We need someway to identify hijacked records and stabilize identities
When I train patrons to use Family Tree, I always emphasize to them the importance of verifying that a record has not already been hijacked.
By hijacked, I mean that the record which came into the system as one unique individual has now had all the data changed on the record to the point it now represents an entirely different unique individual.
Record L6VN-J7G provides one example of this. The record was originally for Edmund Lord, born 1819 and christened in July 1820. In June, a patron changed the name to be Thomas Howarth, and changed the birth date to be 1860. There were no merges performed on this record. The patron just "hijacked" the record for Edmund Lord and turned it into a record for Thomas Howarth. All the sources and relationships on the record still belong to Edmund Lord, the record details just no longer represented Edmund. I have since repaired this damage, so please look in the change history to observe the issue I am referencing.
This is not an isolated incident. I have a google spreadsheet in which I have recorded 150+ other examples, and I expect that most patrons who have used the tree extensively have encountered similar examples.
I would like to propose that something should be done to mitigate this type of damage. The original data that uniquely identifies the record should not be hidden at the very bottom of the change history. Accessing that information is very difficult once the change history becomes burdensomely long.
I would like to see one of the following options:
Idea 1) Place a button at the top of the change history that will open the original seed data that created the record. For example, identify the earliest contributor (often this is FamilySearch) and when the patron hits the button, pull up a list that contains only that first contributor data.
Idea 2) Place a button at the top of the change history that will take the user to the bottom of the change history page.
Idea 3) In the details screen, when a patron clicks on the "Name", include the original name from the record in that popup screen (along with the reason statements and tags and "see all changes" options). Similarly, do this for the birth, christening, and death, but the trick with those events is that if the original contributor left them blank, then the original data should be listed as blank. Every record must be added with a name, so the earliest name is always the original intention, but if the record was entered without a birth/christening/death/burial, then sometimes those fields can contain hijacked information. It may also be useful to encourage patrons to be able to enter a reason statement about why the current name/date/location is vastly different from the original name (if the current name/date/location is vastly different from the original).
Idea 4) include another box at the very bottom of the details screen that shows the facts that existed on the record originally before later contributors edited it. That portion of the record could not be edited, though a comment section at that area would be appropriate.