Uncontrolled GEDCOM uploads create animosity among users
Despite some assuming that GEDCOM uploads aren't much of a problem, that is just not true. In the past six months I have experienced two such uploads connecting to the same Revolutionary War era record. The first one was a conflation of another family and was relatively 'easy' to separate (it only took two or three hours) although I'm sure there is another duplicate descendant tree out there that someone else is having to deal with. The second GEDCOM upload happened two days ago and created THOUSANDS of duplicate records, of which many are incorrect. I spent weeks this past winter carefully combing through this entire descendant tree, attaching Source records, researching questionable relationships, and merging plenty of already-existing duplicates in certain families. And with an unwitting mouse-click, all of that work has to be done AGAIN! It will take weeks! Although I always strive to keep my communications civil I had very ugly feelings toward these users.
I now realize that the people uploading their GEDCOMS didn't have any idea what was happening. That is what is so very alarming. If enormous GEDCOM uploads continue to be allowed, the Family Tree will soon become unusable. The Family Tree is now filled out enough that GEDCOM uploads are a clear liability and should be discontinued. IF any GEDCOM uploads continue to be allowed, they should not be allowed to exceed - AT MOST - 50 records.
For starters, new users do not understand the concept of one shared, public tree because they've not experienced that anywhere else. I don't care how many times the word Shared is repeated on the FamilySearch landing page. They do not yet understand what that word means in this context. The very fact that users can so easily upload their own GEDCOM tree 'tells' them that FamilySearch works just the same as Ancestry and the other platforms with private tree space. Otherwise, their thinking goes, they wouldn't be allowed to mess things up that easily.
There's another important side to this too: when someone who has been working long and hard on their tree suddenly sees another user making a huge mess by conflating and duplicating records with apparent abandon, it has the very real potential to create some undeserved animosity via the Message channel. This gap in the FamilySearch technology is actually engendering anger and hatred because neither party understands that it's the technology that is at fault. I manage to keep a civil cap on my communications but my feelings toward these other users were very ugly until I realized where the real problem lay.
That is exactly what this uncontrolled GEDCOM upload situation is doing.
I should also point out that the Revolutionary War era person who has been the brunt of these two GEDCOM uploads also has an Alert posted on the record. When a GEDCOM is uploaded and attached to this record, it makes it seem that the person attaching the new duplicates has completely disregarded EVERYTHING other users have tried to prevent happening. Perhaps a starting point for taming GEDCOM uploads would be to make it impossible to automatically attach anything to a record with an ALERT message enabled.
Given the age of the compare-and-add programming, I think it's highly likely that there was no sign whatsoever anywhere of any of the collaboration notes -- alerts or not -- when the uploader added his stuff. So yeah, he "completely disregarded" other users' messages -- because he wasn't aware of their existence.
That's the basic problem with the whole process: it fails to show users any of the details they need for making good decisions. Is it any wonder, then, that they make bad ones?4