Approval of Changes
I am a FH student at BYUI. I find it very frustrating that anyone can make changes to anyone's family in FamilySearch Family Tree without proof or approval. I have been advised by more than one instructor to NOT use FamilySearch because of this. I suggest that all changes go through an approval process so that unnecessary changes or unproved information cannot be added just willy-nilly. I was also shocked to find out that some members duplicate existing people on purpose so that their children or grandchildren can have names to take to the temple! I understand the concept of one big world tree, but it cannot be a free for all. There must be a way that we can regulate the information being put out there. There is also the issue of changing a living person to a deceased person and thereby having 30 of that person in the tree. For example, when my husband's grandmother passed away, about 30 of her grandchildren then went into their living grandmother's record in their own trees and changed her to deceased, thereby creating 30 grandmothers, all the same person. I don't know how to control that, but it is definitely a problem.
I find it interesting that a BYUI instructor might tell students to not use FamilySearch Family Tree. I tend to agree with your assessment that worldwide open-edit is not needed for near generations especially (since those persons are more well known to current living relations and do not need to be entered/edited by everyone in the world). However, FamilySearch Family Tree has been implemented as open-edit (available for anyone at anytime to enter data for any person representation/PID) since it was developed - about 20 years ago. There have been innumerable complaints and suggestions for changing open-edit but as far as I am aware - none have seriously been considered for changing the Family Tree structure. I hope they can change this in the future but it probably is not likely - so you can use one of the third party tree management applications to create a personal/private tree - which can sync with FamilySearch Family Tree. You can find these tree management solutions in the solution gallery:
As far as the duplicates generated upon death - that is because multiple people (rightly so) entered their grandmother (or other relation) as a living relation in their personal/private space (prior to their death) - so each is considered a separate person. There could be a routine developed which would check relations for duplicates and resolve this but it is probably considered simpler to just allow at least one living relation to merge all (30) duplicates - not a difficult process since it is known the person is a duplicate. Merges become more difficult if it can not be determined whether persons are in fact duplicates or separate persons - care needs to be taken with merges of persons further back in history.
Previously Suggested Solution/Opinion: As an exercise, consider your birth family - how many persons should have primary edit privilege for your family? Obviously each person should and can edit their own PID in their own private space - entering 'auto-biographical' vital information/memories. But the argument goes - should cousins or other relations be excluded from edit privilege? I tend to think primary/priority edit privilege be given to descendants (some don't agree) - and that others should submit edit requests - i.e. record hints, memories - to the immediate/direct-line descendants group. With the Family Groups new feature these groups could be formed and edit requests filtered through. I would like to see this occur for the 3-5 most recent generations - but some say this would restrict distant cousins from editing too much. It really depends upon what is being edited and I still tend to believe descendants may have more primary/family lore information from which to base a more accurate representation. There are some 'sticky' relationship situations where edit may need to be restricted - and my understanding is that FamilySearch Support can help somewhat in those types of circumstances. The other idea for restricting open-edit that I believe has merit - once a person's vital records/details have been added and remain unchallenged for a period of time (or if there were the option for living descendants to agree/consent to particular attached records) then I believe it would be nice to have those records 'locked'/belong to that person and not be removeable/open-edit (again this should be fairly easy for agreement to be reached for near relations - the records attached are either correct or they aren't and their is little room for any other option). This is reflected by the fact that more current documentation/records are probably more easily found/attachable to near relations versus relations further back in time where collaboration/open-edit makes more sense.0
Welcome to the "Community.FamilySearch" Forum.
I am just another 'lowly' User/Patron ...
[ And, I happen to be a Member of the Church ... ]
[ And, I have been a Staff Member, of Family History Centres", of the Church, for many Years ... ]
Please do not be offended; as, such is not meant to offend ...
Perhaps, you DO NOT fully understand, the 'nature' and 'premise', of the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch'.
Just in case ...
Here an old 'standby' of mine, that I have previously proffered on occasion ...
Most new (and, some old) Users/Patrons, DO NOT, understand, the basic 'nature' and 'premise', of the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch', when they join in.
Please let me explain ...
We do not have our OWN "Tree", in the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch'.
We ONLY have "Branches" (ie. Ancestral" lines), that are interconnected, in this SINGLE "One" World "Tree", for all of us, that is the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch'.
The "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch', is NOT like 'On-Line' "Websites" (eg. "Ancestry_com"; or "MyHeritage_com"; or, the like); and/or, 'standalone' personal (computer) programmes (eg, the OLD, now no longer supported, "PAF"; or, "Ancestral Quest"; or, the like).
We DO NOT have "Private"/"Personal" 'Trees', in the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch', like other 'On-Line' "Websites"; and/or, 'standalone' personal (computer) programmes.
We do not even, own; or, manage; and, are NOT even responsible for, the "Deceased" individuals/persons, in "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch'.
And, most importantly ...
We DO NOT even, own; or, manage; and, are NOT even responsible for, Our OWN "Deceased" Ancestors/Family/Relatives, in the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch'.
