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.