Allow users to "lock" a person or couple's records from being edited.
edited September 28, 2020 in Suggest an Idea
russellclintonduncan said: I think it would be great to have a "lock" option in Family Tree in which once a record has been completed and all the information is finalized, that no other users can change it. I don't want another user to come along and change a person (or couple) after I've spent a lot of time confirming all the information (birth/death dates, marriages, places, full name, ordinances, and maybe even parents and children.) Once its all correct, why should someone be able to (or need to) change it? They can ADD things, but they should not be able to remove existing info. it would also make it easy for me to see whose work has all been done and where i need to pick up from.
Randy Hoffman said: Personally, I think that gives one person too much power, and establishes an "I'm right and anything you may do will be wrong" mentality.
What about something like:
Submitting the person as complete
Any descendants who are active in family history are notified
If at least two other people review the records and agree, then it can be locked down.0
russellclintonduncan said: I certainly don't believe I am always right. I just want a way to prevent someone from coming along and changing the dates/places on say, my mother's record or link her to a man who was never her husband, when clearly such a relationship would be wrong/incorrect. (I've had that happen before to people in my immediate family tree). Having at least one other user confirm it is a great idea! You mention that "Any descendants who are active in family history are notified" does this mean that Family Tree has a way of knowing if any particular person/record in family tree is related to me?0
russellclintonduncan said: Another option is to simply allow users to unlock a record in a certain way, so it can be easily changed if it really needs to. Either way, the lock should not be entirely permanent. Its just a way to tell others "hey, this record is complete. no need to work on it further." so they can move on and not waste time 'correcting' others' work.0
Woodley Bingham Shipp said: No way should this be done. To presume one knows everything is a step too far. The correction capability in Family Tree is to make the records as complete and accurate as we can. That would give the people who think they are "right" the ability to lock out others who have proof they are not. A way to emphasize a source to prove the accuracy of the data like "see source attached to this event to prove it's accuracy - please do not change" would be of value.0
Jade said: Agree completely with Woodley. Being 'done' is a subjective judgment and should never be subject to a "vote." What if a seeker spent 20 years putting queries on message boards and mailing lists and confined searching to the internet? They would not find a court record that detailed a person's prior marriage and child(ren), even if they managed to find a death record on the web. What if descendants had concluded they knew who all the children were of a couple, but neglected to go to the courthouse to find a lawsuit where one of the children was detailed as borne by a woman before marriage, and neglected to find the child's death record where her husband said who he thought the father was. These, by the way, are real-life situations in one of my extended family groups.
In addition to just insufficient research, let's face it: anyone can make mistakes, such as confusing/conflating 2 (or 3 or 4!) persons by the same name living in the same neighborhood (another situation repeated several times in another of my family groups).
So, unh-unh, folks, a poor genealogical approach.0
russellclintonduncan said: What about people who think they know better and want to change everyone else's records? It is a two-edged sword. I'm perfectly aware that this feature could be used against me, that I may come across a record that (in my arrogance) I think is wrong and I can't change it. It is BECAUSE people think they know better that I want this feature to be implemented. What I want is to keep from having to constantly monitor and maintain the records that I (and others) have already done that are obviously correct and complete (like the fact that my mother died on such and such a date. I know it is correct because I was there when she died, and I don't want somebody changing it.) Isn't it just like the current feature that allows users to reserve ordinances, so no one else can do them? I should be able to reserve a person/record that is closely related to me so no one else can change it.0
Cynthia Louise Van Dam said: I agree with Randy. There ought to be several people reviewing it. That helps prevent errors. More eyes may also add new insights and new finds of records or resources. Jade is right new sources may be found. A person from a different line of the family might have a journal,photo, etc.I do realize, your lock down suggestion won't prevent additional information. But several sets of eyes are always better than one.
Open records like familytree do allow people to change records of close relatives, but even being there isn't enough. A great grandfather of mine adopted two of his grandchildren. His other children didn't know the boys were adopted. Adults in the next generation down did.
This other post is sort of on the opposite side of the problem. Someone has suggested a way to automatically send an alert for problems like having children 100 years after the person has died. https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea...0
frostfree12 said: "There ought to be several people reviewing it. That helps prevent errors."
That depends on what the people have to work with. For some of my family lines there are dozens of trees on the web with erroneous underpinnings, all copied from a 1960s book that had a lot of purely speculative assertions (but it was a source, right?) but not one of them states where the junk was coming from.
One person changed some stuff in FS-FT for one of my ancestors giving as reason a tree on a website that had correct information about a quite different person with whom there was no family connection to my ancestor-by-the-same-name.
