How to start over with a family tree?
I'd like to know the best course of action for correcting mistakes in the family tree made by other users. They've incorrectly linked profiles with incorrect relationships. The folks are not even remotely related to the people on the line on which I had been working. I reached out to the person that keeps making the changes and have not received a response. Now I have to deal with hints that are not helpful at all because I'm not related to the people in the hints. So, besides trying to work with folks that are either inexperienced, careless, or indifferent, how can this branch be fixed? If I delete my current profile on FamilySearch and start a new one, will that work? Or is the only option to continue with the messed up branch of the tree? Maybe the solution is to not use the site for the family tree feature?
It's all one tree that we collaborate on, so no, creating a new account is not the recommended method for dealing with errors.
Most often, "collisions" are due to mistaken identity: someone decided that your relative's profile was for his relative. (The two people needn't even be particularly similar for people to make such leaps, unfortunately. "He changed his name completely when he moved", donchaknow. Yes, that did actually happen, sometimes, but.)
Being a collaborative project, the tree doesn't generally allow you to delete profiles. What you can delete are relationships -- although if you can find the correct relationship, then it's better to replace rather than remove, because that makes it less likely that the mistake will get re-added.
You'll be exploring change logs to figure out who's who and what happened. This can get highly confusing; I find it helps to keep in mind that the log does not have "undo" buttons. It has "redo" buttons instead: to restore a conclusion to a previous state, you have to find where that previous state was entered, not where it was changed. Once you sort out the people, you'll also want to go through and sort out the sources and the things like residences that got added based on those sources.
All that said.... Do as I say, not as I do: when someone "hijacked" a relative of mine and added a ridiculous number of children (in a different crown land and of a different religion), I ended up throwing my hands in the air and abandoning him to his ignominous fate -- it was easier to just create new profiles for my relative and his wife, and replace the old profiles with the new as the parents of their actual children.1
I find such frustrating too. People should try to take more care. If you can share a Person ID - someone here in Community can get a better idea of the types of problems with profiles you are experiencing. Without an example it's probably best to mention there may not be an easy fix ... But perhaps three basic approaches:
1. (Take a deep breath before doing this approach -Fix the problem) From a conflated profile - examine the Latest Changes to attempt determining where the profile took a wrong turn and looking for a RESTORE option for where the profile was correct. One of the difficulties with this option there may be multiple changes that have to be reverted and I am unsure whether RESTORE handled this completely (if it does - I need to learn that better).
2. (Ignore fixing the problem) Add a duplicate profile for the person you believe belongs (which won't fix the bad hints - but may confuse the other contributors inputting 'bad' information to the point they are frustrated too and maybe respond to you). You can also set the preferred tree relationships to this duplicate (to help you keep straight which people you are interested in).
3. (Similar to #2 Side-step or work around the problem) There are some 3rd party tree management solutions with FamilySearch tree-sync capability. Using one of them allows you to view your research/tree and sync that with FamilySearch. I believe it might also not fix the conflation - but might make keeping 'your tree' straight/easier.1
As for ironing out convoluted families, I have another suggestion.
[Disclaimer: I'm going to suggest using Ancestry as a scratch pad. That ain't free so I'm suggesting it to LDS Church members and anyone else with access to Ancestry.]
One of Ancestry's strengths is it's ability to function as a chalkboard. On their site it is trivial to create a family from scratch and then add/delete people (& sources) as understanding grows.
Conversely, on FamilySearch we work with preexisting families that are somewhat anchored in place by ordinances. Since we can't scrap the whole lot, we have to work with what we have - and trying to puzzle out what pieces fit where is a lot harder when it's a mess in front of us.
Personally, I get really overwhelmed by it.
What eases that tension is having a safe space to build out a hypothesis and having the room to cut away chunks of the family when my theory gets disproven. For all of Ancestry's problems, it does a really good job of providing that space. For every minute I spend entering data into FS, I've spent 30 min prepping the data in Ancestry.
Lastly, I seem to be in the group that did not fully adapt to FamilySearch's new layout. For me, info does not gel into an overview like it once did and glancing at profiles is giving a less-complete mental picture. C'est la vie.
I am adapting however. In this case it means working everything thru on Ancestry first. I'll do the research on FS, Ancestry, MyHeritage, etc but I'm building out the family in Ancestry. When my Ancestry family is as complete as I can make it, I compare it it against FS and fill in any blanks.0
Everybody thinks you have to pay to use Ancestry, but that isn't the case. You can have a free guest account and basically do what @No one in particular is talking about. There are things you can't do with a free account. To see what is free and what you have to pay for, read the article at the link below. I second the motion that Ancestry is a great place to build experimental trees. I have several experimental ones, several real ones, and I'm getting ready to build another experimental tree soon.
Here are a few articles from the Help Center that might be helpful:
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?1
Thank you all for your suggestions! At least I know I'm not alone with my frustration and I have some options to consider helping me get past the frustration and to a solution for making the Family Search family tree work.1