Education: FamilySearch website/functionality - Browser functionality, COOKIES PREFERENCES, etc
Misinformation and lack of information about functionality of FamilySearch website bothers me. FamilySearch allowing misinformation to continue into rumor needs addressing.
Since a previous post on this topic was 'flagged' by image moderators I am putting the topic as an idea for improving the understanding of FamilySearch guests about how the FamilySearch website works (to my understanding) and allow other Community responses (those with even more pertinent knowledge) to educate Community.
Below are a couple of areas for FamilySearch Community guests to learn and become educated about in use of FamilySearch:
- FamilySearch website is primarily on Amazon AWS platform but uses a combination of many components on multiple platforms to deliver content to the guest. If there is a problem with AWS servers or other content platforms then FamilySearch guests will be unable to use the site to full capacity.
- FamilySearch website uses HTTPS protocol to authenticate and deliver communication and content securely to it's guests. If there is a problem with either server or guest SSL security certificates - the guest(s) will have problems using the site to full capacity.
- FamilySearch website uses extensive COOKIES PREFERENCES. Most of the secure interaction with the FamilySearch website (to my understanding) can be viewed here in COOKIES PREFERENCES. If the guest is not allowing certain site Cookies then site functionality can be impaired.
Example #1: Some guests did not see the Feedback button (right-hand side of most FamilySearch pages)
Functionality of this Feedback button appears to have changed (I am not certain) to be a REQUIRED COOKIE rather than only a FUNCTIONAL COOKIE - this should allow all FamilySearch guests to have Feedback functionality no matter the browser being used. There appears to have been an issue with SSL security certificates that may have been involved with some guests not seeing this Feedback feature. Some guests were informed that Firefox browser would not allow them to receive Feedback functionality - this is unfortunate misinformation - website features should be available no matter the browser (typically an updated browser version is recommended) - unless there is a security certificate issue/other platform functionality issue needing resolution.
Why does any of this matter? Well, guests can have functional issues with the website if certain platform issues are occurring or their device SSL security certificates expire, or if COOKIE PREFERENCES settings are not sufficient, etc. FamilySearch will take care of issues on their end but the guest needs to be educated/informed in instances where the issue could be on their end. FamilySearch development has the responsibility to test and document browser functionality and inform guests of such - so that they can know if their browser is going to work with the site successfully. This cookie-type information should be sufficient for FamilySearch to issue a notice of some sort IF the guest's browser is not compatible with use of some website features rather than put compatibility issues in the hands of Community/FamilySearch representative support.
Example #2: Search> Records
There has been plenty of change with the Search functionality. Has anything been released to educate guests on new functionality? Very little that I have seen. Search certainly has a list of familiar tips and tricks but do these explain changes in Search algorithm and the varied Results guests are now receiving in comparison with Results they had grown to expect in previous Search? I don't think so - and such generally appears to be the consensus of Community posts.
Why does this matter and what should be done? Well, guests are experiencing a significant variation in Search Results from previous functionality - it is obvious something has changed - FamilySearch Community will need education on Search new functionality. Why leave this to Community to decipher? Why not just explain in beta.familysearch.org or upon release what has changed? (personally I joined in Community too late to benefit from beta.familysearch.org and do not know if Search functionality/documentation was presented - but I haven't seen such documentation here in Community nor in the live website. Perhaps FamilySearch can direct me to such documentation). No documentation but there is a new blog post - which does indicate the proper way to find your ancestor after initial Search Results using filters. If I interpret this correctly - FamilySearch is saying cast a wide net and filter down. So the differences between 'old Search' and 'new Search' algorithms are obscured but the filtering is how to get back to better results. Not exactly the answer I was looking for - but I can accept that. I'll just keep giving Feedback if I run into bad results - hopefully Feedback will help Results get better over time.
All I am saying: FamilySearch Community will function much better with an informed and educated Community of guests. Such education needs to come from FamilySearch - please FamilySearch educate me - include such needed education in the development process so that users can remain informed. Have regular/orderly roadmap and documentation of features education included in the development process. If an Education/Overview Category needs to be created and required before other Categories/features open to guests - do so - otherwise misinformation and rumor can rule Community. I want to see an educated Community - not a rumor Community.
Thank you FamilySearch for your wonderful resources to help guests research Family Tree!