Once again we have discussion based on some who don't want to let others change stuff in FS-FT. The designers of FS-FT as a Wiki have some long-term confidence that (over time) the huge number of errors will be fixed and those added will be minimal.
Time will tell. But for now it is a Wiki: anyone can change anything (nearly).
Since those who want to "lock" some data can be just as wrong as anyone who may make a mistaken change, I think it would be a major mistake to twiddle with allowing some to lock data and "votes" on what some believe to be true.0
Kathryn Grant said: As much as I have wished to lock some records in my family lines I also agree it's not a feasible solution for the reasons mentioned above. I could see it becoming an arbitration nightmare.
But I do agree wholeheartedly that better controls are needed. I personally feel they need to be 1) in the application (e.g., don't allow a user to add a child who was born before her parents), and 2) in some kind of certification for users before they are allowed to make error-prone changes.
I respectfully disagree that the Wiki-like approach in FT will result in fewer errors. I think this assumption is based on inaccurate comparisons of FT to existing Internet sites, an overly-optimistic assessment of human nature, and an underestimation of the care required to do accurate family history work.
Over the years as a consultant and active researcher, I've observed that many people shy away from the hard and somewhat tedious work of valid research. They take short-cuts, jump to conclusions, and propagate errors. I don't see any way to stop this kind of widespread behavior without some kind of minimal certification.
It's kind of like learning to drive a car. We wouldn't just put someone behind the wheel with no training whatsoever. We also wouldn't make them get a four-year degree in order to drive. But we do require them to demonstrate some basic knowledge and understanding of safety and traffic laws. I believe something similar is needed for a database which is supposed to become an accurate world family tree.0
Randy Hoffman said: I have no idea if the Family Tree could do that, but I would guess it could at some future date.
Especially for immediate relatives, I like this idea more. It would be nice, once an immediate relative has passed away to lock down certain part of their record, such as adding parents or spouses.0
Randy Hoffman said: I think a pre-requisite of locking down any information is that at least one source would need to be attached. Then others could review the source material. Perhaps some sort of help document could be linked to with tips on how to evaluate a source.0
Randy Hoffman said: Hi Kathryn, you are missed on Yammer!
Even though you don't like the idea, I like your use of the word "arbitration." Except for the fact that we can't communicate with arbitrators in indexing, the system works really well. It could get complicated in dealing with people from the 1800's and back, but when we can prove so much for recently deceased individuals, it would be great to have an arbitration system in place for that, which would allow us to lock down some records.
I think another great idea would be to have a warning pop-up whenever someone tries to change a sourced fact, or merge individuals where either has sources attached.0
joe martel said: There are multiple models to consider manipulating data and collaboration. The most control is provided to users of there own personal "My Trees". The most collaborative are multiple users working on tree(s).
From the perspective of FamilyTree it sides on a highly collaborative but single "Our Tree". Data is only complete as the evidence that supports it. The OpenEdit nature of FT relies heavily on evidence (Sources) and impedance (Reasons, Watch&Notify, ChangeLog, Restore). The idea is to leverage the community similar to a wiki-model with minimal administration and arbitration - hoping the community can work together.
I like seeing ideas and working out the details here. Granted there is work to do to fine-tune the experience. There is a lot of design work around private and shared data for living data. Having data of deceased in these private spaces was considered but the concern is users would lock that data into a MyTrees model thus circumventing the power of community.0
Randy Hoffman said: Where the system allows a user to view and edit information and the only time they see a source is a little below the event before you click the edit button (if the event was tagged), then the system also relies too heavily on the knowledge and attitudes of the learners. If someone is in the "grandma got it right" camp, they need to be re-educated about sources, and the system can at least attempt to accomplish that. When you click to edit a sourced event, there should be a pop-up, reminding you to review the sources before making the change.
Something similar should also be mandatory in the API.0
Charlie Black said: I wholeheartedly agree that better controls are needed on records particcularly when it comes to duplicate record merging. The "leverage the community similar to a wiki-model" approach does not work well when it comes to record mergers. There are way too many users who are merging records without understanding what they are doing. And unmerging these records is extremely cumbersome - impossible if one fails to notice the incorrect mergers in time. The problem is increasing not decreasing which I suspect can be attributed to the ease with which information can now be "shared" between FT and commerical software. I am finding so many fouled-up records that I have stopped entering information into FT. It's not worth my time.
I strongly urge FT to implement a records management approach similar to that of Find-a-Grave. Their system allows all users to comment on all memorials, but only one user has overall maintenance responsibilities for the memorial. If a memorial manager remains unresponsive in correcting a problem or transferring maintenance responsibilities, other users have recourse to have the memorial changed.0
Jade said: Randy, as noted above a "source" can have completely wrong or totally inapplicable data (same name = same person, no evidence of a connection; or same surname = same family, no evidence of connection shown). Immense numbers of trees are based on such stuff at best -- including tree data that was part of the database put into new.FamilySearch.