The "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch', is built on a "Open Edit" Platform - hence, why ANY "Registered" User/Patron can "Edit" (ie. Add, Delete; and/or, Change) ANY "Deceased" individual/person, in the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch'.
"Collaboration", is a big part, of the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch'.
The "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch', is a "Collaborative" effort, on ALL our parts.
As, basically, we are all related ...
Your "Ancestral" Lines, are most likely, ALSO another User's/Patron's, "Ancestral" Lines, in fact, probably, that of quite a few other Users/Patrons.
We ALL make MISTAKES ...
NONE of us are PERFECT ...
NOT everyone (ie. User/Patron) is an "Experienced" Genealogist.
Most User/Patron, are far from that.
And, MANY Users/Patrons, are VERY "Inexperienced".
We are ALL trying ...
Everyone CAN help ... if they wish to participate ...
The "System", DOES NOT require, Verification; or, Supporting Evidence; or, Proof, of "Details" ...
[ Nor, should it ... ]
That, is the responsibility, of us Users/Patrons ...
The "System", is ONLY providing, the MEANS, to join, individuals/persons; and, families, together ...
Everything, in the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch', is a CONTINUAL 'Work in Progress' ...
Where, some things, are in a better state, than others ...
The "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch', is not for all ...
That Said ...
There should NOT be, as you suggest, an "Approval Process", for ANY "Changes".
Such would DEFINITELY "Stifle", any of the GOOD "Progress", that is being made, in "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch'.
Anyway, WHO, is going to be "Responsible", for such "Approval" ... certainly NOT, 'FamilySearch'.
'FamilySearch', has neither, the Personnel; nor, the Resources/Funds, for such.
And, the Users/Patrons, should definitely NOT, be "Responsible", for such "Approval".
Just imagine the 'Time' WASTED, just WAITING, for SOMEONE, to "Approve", EACH; and, EVERY, "Change" ...
Just RIDICULOUS ...
It is "Very" SIMPLE ...
IF, you find a mistake/error in your "Ancestral" Lines, caused by another User/Patron; THEN, just go ahead; and, address/fix such - no big deal.
In fact, you have the options of either:
(1) Contacting the User/Patron concerned, by "User Messaging" of 'FamilySearch', advising of the mistake/error (with the correct "Details); and, requesting, that they correct such; then, hopefully, waiting, for such to be actioned;
or, take the initiative,
(2) Making the "Changes" yourself, providing any supporting evidence (if not already attached/included); and, you can then, contact the User/Patron concerned, by "User Messaging" of 'FamilySearch', advising of the mistake/error; and, that you have corrected such. Or, of course, you can just wait for the User/Patron, to possibly contact you; and, then, discuss.
The choice is yours ...
Remember just be courteous in any "Messaging".
You never know, it may be, a LONG LOST Relative; or, an EXTENDED Relative, you did not even know about.
The PREFERENCE, is for "Family Tree", of 'FamilySearch', to be as CORRECT; as, POSSIBLE.
[ But, as we know, NONTHING is PERFECT ... ]
That is exactly why, many Users/Patrons, ALSO maintain their own PRIVATE "Database(s)" (ie. Copies) of their "Ancestral" Lines , on 'On-Line' "Websites" (eg. "Ancestry_com"; or "MyHeritage_com"; or, the like); and/or, 'standalone' personal (computer) programmes (eg, the OLD, now no longer supported, "PAF"; or, "Ancestral Quest"; or, the like).
All that one can really do, is 'Monitor', one's "Ancestral" Lines, for 'wayward' CHANGES, by OTHER Users/Patrons.
Nothing more, nothing less ...
As an aside ...
IF, you were not already aware; THEN, ...
In "Family Tree", of "FamilySearch' ...
We have the ability to "Watch" (Oops, sorry, 'old school', "Follow"), up to a MAXIMUM of x4000 individuals/persons, at any given time.
It is a matter, of "Following", one's MOST important Ancestors.
Just to keep on top, of any 'wayward' CHANGES.
I check, the "Changes" to those that I "Follow", on a "Daily" Basis; so that, I can keep on top of things.
More often that not, nothing needs to be done; but, at least, I have the opportunity, to be abreast of things; as, they happen/transpire/unfold.
Again, please do not be offended; as, such is not meant to offend.
Just my thoughts.
I know, that this certainly may not help/assist; but, I hope, that this may provide you with, some additional, insight; and, perspective.
The most glaring problem with this (perpetual) suggestion is: approval by whom? Proof as determined how?
There are curated-model one-world-trees out there, such as WikiTree, and maybe Geni (although it has retreated so far behind the paywall now that I can't even tell). They're all -- as far as I know -- at least an order of magnitude smaller than FS's Family Tree, so it's hard to judge whether the problems of duplication and erroneous changes are any better or worse in those models. I do know that curation or moderation engenders its own problems: it's what makes it necessary for WikiTree to have an "unresponsive manager" process, for example. On a tree the size of FS's, dealing with that would be full-time work for an entire department.
