Collaborate: Discussions vs. Notes, tutorial to explain.
Suggestion to FamilySearch designers: Under Person, under Collaborate; it is not clear what the difference is between Discussions and Notes and how to use either. As most users are new/untrained, please provide a pop-up tutorial to explain the difference and how to use.
Gail Swihart Watson ✭✭✭✭✭
@W Andrews The history behind these areas AND Brief Life History is almost comical at this point. How to use the three and whether they were necessary was hotly debated for months during the Beta period of the New Person Page.
I think you can use these guidelines, although I feel there really is no hard and fast rule:
Use notes when you have information you want to convey. If you believe this information is critical enough that it should be a notice across the top as people access the person page, you can check a box to make it an alert. There is an ancestor of mine where I have done this. There are 2 boys listed as children who are not biological. One has sources for his existence in the household (1880 Census). The other boy is attached to a different family biologically and my ancestor as guardian because this child is potentially the identity of the other. No proof exists, though. Thus my alert asks people to not merge the two unless they have new evidence that these boys are the same person.
Most alerts are a caution for people to not merge two records because no evidence exists to prove they are the same person.
Use discussions when you want to debate information on the person page. To be honest, however, I never have used discussions for this. When I feel a piece of information is incorrect or in doubt, I put a note directly in the source or the fact on the details page or the Brief Life History, or in the comments to a memory. I do that because then all the conflicting information is in one place for people to see.0
The Help Articles on Discussions and Notes1
Instructions about this would be good not just for newcomers. As I understand it, the only practical difference between notes and discussions is in who can delete them. Anyone can edit or delete a note, while only the original contributor can edit or delete a discussion entry.
Having never actually used a Discussion, I have no idea how they work. If someone has replied, can the original contributor still delete the entire discussion, or do the replies stick around, orphaned of their antecedents? Or is a multi-person discussion engraved in stone, undeletable by anyone?
Given that everything is saved in the Change Log, and given the existence of the messaging system, I'm not sure what purpose Discussions really serve. Genealogical discussions are almost never confined to a single ancestor: the whole point is usually the relationships. This is why all of my collaboration conversations have been by email, where multiple profiles can easily be referenced. (Usual steps: initiate contact via internal messaging, verify interest/willingness, move to email.)
I use Notes for things like "here are all of the Szakál Istváns baptized in Bana between 1795 and 1830" and "checked for a marriage record in the following registers, haven't found them yet .... Edited to add: Found 'em!" as well as for "Two generations with exactly the same names; don't conflate them".4
"Given that everything is saved in the Change Log, and given the existence of the messaging system, I'm not sure what purpose Discussions really serve."
For me, their purpose is that only I can delete what I write in there. An alternative is to create a PDF as a Memory but that's also a misuse since I don't remember these people - it's only the degree of permanence I want.
IIRC I have never taken part in a Discussion. Not even one via email since the people who I messaged appeared to show no interest in me correcting their ancestors.0
My habit to use Notes started because Notes would appear on the bottom of the Details tab of the old Android app - and Discussion didn't appear anywhere. So, no reason I should use Discussion.
I just checked the new Android app (still unusably awful) and now Notes doesn't appear anywhere (unless I'm being dense, always possible!). So, Android users don't get Notes or Discussion. Yet another reason I avoid the new Android app.0
Steps (mobile app)
- In the Family Tree mobile app, navigate to the Person page of the person.
- If the Vitals and Other Information fields do not show, tap Details.
- Tap +.
- Tap Note.
- Enter a title for your note and also the note itself.
In the upper right portion of the screen, tap Save. https://www.familysearch.org/en/help/helpcenter/article/how-do-i-add-notes-to-a-person-in-family-tree0