Some persons quite strongly *believe* such data, and may not be at all interested in pursuing evidentiary research.
Right now I am reviewing results concerning a family that required fairly contemporaneous documentation in land and estate records from two Indiana counties and two Ohio counties, none of which are handily indexed or readily available on the internet, plus later Civil War Pension Application files accessible only from the National Archives. The evidence in all of these sources are necessary to form a fairly complete picture of actual configuration of 3 generations. There are several internet-accessible and published materials which state wrong data on this group. Some present-day relatives *believe* the most widely promulgated material (applications for membership in DAR) which has wrong vital dates and incomplete marriage data. Around 700 pages of actual documentation is available. "One source" is not adequate and may be quite wrong, and finding the documentation took a lot of digging which few are willing to undertake.
Accurate genealogy is seldom as simple as a one-*source* reference.
Here is an outline on how to evaluate data in sources:
Also see links from this post in Michael Hait's blog:
Randy Hoffman said: I would rather have them looking at the wrong person in a source than not looking at the sources at all, which is what the system currently allows. I also don't believe that anyone would ever expect members of the Church to evaluate their sources at the same level as BCG. The overall purpose of the Tree is not to provide professional-level conclusions, complete with polished proof statements, or to appease the professional crowd. The tree is a group of beginners plugging along the best they can.0
Jade said: Randy, you note "The tree is a group of beginners plugging along the best they can."
This well describes the vast majority of agglomeration of web-hosted trees, whose original sources and copies constitute much of FS-FT.
All the more reason not to begin some "locking" procedure.
The BCG outline linked above is simply a thought process: how have I come to believe what I think is true? Is there evidence for it?
A conclusion may be arrived at through jumping, through "same name = same person" with little surrounding corroboration, or through evaluation of as much evidence as can be found. The "professional crowd" can make just as many mistakes as anyone else. The basis of a conclusion has to be the existing evidence, regardless who does the evaluation.0
Randy Hoffman said: Alright, I apologize for not looking at the BCG site and giving a knee-jerk reaction to their being mentioned. I disagree with some of what BCG says as individuals try to apply it to FamilySearch, so I assumed I would disagree with what was said in the link.
But I think the fact that they are beginners is one reason why something needs to be done to point them in the right direction, and my initial comment here would work for that. The help link I mentioned could even incorporate some of the principles from the BCG link. As it is, individuals either make up what "research" is as they go along, or they follow in the footsteps of their parents or grandparents.
I do agree that locking is good, but it should be very carefully done, depending on the situation. In the situation that kicked off this discussion, a son should be able to lock down his recently deceased mother's death and burial information. When it comes to people from 100 years ago, the process of locking it down needs to become more rigorous. I really like the idea of locking down one chunk at a time, such as death or burial information, or relationships. I also think that the process for unlocking it should be reasonably simple. For example, if you come forward with your 300 pages of evidence and request that a record be unlocked, someone could evaluate your evidence and unlock it.0
Kurt Matthia said: No user should be able to lock a record. They could well die the next day. More likely they will only log in once or twice, never to be heard from again.
Another possibility would be to allow "certified" family organizations or other groups to somehow raise the bar on making a change to well-researched individuals. They would have to have the ability to put a watch on someone, be given notice to some official of the group, and then have a fixed period of time to either allow (in effect certify) or deny the change. Otherwise it would go through as entered.
These groups would need a "corporate" log-in because their individual members would change over time. A departing member cannot have all the group interests on their personal watch list.0
Randy Hoffman said: I don't believe anyone here is suggesting that the person who locks the record is the only person who would be allowed to unlock it.0
Jade said: The original poster appears to be wanting no one but himself to be able to make changes in some instances.0
russellclintonduncan said: No, I don't want any changes to be made. Once a person has a correct death date, that should never change. I guess I should not have used the word "lock". Perhaps "approve"? It should be able to be unlocked under certain circumstances. And, not all the info should be locked; only portions of it. I love how people jump to conclusions on this discussion board and read way too much into something, or criticize it without offering alternatives or ideas for improvement.0
russellclintonduncan said: I think the pop-up is a great idea. We just need some kind of message telling the user to think twice about changing certain information.0
russellclintonduncan said: Agree 100% with Randy's last paragraph.0
Kathryn Grant said: Thanks, Randy! Interesting you should mention Yammer--Sunday I just got an invitation for the new family history group there, so I was able to get back on. I'm psyched & happy to be back!!
