FamilyTree before the synch happens. The synch is apparently automatic and you only get a report of what was changed after the synch is complete. It seems to me it would be much better to require users to individually approve each change to FT before the synch occurs. I have nightmares of MyHeritage making all kinds of changes to FT, many of which users may not have actually intended to make. Then, it's left up to all us FT users to try and fix the mess.First of all, the Tree Sync feature is not "automatic" in the sense that it "automatically" copies changes from your MyHeritage.com Tree Sync family tree to the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. You have to go to the menu and select the function and then let it run for an hour or so to make any changes. But my response to the comment is not quite that simple. The entire idea of having the ability to synchronize information on two different family trees inplies that they will be kept as close to identicle as possible. Right now, I can manually "sync" any of my online family trees by merely comparing the entries and copying and pasting in any changes. That is exactly the problem being addressed by the idea of creating a way to do this without the work of individually transferring changes.
Even before MyHeritage made their announcement, there are at least three different ways to manually, one by one, make synchronization changes from a third party family tree to the FamilySearch.org Family Tree: Ancestry.com, RootsMagic, and Ancestral Quest. In each of these three programs changes are made essentially one item at a time. By the way, this is a really great feature of all three programs. But what we are talking about here with MyHeritage takes this a giant step further. It allows me to have the same information on my portion of the Family Tree and maintain what is close to a mirror copy (without the reverse effect of a real mirror) on MyHeritage. I now have what is essentially a backup of my work on the FamilySearch.org Family Tree (and everyone else's work too for that matter).
The comment starts out with an inaccurate statement, "What concerns me is that there is no chance to review what changes MyHeritage is going to make to FamilyTree before the synch happens." The only changes made are those you yourself make to your own personal MyHeritage.com family tree. Yes, if I make a stupid mistake on my MyHeritage family tree, I will likely copy that stupid mistake over the FamilySearch Family Tree, but how is this any different than any other mistake I might make while working on the Family Tree? Again, you initiate any synchronization.
I have been working away on my MyHeritage.com Tree Sync family tree for some time now. Guess what? I am finding errors in the Family Tree that need to be corrected. For example, I find a whole ancestral line in England that has non-specific birthplaces for my ancestors. MyHeritage automatically gave me a pile of Record Matches that gave me the specific parishes where these ancestors were born. Rather than manually copying those changes over to the Family Tree, I simply synchronized my portion of the Family Tree and all the changes were made and sources added to support the changes. Wow.
Let's think for a minute about the random changes being made to the Family Tree by people who don't know enough to add sources for their changes or who are simply making mistakes, stupid or otherwise. What do I do when someone changes my entire family line by adding a different parent or some other major change? I have to manually go back and make all the revisions. Now, I have a backup copy of my portion of the Family Tree that helps to keep those random changes under control. I can still use the manual method of making changes if I want to do so but I have a copy to use that is not out of date that can support my corrections to random changes in the Family Tree.
The second statement in the comment also begs the issue. You are the only one adding anything or correcting anything on your MyHeritage family tree. You made all the changes to your MyHeritage family tree, if there is a mistake, correct your own mistake. MyHeritage isn't going to make any changes to your portion of the Family Tree, you are. If you make a mess, it is your own mess not some other user on MyHeritage.
What the commetator is really trying to say is what if one of your relatives has a mess on their MyHeritage.com family tree and uses that to make changes to the Family Tree? Hmm. It seems to me that this is already the case. That is the reason I already get a long list of changes to the people I am watching on the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. What the commentator doesn't realize, apparently, is that all my corrections to the Family Tree will be copied over to the relative's MyHeritage.com family tree. Hmm. I just corrected my relative's mistakes. His or her family tree on MyHeritage just got a lot more accurate assuming, of course, that I know what I am doing.
The comment also overlooks the fact that the MyHeritage family trees are subject to an extensive error correcting feature with a consistency checker on multiple levels. I have already had that feature correct several errors in my own MyHeritage family tree. I would suggest that the commentator use the Consistency Checker before synchronizing his own MyHeritage.com family tree efforts.
Now a sense of reality please. The number of people actually working on the FamilySearch.org Family Tree and making changes is realtively small. Presently, only about 6% of the members of the Church make any real effort to work on the Family Tree and of those only a vanishingly small percentage have an active family tree on MyHeritage. The effect of this is those without a family tree on MyHeritage are losing out on finding more Record Matches that will help them be even more accurate. I suggest that only really serious genealogists will make the effort to use MyHeritage's family tree and synchronize their changes. By the way, there are a huge number of "serious" genealogists who wouldn't dream of putting their family tree on either website or anywhere else for that matter. But that is another topic for another day.
This is a win/win situation. We all benefit from more accurate entries in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. If you want to know what is happening, I suggest you watch the presentation by Gilad Jephet, the CEO of MyHeritage.com on YouTube. See "Perspectives on Combining Genealogy and Genetics"
If you have any questions about the MyHeritage.com Tree Sync feature or anything else you are worrying about. Please make a comment or contact me directly. You can email me. I am also on Facebook, Google+ and almost everywhere else on the internet.