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

Friday, May 4, 2018

Examining the Weekly FamilySearch Family Tree Changes

If you are concerned with expanding your research or detecting changes to the Family Tree, then one simple tool for helping you with your efforts is to "Watch" the individuals in your section of the Family Tree. The screenshot above is the beginning of an average weekly notice from FamilySearch about the people I am watching. The additions, edits, and changes fall into distinct categories. Most of the list can be ignored but there are frequently "action items" that require some assistance. Here are some of my observations about items in recent lists. I am including the online names of the people who made the changes. This is public information.

This is one of the "background" kind of changes that are usually positive. In this case, the person likely added a Record Hint from FamilySearch. Unless I am actively researching this person, I can simply note that someone is interested enough in this family to add a source and move on down the list. Most weeks, reviewing the list and all the changes take a few minutes. Sometimes, I spend hours working on a change. It all depends.

In this entry, someone added a "photo" of a person who was born in 1759 and died in 1832. This is an obvious error. My daughter, who is an accomplished researcher, caught the error and corrected it immediately. If you do not immediately know why this is a problem, you need to learn a little history before adding sources and photos to the Family Tree. (Hint: When was photography invented?)

This example points out the need to have assistance from knowledgeable family members. Correcting this type of error might also require a brief, friendly, and encouraging message to the person making the change. But this is optional unless the changes keep happening.

 Unless I am actively working on this part of my family lines, I ignore these "housekeeping" changes. I also note that this "ancestor" lived back in the 1600s and it is likely that changes are happening all the time. So, until I get around to working on the Sheldon family, this goes into the wait and see file in my mind.

This is a helpful addition, but it may also be a duplicate photo. Since there is yet no way to resolve duplicate photos on FamilySearch Memories, I just have to live with the duplicates.

I did take the time to look at this entry, simply because it falls into the bizarre Twilight Zone of the Family Tree. This is part of the "William Tanner" mess that is becoming surreal. I just checked to see if the person making the change had bothered to add a supporting source or comment. No such luck. I will probably write about this mess again in the near future.

Here is another example from the William Tanner Twilight Zone. This is only part of the list of changes. You will notice that my daughter has jumped into the fray and corrected a few of the obvious errors. By the way, the list of changes is much longer than the screenshot and there is not one source added to support any of the changes.

Working on this type of problem in the Family Tree where people are arbitrarily making changes without any supporting documents is like refereeing a dogfight. Now and then we step in to prevent serious injury, but we are waiting until the participants get tired or die off before making any substantial changes.

That pretty well illustrates this week's changes. Good luck. You will need it.

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