How can I get help in correcting a difficult error in my Family Tree?
I have been working very seriously over the last three or four years on tracing my Davis ancestors. I have been very successful building a tree with high confidence. Though I admit that the further one goes back the less source documents exist and therefore some assumptions have to be made that could be incorrect.
Despite all the instructions that familysearch provides to correct errors, I have been unsuccessful. There are other users that will constantly change things. With a surname of Davis I have found perhaps a couple hundred changes that are listed related to the "alternative" Davis individual that is in error. In my effort to correct my tree I found a "merge" that I thought I could reverse and that would solve my problem. It did not. This merge took my Davis ancestor and claimed that this person was a duplicate. And the user did not provide any substantive source data on the change list. In fact the user used the same statement for many other changes . . . word for word. It went something like this "it is obvious this person is wrong." In the process of trying to fix this I discovered that there are many duplicates of my real ancestor (different id's). This of course presents more problems since additional confirming data for each may be complete, lacking or incorrect.
I have concluded that I cannot fix this myself. I would be willing to contract with a familysearch expert to do this but have no confidence that someone would just change it again, over and over. Despite familysearch's best intentions I will likely only use FS for research purposes. My frustration is that close and distant relatives I communicate with will question my research when they look at my family tree on familysearch.org.
I have not had this problem with ancestry.com. This is despite my tree being public. I will need to make sure that I do not have to designate the ancestry tree as "private" to protect my version of my ancestry. It would be nice if FS would enable one to have a private tree in addition to the public one.
If anyone can provide a solution to my problem, I am willing to listen.
I am glad you have your personal tree on Ancestry. Even if it is marked "Public", it cannot be edited by others unless you grant them edit permission.
FamilySearch Family Tree is entirely different. It is completely open edit. The good thing is that you get help from others related to your ancestors, and they can share records and photos that you wouldn't find otherwise. The downfall is that you also get help from others related to your ancestors...
After I have worked diligently on an ancestor, I click on "Following" to make sure I receive notification of any changes.
I know this didn't answer everything. But I hope it helps.
With as much research as you have done, it is probably best for you to still try to take care of this. No one else will have necessary background.
Is there just one Mr. Davis that is the main problem here that you are having trouble with? That this other user insists is his Mr. Davis? Or at least one Mr. Davis that is the root of all the problems with your Davis ancestors in Family Tree?
If so, this is what I would do:
- Find a day or few that you can concentrate on the problem.
- Take a nice long walk, breathing deep, enjoying the fresh air. Have a healthy breakfast. Meditate or do some breathing exercises.
- Decide if you want the combined Mr. Davis to be your relative or this other person's relative. You might have better luck avoiding future changes if you let it be his. The best practice would be to go to the very first entry in the Change Log and see who this person was when first imported into or created in Family Tree.
- Create two new people in Family Tree named: MY (first name) Davis MY and HIS (first name) Davis HIS without any other information at this point.
- Completely load the Change Log for the combined Davis by scrolling to the bottom of it then print the Change Log to a PDF file.
- Start on the most recent change and work back in time. (Most PDF viewer allow you to annotate a document so you can put a check mark on each entry as you finish with it.)
- For each data change decide if this was for your Davis or his Davis. If the data is correct and applicable, put it on the correct MY or HIS Davis. Document why it is there. If the data is correct for who you have decided this combined Davis is going to be, leave it there. If it is not for him remove it from the combined Davis.
- When you come to a source, detach it and reattach it to the correct MY or HIS Davis. Put a reason statement.
- When you come to a parent, spouse or child, add the parent, spouse or child to the correct MY or HIS Davis. Do not detach them from the combined Davis yet.
- When you come to a merge, Restore the Davis that was merged in. Keep a record of that ID.
- Ignore all Hints and Possible Duplicates that will come and go during this process.
- When you get to the end of the Change Log, you should have correct information, sources, and family on MY Davis and HIS Davis and the combined Mr. Davis should have only correct data for who he is going to be and no sources. In the best situation, that information will agree with his very earliest data in his change log.
- Take each of the IDs that you restored and go through the same process of evaluating their data change longs and deciding whether the ID is MY Davis or HIS Davis or another person altogether. Most likely their changes logs will be far shorter. There is a good chance that you will find more individuals who were merged in and need to be restored. When you have isolated out the base person for each of these restored IDs and documented who they were, merge them with MY Davis MY and HIS Davis HIS as appropriate or leave them out if they are neither one.
- After dealing with each ID and merging or not merging correctly, check all the parents, children, and spouses now on MY Davis MY and HIS David HIS and as you do so detach each one from the combined Davis.
- Add a custom fact to the combined Davis, something along the lines of "This Davis was a confused combination of (enter a number here) men of the same name and similar but different data. He has been thoroughly untangled and separated out into his component parts."
- Merge the combined Davis with who he turned out to be originally.
- Review any Hints or Possible Duplicates. Attach the hints or dismiss them as Not A Match as appropriate. Merge Duplicates that have appeared or dismiss them as Not A Match.
- Take the MY and HIS off the names.
- Go have a hot fudge sundae.
You will now have correct records for all the Davis who fell out of this combined one with accurate data and correct sources for all of them. Having both of them completely documented and all incorrect information removed from both of them is what will keep others from changing them further. This is not as complicated as it looks at first glance and is a very worthwhile process4
Welcome to FamilySearch's Community @JohnDavis39. Here are a few articles from the Help Center that might be helpful:
The World’s Largest Shared Family Tree
How do I see what changes were made about a person in Family Tree?
How do I undo an incorrect change in Family Tree?
How do I undo a merge in Family Tree?
How do I correct parent-child relationships in Family Tree?
How can I prevent other people from making inaccurate changes to Family Tree?1
I'll have to say that one of the bigger problems in Family Tree are users who do not understand the concept of a universal tree and who still think they are working in "their own" tree. I'm afraid that too many people run across a Mr. Davis with different data and their first thought is "the data is wrong and I need to fix it" when their first though really should be "this is not my Mr. Davis so I'll just ignore him." This is compounded by the problem of people who take computer generated Hints to be absolute fact instead of realizing there is a 2 to 5% error rate with hints and who take Possible Duplicates to be absolutely duplicates instead of evaluating them and rejecting incorrect ones.
However, clear complete data with full sources and being the first one if possible to deal with all research helps goes a long way in mitigating such problems.3