My review of Family Tree
I share the frustration of many users with the fighting and deleting of each other's work on individual pages, it can be exasperating. Even when I have provided ample documentation to prove a line, other users disregard it. The problem is that users have all levels of experience, from raw beginners to advanced. I have come across some good work done by knowledgeable individuals but also a lot of guess work by people who don't have a clue. It's one thing to work on an individual from the 20th or late 19th century where there are ample and detailed sources available to compare, but when working on someone from the18th century or earlier, beginners who use this site are completely out of their depth, not understanding that it takes more than a similar name and date to make a match. Most amateur genealogists eventually realize it is necessary to go beyond the sources provided here.
Don't get me wrong, I love the ease of working with the program. It is simple for someone with experience to quickly sort through various sources and compile a good profile for an individual. As a template for a workplace to build a personal tree, it would be great. Maybe there is a way to combine the two. The common tree, worked on by all users could still be available, but one could take an individual's page and adapt it to use in one's own tree, affecting no one but oneself. Then one's own work and tree could be preserved.
For myself, this version of Family Tree can only be used as a tool to play around with, in the hope of easily finding some records that are applicable. It is hopeless as an accurate source for reliable work and unfortunately very deceptive for those with no experience.
Your observations and thoughts are very correct. However, it is not very likely that FamilySearch/FamilyTree will change from its original plans to be one single world family tree shared by all users. You may already be familiar with the purpose of Family Tree but specifics are detailed within the link here: https://www.familysearch.org/en/help/helpcenter/article/what-is-the-purpose-of-familysearch-and-family-tree
There are also many suggestions for helping to reduce the incidence of inaccurate changes in Family Tree that are included in the article at this link: https://www.familysearch.org/en/help/helpcenter/article/how-can-i-prevent-other-people-from-making-inaccurate-changes-to-family-tree
As you mentioned, there are many, many levels of expertise demonstrated among the users of Family Tree and many are indeed new, or relatively new, to users such as yourself. There are indeed many guests of Family Tree who do use other untouchable genealogy programs to keep their personal records safe from being disrupted by others.
Experienced users can and do have have a positive influence on many less experienced users by posting sources and verifiable documents to records. It is unfortunate that there are significant guests who do not read such documentation or use logic and good judgement in their work.
To provide your very thoughtful feedback to the best place, you are encouraged to use the information here that is from within the link that is copied below:
- Scroll to the bottom of the screen, and click Feedback. (This link is not visible on the Family Tree view or Memories Gallery.)
- Click Go to Discussion Board.
- On the Ideas page, click the topic that best fits your question or suggestion.
- You see recent posts. If you see one similar to your question or suggestion, you can click the title and add to the discussion.
- To submit a new question or suggestion, click New Idea.
- Give the idea a title and then enter your questions or suggestion in the main box. To help others find your idea, add tags. Click Save.
The problem is that the display page for a person's individual tree creates a misleading expectation that it is a personalized version of the users' tree. People find it frustrating that the visual display of their personal tree keeps changing from day to day and they have no control over it. If there's no way for an individual to adjust or correct it, it might be better to eliminate it.0
Some people find it very useful to keep their own personal information that cannot be changed by another party. There are numerous genealogical programs available that can be used for this. You can find several that are available in the Solutions Gallery
in FamilySearch. When information is incorrectly changed in the Family Tree, you can refer back to your Golden copy as reference to make the changes.3
Community responder (not FamilySearch) - general response: Likely nothing I say here will be new. It is just a general response.
I greatly agree with your review but differ in this main respect:
The main differences between a new non-professional's and an experienced professional genealogist's tree 'data entry' or record/relationship attachment/linkage is:
experience and application of those experiences (education)
As C D McBride mentions - that makes those with more experience and education valuable resources to the newer guest and the general FamilySearch Community. These professionals - if thoughtful about where they can be most impactful - can provide great educational resources to the FamilySearch Community (think wiki-type guided research for specific places, some like to produce videos on topics, graphology, cartography, DNA, etc.) Family history is a broad interconnected 'nexus' of levels of scholarship from many interconnected domains - it is simply what connects us together - FAMILY. There are many perspectives from which it can be viewed and its applications could be endless.
Over time - relatively quickly in my opinion - if presented well - and there are many many good presentations here in FamilySearch - the newer guest can gain this experience and become 'sufficiently educated' to make great additions and contributions to Family Tree. It is partly experimentation on the part of the guest and partly presentation of the Tree and Record Sources from FamilySearch. The basic building blocks are all there - it may be that the presentation may need to be adjusted here and there to best or efficiently educate and guide the newer guest to become a proficient contributor.
I too certainly have opinions on how I would like to present things differently - addition of features or workflows that might assist the researcher - but let us be realistic about the task - we have the organization/correction of a whole Granite Mountain of digital records - ultimately we can each just make a small contribution. I can submit Ideas to FamilySearch here in Community or through Feedback button - or go create a YouTube channel, etc. But I have to remember FamilySearch has provided and is continuing to provide/add all the necessary building blocks - I just have to work within what is provided, learn how to and then add my small bit of 'good content' - mostly on my family relations in the Tree. None of us can accomplish putting this huge collection of digital records in the Tree alone - we need each other - new guest and professional. But we need to be organized and work together and not 'fight' over small issues - if we see an error we can correct it and attach our reasoning - so that those following behind can understand our contribution - new guests need to become educated to 'read what is already in the Tree' and understand the reasoning that is presented.
Most amateur genealogists eventually realize it is necessary to go beyond the sources provided here.
You are correct. FamilySearch does not necessarily or easily present a broader view of the history of localities so that the context of an individual in the Tree can be understood in that broader context (person discovery pages, timeline events are probably the closest thing other than connecting Books or histories of localities as sources that come to my mind). That depth of knowledge is left to the individual contributor. For example, I was not even aware of the history of Volga German's from Russia - but because of interaction with others working in the Tree have become more aware of this history.
What I consistently find as I work in Family Tree - if I 'follow my nose' - there usually will be some source somewhere that will help my understanding of the location and time frame I am interested in. To be sure I have my 'brick walls' - but one day when I gather/find a source (if such sources exist and have not gone 'the way of the Earth') it may help. I just need to keep searching and attaching/referencing my searched sources - and learn how to search better/efficiently.2
Hello @Kel Routley,
Another thing you can do to help cut down on errors is to post a brief note under the Life Sketch on the Person Page. Then, it is seen immediately and no one has to click on anything else to see your comment.