But you know that FS's image problem is truly pervasive when even BYU instructors spread it. (It's wrong on many levels, starting with the fact that FS is a whole lot more than just the Tree.)5
@Murphy9 It can indeed be frustrating on many levels. But a one size fits all solution for requiring "approval of changes" would not work. Just a few things to think about- Family Tree is far too big for one person or even department to have complete control of the system in the way of checking all changes. If sources conflict, which one would be the accepted one? Who makes the final call? In many parts of the world sources don't even exist. If there are not any sources, who decides which is right? I have seen death certificates with different dates than tombstones or military draft record or even birth dates. Which one gets is deemed most accurate? Many families have published genealogy books and refuse to view new sources as they become available- they are convinced great great grandma's work is the only correct listing.
I have been on the receiving end of the back and forth with changes. I have attempted to handle it in this way. I attach every source that I can find to the person(s) in questions. I write up a detailed explanation and put it in the collaboration tab under discussion. Then I contact the person who made the changes and ask them to kindly review my explanation and the sources attached and see if they agree with my findings. That doesn't always work, but most of the time it helps to resolve a lot of issues.
Also when making changes to persons who has been going back and forth, I attempt to get consensus from the majority of the contributors before making changes so that we don't end up in this back and forth. Not always an easy thing, and sometimes it continues to be a problem. I am working with one such family at the present.
If it involves two different families who have been incorrectly merged, I thoroughly research both families and attach or reattach all of the sources to the correct individuals. Then make sure that there are no possible duplicates showing that might create future issues for either of the families. Good sourcing seems to help a lot in most cases.
I also keep my own personal tree on Ancestry. That way no one can change it. So when erroneous merges or changes are made in FamilySearch Family Tree I can go to Ancestry and quickly see how the family was indeed supposed to be.
I also put watches on all of the direct ancestors and those of interest and watch as the changes come through each week. It's easier to catch quickly and make those changes than to wait for bigger issues to appear.
Please don't get discouraged and quit using FamilySearch Family Tree. We need those who are putting in the work to make the verification and add in the sources to help make the tree a better record for all.3
For an explanation of FamilySearch's "Our Tree" and why/how this may occur:
Keep in mind for anyone who does want "total control" of what they consider THEIR family tree
Programs like ROOTS MAGIC, ANCESTRAL QUEST, and various others were designed with this very need .
Conversely the whole paradigm of FamilySeach Family Tree - from the design up was a common collaborative database whereby all users have the ability to make changes to any record.
These are some great video on the subject of the collaborative nature of FS
WHY USE FAMILYSEARCH FAMILYTREE
who would do the "approving" in an approval based system with millions of users?0
I agree with many who question what the approval process will be and I add, what would the acceptable timeframe be for a result? I see posts where people are requesting records be unlocked so they can be merged and updated. I would think the research on that action would be fairly straight forward and yet there is not instant gratification. If I want to add a baby photo would I have to wait 6 months? I for one LIKE (as so many seem not to) the collaborative environment. I have met incredible people and distant relatives. I have one fairly messed up ancestor born late 1700s and there is actually a little joke in the life story about who will be brave enough to tackle the clean up.
The bottom line is learn how to get along with people. Learn how to work with people. Learn how to consider things you had not thought of before. Learn how to live with things that aren't exactly the way you like it. And you need to stop and think about how complicated the rules will become when you set up a screening committee to approve or not approve every change. Will you accept only sources that comply with genealogy standards of proof? If so, remove the memories function and remove all comments because indirect evidence and personal knowledge will be contested. My father in law was not named on his original birth certificate. He was in his 20's when he had it officially updated. I found a baby photo of him labeled with the name he went by as an adult. I uploaded that and used it as a source and proof of his birth name. How would you handle that? Approve it or not?
The duplicates of living who must be merged after death is something I agree with you and have complained about. I believe it a horrible business model which will overwhelm the servers with in several generations. In addition is one other thing you missed related. When I die, all work I have done on living people I created will sit dormant for all eternity and never be made public unless I pass my login information to someone. I am not LDS and so all of the records of living people created by non LDS will also continue to clog servers with all that information invisible. There is no process to apply to make they public. These issues should be considered.0
Ah, now for the issue of updating non-family. I inherited a business ledger with names, dates and business details from 1832 to the Civil War. I have been working off and on to research and update the records of the clients. This is invaluable genealogy information in some cases. Most are not family. I inherited my grandfather's graduation day photos from medical school and tagged the memories of his friends since the photos labeled all names. My grandmother graduated from nursing school and I inherited the ceremony program. I tagged the memories of all her fellow graduates since the names of the graduating class are listed. My other grandmother was a sports fanatic. Her high school basketball team won the county basketball championship in 1924 and I tagged her marvelously labeled team photo to all the records of the players. She not only had their names, but their position, their nicknames and whether they were starters or not.
Would any of this be approved in your mind??? None are family.0