As far as arbitration, I liked Charlie's suggestion of a record steward, similar to what's done on findagrave.com. That person could serve as a sort of abitrator. But Kurt's concern is a valid one: what if the record steward dies or disappears?
No simple answers0
Cathy Anderegg said: Yes, FamilySearch does have a way of knowing when users are related to each other. Please note the Relationship notification in Photos.0
Kathryn Grant said: This is a great discussion!
Okay, here are some thoughts on how we could possibly make "locking" work.
1. Locking would be done on an element of information in a person's record, not on the entire record. For instance, I could lock a birth date without having to lock anything else on the record. Locked elements would have a little lock icon (see mockup below).
2. In order to lock information, a user would be required to provide at least one legitimate source for that information ("Grandma says so" doesn't count )
3. Here's the thing that could make it work with the current open-edit model: Anyone could lock an element, and anyone could unlock it.
You might say, "What good is this kind of 'locking' if anyone can do it or undo it?" Here's why I think it could work:
1. The purpose of adding a lock would not be to keep people from making changes. Rather, it would be a strong visual cue that the information is considered solid and shouldn't be changed without a good reason.
2. I think it would discourage casual users who make changes because "Grandma said so," especially if they have to provide a source. Probably only those with strong evidence would go to the trouble of making a change.
3. Whenever someone unlocked an element of information, they would have to explain why. Lockers would be notified if their locks were removed or changed. If a user was found to be removing locks frivolously, they could be reported and possibly lose their access if their behavior persisted.
4. Locked data could not be deleted or overridden in a merge. The exception would be if identical data were locked on both the left and right sides (e.g., exact same birth date). But if either side had locked data that conflicted, the conflicts would have to be resolved before completing the merge. I believe this would cut down on incorrect merges.
5. 3rd party programs would not be allowed to override locked data. A human being would need to make that call.
These are just some initial ideas, so refinements are no doubt needed. Thoughts? Feedback?
joe martel said: Very interesting Kathryn. We all know this is a huge coding change in the model but I like some of the impedance it adds, yet maintains the OpenEdit model. The difficulty will come as we deal with a locking model for Relationships. They are so much more fluid and not contained within a Person, they cross multiple (2-3) persons. Keep these ideas coming.0
Cathy Anderegg said: No one should be allowed to Lock a record (except those who have been specifically assigned by FamilySearch to write locked Read-only records for the famous and infamous).
It seems to me that several things are being and should be done to prevent unwanted edits and merges:
1. Users need to find the best Sources possible for each line of data. These sources are being displayed at the bottom of a Merge.
2. Then Tag the Sources to what they prove, ie. name, dates, places, gender, relationships so when someone goes to edit for example a name, the sources are sitting right there and can be opened and the original document looked at.
Suggestion for Merge: If sources are tagged to lines of data, display the sources in a Merge right under the data and not just way down at the bottom of the Merge page.
3. Improvement is coming: The Report Abuse alert is coming to the front of the Person Page, in addition to being inside the Source template. Making it more visible and available, should be a caution to careless users. Suggestion: Have Report Abuse inside the Couples' Relationship Box and Parent/Child relationship Box too!
4. Report Abuse needs to expand it's definition of what abuse is (ads, inapproapriate urls, etc.) to include what appears to be malicious or thoughtless edits. Suggestion: please add an Report Abuse Alert to Edit so when someone clicks on Edit, it pops up with cautions like: Do you really want to edit this name when there are sources tagged to it verifying it? And then an explanation to go to Other Information, click on Add and then Alternate Name for possible nicknames, alternate spellings, also known as, other.
5. Settings is now fixed, and we "knowledgeable" users need to inform all users with whom we come in contact that they need to make themselves Public or Visible, so that worried users like russel will be able to contact them and have a discussion.
6. Then if the edit-happy user won't listen to reason and review the sources, report them. Malicious users or even those who just fail to collaborate with others in a friendly manner can get suspended from using Family Tree. (See Conditions of Use)
7. The Merge Process needs to have a cautionary alert much like was added to Delete Person which explains the ramifications of a merge between two records.
(I.E. Record A already has a set of parents, Record B has another, different set. Do you really want to merge these two?)(Or Record A only has two lines of data, Name and Gender and no other pieces of information. Do you really want to Merge Record B with it when Record B has name, birth, death, gender, spouse, etc,)
8. Use Discussions to talk with others about what disturbs you. Improvement coming: It has been proposed that there will be a direct way to contact another user for discussions and not just wait until they discover the comment you have posted in Discussions. So keep fingers crossed that this happens sooner than later.0