How much "editing" of data when viewing records by users is appropriate ???
Just what is appropriate when editing the data from a record where it is allowed by Family Search such as many census, marriage, and birth records? For example, should "St. Joseph" as entered on the index to that record be edited to "Saint Joseph" just to make it a standardized location name within Family Search's database? I suppose there are pros and cons to any answer. If changed to a standardized name, then other users who are searching records and using the full standarized spelling would find it more inclusive. Others may say that it is changing the way the enumerator or clerk actually created the record.
On a similar note, just what is appropriate for changing the spelling of names? There could be many types of examples here but in my mind the most blaring example would be a perceived spelling error. For example, should "Willy" be changed to "Willie" especially if the user knows that "Willie" was the preferred and predominant spelling by the person in the record. Going one step further should "Micheal" be edited to "Michael"?
Personally I am leaning towards correcting all spellings and usages. After all, we are not really changing the original record but rather the database entries thereby making it easier for all users to accomplish research as long as they maintain their own use of standardized location names and common spellings.
I don't see any guidance on this editing feature by Family Search so your thoughts would be appreciated.
The goal of indexing is to make the records searchable. If my edit will make it easier for someone to find the record and match it with the correct person that is a positive reason to make an edit. Sometimes the spelling or handwriting is horrible and I will correct that but I do not make little St to Saint or Willie to Willy because the computer can pick up those changes in the search engine.0
Your first sentence is spot-on. But your comment about "the computer can pick up those changes in the search engine" may not be entirely true. Not all search engines are created equal. Some are very finicky about matches and spelling whereas most will use some sort of fuzzy logic to provide equally reliable matches.
I guess the main point I'm trying to make is that even FS does not adhere to its own "standards" in indexing. For example, it declares a location of "St Johns, Clinton, Michigan" as a non-standard location name. But begin to edit that name to "St. Johns, Clinton, Michigan" and then FS says everything is hunkie-dory. Notice that by only adding the period after "St" does FS wake up to recognize the location properly.
In addition, I don't know for sure if it was a recent inconspicuous change or not, but many locations are now indexed with the word Township added to the name whenever appropriate in order to distinguish it from a city with the same name typically located in the same township. For example, standardized location names include "Winona, Winona, Minnesota" (which will designate the city) and there is also "Winona Township, Winona, Minnesota" (which will designate the township). But there are exceptions to that rule within FS's standarization. One example is Delta Township located in Eaton County, Michigan. If you type in "Delta Township, Eaton, Michigan", FS replies that "No standard is selected". If you type in "Delta, Eaton, Michigan" then FS replies that is an acceptable standard that refers to a township and not a city or village. Go figure!0
Brian, Do what you can to edit to make them better to be found. The computer search is set up to recoginize some variations such as Olsen and Olson. It will ignore whether you enter township if you have the right state. Most editing opportunities deal with people's names By you editing a record that is incorrect whether the person who wrote the original record is wrong or whether the handwriting is horrible you are making it recognized to be searched and found by others.
We as searchers also need to know to look broad, search Michigan vs a certain city in Michigan. We need to use the ? and * to replace characters. I use both FamilySearch and Ancestry to search for people because Ancestry will bring up records that FamilySearch does not and vice versa. Sometimes because of the editing done on Ancestry and because the indexers who originally transcribed did a better job.
Edit where you can to make it better, but we also need to search by many variables. Sometimes searching with all vital dates (birth, marriage, death) brings up different results than just birth information. So searching involves more than just what is on a record. Also the standardization is more for the mapping feature than it is for the search feature so it helps to standardize but it doesnt stop a search either.0