Allow volunteer teams to manage frequently-edited person profiles
Many contributors are interested in important or controversial historical figures in FamilyTree. This can lead to many back-and-forth edits, with major changes made every week--or even every day--to these people. These edit wars discourage skilled researchers from working on these profiles, because there is little point in pouring in hours of work only for it to be changed in the next few days. The overwhelming number of edits make it very difficult for anybody attempting to "follow" or keep their ancestor's information accurate, not to mention all the duplication of effort.
For a few examples, see King Henry VIII (G7B3-SGP), or Mayflower passenger Francis Cooke (LZ2F-MM7), or Acadian ancestor Francois Savoie (LHXQ-QBY), or Pocahontas (LKF1-HNG). For another extreme example, see the record for Jesus (LDLR-236) where every day there are edits made back and forth.
Currently, some historical figures are set to "Read-Only" status by FamilySearch. Unfortunately, there do not seem to be dedicated volunteers working on improving these person records, and there is no method for contributors to suggest edits or participate in the discussion section. (See Hugh Williamson L657-T36 as an example).
My suggestion is to create a system that would allow frequently-edited profiles to be run by a volunteer team, who would work on improving the person profile, and allow all other contributors to suggest edits (maybe similar to Find-A-Grave or project-protected profiles on WikiTree) and post in the discussion section:
- FamilySearch would identify frequently-edited profiles (just a handful to start with), and allow any contributor to apply to be a team leader for the person profile.
- The person applying to be a team leader would be required to write a detailed genealogical proof summary or proof argument for the person profile in question, listing reliable sources (they can link to the url of each source as a reference), writing an analysis of the sources and what is known and not known about the person, discussing any common genealogical theories, and displaying their ability to write well-reasoned genealogical statements in neutral language. (I'm not a professional genealogist; my apologies if I'm using some of these terms wrong)
- The proof summary could be publicly posted in the "collaborate" section of the profile, with the ability for other contributors to post their comments/feedback.
- After a certain amount of time has passed to allow for discussion and debate (say for example, 60 days), a person from FamilySearch would be responsible for reviewing the proof argument(s) and related discussions. Any contributor who wrote a sufficient proof argument would be assigned to be a team leader. If a proof argument is found to be insufficient, that contributor's application would be denied.
- After at least one team leader is assigned to the person profile, the profile is locked for editing by outside contributors.
- The team leader would be responsible for adding and removing additional team members. The team leader would have to agree to dedicate their time to coordinating the team and improving the person profile. If they can no longer dedicate their time as the team leader, they can assign another team member to be the team leader.
The goals of the volunteer team for each person profile would be:
- Attach reliable sources to and write well-reasoned "Reason This Information Is Correct" statements on every fact displayed in the profile (birth/death/alternate names/custom events) as well as on every relationship link attached to the person (every spouse and child, and especially any attached parents)
- Write a brief life sketch to be displayed in the "about" page
- Write any necessary notes, and keep the information in the person record organized and informative
- Review and respond to any discussions posted in the "collaborate" section
- Seek and merge any duplicates
The recent improvement of being able to add an "alert note" has been helpful in reducing erroneous edits on some profiles. But for the most "popular" profiles--it is still not enough and the frequent unsupported edits continue.
A system like this would greatly improve the accuracy and reliability of these important person profiles. Some people might call it "gatekeeping"--but honestly, some gatekeeping is desperately needed. There is too much misinformation out there, let the skilled genealogists take responsibility for keeping these controversial profiles accurate.
Oh that sounds fantastic! Your suggestion is exactly what is needed. FamilySearch has needed to do this for a long time now. Just think how much time it would actually save their people to just do this 1 thing, instead of trying to solve or help with just 1 aspect of it then replying and sending useless emails back and forth to the Family Search people that never seem to have the time or experience to even read through to the end of the email or post that you originally sent them to try to get a problem corrected. The amount of time spent by a guest of their site to try to get a problem fixed or a correction made is absolutely a crazy amount of hours. The time spent by FamilySearch to read and reply amounts to about 2 minutes, and always seems to need several more hours of back and forth emails only because they dont take the time to read what was written in the original post or email. Your suggestion would stop all or most of the waisted time spent by both parties and frustration I'll add, because you will be dealing with either 1 person, or 1 team of people, not thousands of them, where you talk to a different person everytime and basically have to start over from the beginning with each new person.
Please make sure your suggestion is heard because your suggestion is so desperately needed.
I hit the upvote button.0
There is a problem with this suggestion. Some of these people, such as Henry VIII, are the stuff of PhD level research for even the smallest elements of their lives. No one with an interest that is hobby in nature would be qualified to manage his account. Not even a committee of Henry VIII fan club members should qualify. Only those whose academic careers have been focused on his life should be eligible to apply as manager. Most experts would take it a step further and say only British academics should be eligible since the preponderance of research on Henry VIII has been done in the UK. This type of argument will apply across the board to all the famous people in history that would be the type of famous person being referred to in this suggestion. And, I would be surprised if anyone academically qualified like that would step up and do this.
This really begs the idea of why then do we care what is in FamilySearch for these famous people? Answer is, we shouldn't. Reliable information will always be elsewhere. New information will always be elsewhere. FamilySearch is a genealogy site and NOT a site where you come for academic research. Henry VIII (and other such high profile people) should really be converted to a read only PLACEHOLDER record with the absolute minimum of information BECAUSE he is there only for genealogy research. His brief life sketch or notes or discussions should contain NOTHING MORE than links to academic sites, lists of books and other publications about him, Youtube channels about him and finally public forums such as Facebook and the like where HE is the topic of discussion and people can argue about him till the cows come home.
Then everybody will get what they need. People interested in learning or debating about Henry VIII can go elsewhere and people interested in his lineage can finally have a stable rock for their research in FamilySearch.5
Thanks for the thoughtful response Gail. Essentially I agree with you, I do not think it would not be necessary for people managing Henry VIII to do their own academic research on him. Like you said, we would be unlikely to recruit a true expert; the managers would simply need to know where to go to find reliable published resources and research about Henry VIII (work that has already been done by the experts). They would then summarize that research in the FamilySearch profile and point people towards those reliable sources for further review. His profile does not need to be 100% perfect and detailed, just "generally correct" for the purposes of creating genealogy connections to him. The current back-and-forth edits and constant changes are unfortunately very counter-productive, so some sort of solution where profiles like this are locked are read-only should be considered.0
I have seen on some FamilySearch profiles that they have made them READ ONLY, so they do already have that ability.
Now why they do not put the "read only" on some of the other famous people that really need it on their profiles, I have no idea.
This is a good example for your original suggestion to have a specific team or group of people to be dedicated to some of these profiles.1