What are the preferred options to put in the Last Name field when no surname is available?
Below is the question I posed to the FS Community and someone suggested I submit as a new idea.
Someone else suggested that I put what I am suggesting into the alternate name field. But then there needs to be clear guidance that is OK and even preferred (if that is the case) to make sure folks don't delete the alternates provided.
What ever the final decision here, it needs to be written up in a policy document that I can point people too.
The FS policy at: https://www.familysearch.org/en/help/helpcenter/article/how-to-enter-names-in-family-tree states that when last name is not known, to leave that field blank.
It seems thou, that folks are putting various things in the Last Name field. And those and/or blank last name is NOT conducive of finding folks. Which, then results in patrons making many duplicates over and over again.
I am also guilty of putting things in the last name field to help searches and identity of persons. The method I use is a spinoff of: https://www.familysearch.org/en/help/helpcenter/article/how-to-enter-scandinavian-names-into-family-tree and how Biblical lines are done with: “Joseph” “son of Jacob”.
If you search for “Salome” as first name, you can’t find the “Salome” of interest. But search on “Salome” ”daughter of Antipater” and she shows up. Search via the last name field only with “of Antipater” and all his children show up. The search results are stunning.
I have spent the last year doing the above method in a particular area of FS and have had no complaints. But I just moved to a new area of interest and the folks there keep changing my entry’s back to blank, or “Title of place” or “of place”. Or if left blank, they may also put the above in the suffix field. And for some reason these folks aren’t putting Titles in the Titles field, but in last or suffix fields, any ideas why?
Try searching for “Charles Martel”. See what awful results you get. I had gone through his whole family adding “son of Charles Martel” and “daughter of Martel” to all his kids as last name and can search on “of Charles Martel” and it pulls up all his family. But then everyone there deletes and restores back to “blank” or other varied named fields and then the searches are failure.
If some policy stated that the first prefer alternate Last Name is “son/dau of parent”. And if everyone was educated and solidified around that, the end result would be much better searches, both for human and the FS system which seeks duplicates. And a lot less duplicates being make because folks can otherwise find stuff.
Also, I discovered that if you enter an alternate name for the person in same format for several of the languages most likely to search, that they get very successful search results too. For some reason again, many folks delete my efforts there as well. Oh, there is a check box on the search page to have the search include “Alternate names”.
I seek input about what is preferred here and if policy is written somewhere other than the above, that I linked too.
And then who/how to contact FS to make some minor adjustments to policy that would help immensely. Does anyone here see any of my points/ideas problematic in any way? This doesn’t involve any adjustments to the system. Just a few words of change to data entry polices.
Best regards, LeEric Marvin