The "GEDCOM data" problem
I had sent this concern to the support department. They suggested I post it here, which really doesn't seem to be the appropriate place. But support will not help me with this.
I'd been noticing for a while the phrase "GEDCOM data" as "reason" for including information. I have long considered that to be a red flag. You understand, of course, that that is not a good reason for inclusion of information, particularly if the GEDCOM file and the information in it is not specified. But based on correspondences I've had with several other users, it appears that it's pasted by your system in the automatic GEDCOM merging with the public tree. I have spent many hours, even over the last three days, cleaning up records because of this -- duplicate profiles and thoughtless and unsupported links. This unfettered capability serious jeopardizes the integrity of your public tree.
I've been told by support more than once to go and start my own tree elsewhere. Of course, that's a terrible thing to say to someone who is seriously trying to make contributions. Indeed, I have been developing my own tree on a server I started in 1994, the former genealogy.org, bought by RootsWeb in 2000 and now owned by Ancestry.com. I rebranded it ancestraldata.com twenty years ago, now using it mostly for personal research as well as a support for some of the projects I administer at FTDNA.com.
But that's not the point. I refuse to use Ancestry.com for a host of reasons. This is clearly the best alternative. Besides, too many researchers have forgotten about google and my server no longer gets the hits as it once did (3 million a week in its heyday). This is the best way to get the word out. So, the point is that I chose to use familysearch.org. (Support does not understand the sentiment.)
I wrote a GEDCOM parser, one of several developed in the community that ended up being named GEDView. It was licensed by the Polish National Library in about 1995. I mention this only to demonstrate that I understand the problems with parsing and converting GEDCOM files. Indeed, I've been told by some users here that your system sometimes accepts as little as 30%. Of course, I'm seeing only a small portions of those and the vast majority has zero sources, only the "GEDCOM data" stamp, which is very annoying.
I understand the reason you would want such a tool available to your users. But the GEDCOM is only as good as the research that has gone into producing it. Unfortunately, they're generally of very poor quality.
I have very few recommendations for correcting this problem but it would boil down to better quality controls, especially of source data. If there are no sources, the record should probably be discounted. Checking to see whether the inclusion will create duplicate entries should be an easy matter to resolve, as would the issue of causing multiple linkages. For example, here's just one of the recent submissions after such a merge. I generally like to merge duped records, but there have been so many lately -- even just for the Bennett families I'm researching -- that it's becoming increasingly time-consuming. So I did the best I could today to identify the dupes and simply remove them, not the desirable the method. But imagune this happening on several occasions to dozens of profiles. I can't spent all day every day of the week dealing with this monster.
Col Charles Scarburgh I 1643-1702 LBH7-KCY
Marriage: about 1670
Accomack, Virginia, British Colonial America
Elizabeth Bennett 1642-1719 LBHW-H9L
Children of Elizabeth Bennett and Col Charles Scarburgh I (19)
Henry Scarborough 1660-1676 GZD2-671
Mary Scarborough 1660-1716 GZD2-XQT
Elizabeth Scarborough 1670-1701 GZD2-VMM
Elizabeth Scarburgh 1671-1700 GQJJ-36G
Maj Bennett Scarburgh 1673-1734 LWTX-81C
Ann Scarborough 1675-1716 GZD2-DWS
Ann Scarburgh 1675-1719 LZ6Q-DFH
John Scarborough 1676-1743 G7RW-X2M
John Scarborough 1676-1743 GZD2-L7M
Capt. Charles Scarburgh II 1677-1724 LZ6X-K2T
Captain Charles Scarborough 1677-1724 GZD2-F4R
Col. Henry Scarburgh I 1679-1735 LRK5-CPT
Maj Bennett Scarborough 1679-1735 GZD2-L79
Tabitha Scarborough 1680-1748 MW2V-WTD
Mary Scarburgh 1681-1722 L8P1-86S
Sarah Scarborough 1683-1728 GZD2-4Y2
Sarah Scarburgh 1683-1728 G7RW-JYX
William Meredith Scarborough 1690-1735 GZDK-BSB
Colonel Edmund Scarborough 1692-1753 GZD2-HTH
I'd rather spend my time doing research. But these need to be tended to right away, otherwise the whole shebang quickly goes to pot and becomes useless. Additionally, I've seen up to as many as four unrelated families merged into one. Of course, I spend time on only a small number of families key to my research, but the work put into simple maintenance is outweighing the benefits.
I really want to see FamilySearch and the public tree become successful, and I want to do my part in that. But you need to help us help you.
My immediate recommendation would be that you put a hold on the merging of private GEDCOM files until the problems can be better sorted out. That or totally rethink the public tree and concentrate on your databases.
You probably have access to my phone number. Feel free to contact me there or by email. I don't carry a cell phone so it's most likely you'll need to leave a message.
You are not alone ...
Here is what I always proffer to the Users/Patrons that reference the "Uploading" of GEDCOM Files in the "Family Tree" of 'FamilySearch'.
You can; but ...
Please Do NOT upload a GEDCOM File in "Family Tree" of 'FamilySearch'.
Upload GEDCOM File in the "Genealogies" Part of 'FamilySearch', that is fine; but, please NOT into "Family Tree" of 'FamilySearch'.
Some of the reasons that Users/Patrons (like myself) DO NOT want the ability to upload a GEDCOM File into "Family Tree" of 'FamilySearch' are:
(1) It is most likely that individuals/persons in a GEDCOM File are ALREADY in "Family Tree" of 'FamilySearch'; and, most Users/Patrons, DO NOT, even take the time to look to see if any one in their GEDCOM File is already in "Family Tree", in some instances, negating the need to even upload the GEDCOM File.
(2) There has been (many) cases where Users/Patrons, using the "Compare" process (of the upload) have "Dismissed" a "Possible" Match with an individual/person already in "Family Tree"; so that, their "Record", from their GEDCOM File, is loaded into "Family Tree", regardless; just so that, their "Record" appears in "Family Tree" (and, in some instances, for Members of the Church, so they can do the "Temple" Work, despite the fact that the "Temple" Work is ALREADY done with the "Possible" Match with the individual/person already in "Family Tree").
(3) Even with the "Compare" process (of the upload), there has been (many) cases where Users/Patrons have uploaded THEIR version of an individual/person in their GEDCOM File, on top of (ie. Over) an individual/person ALREADY in "Family Tree" of 'FamilySearch' that has been there for MANY years and is well documented and "Sources" - in many instances obliterating all of the documentation and "Sources".
(4) If an individual/person is ALREADY in "Family Tree" of 'FamilySearch', there is NO need to up uploaded one's version of an individual/person from one's own GEDCOM File - just take note of the the 'FamilySearch Person Identifier' (PID) of the individual/person that is ALREADY in "Family Tree"; and, one can go back later to ensure what information/detail is recorded and attached for that individual/person. Just DO NOT uploaded one's version of an individual/person in their GEDCOM File, on top of (ie. Over) an individual/person ALREADY in "Family Tree" - obliterating all of the documentation and "Sources" ALREADY in place/on record.
(5) The "Hours" (sometimes "Days") of work, by other Users/Patrons, that can be needed to CORRECT the DAMAGE done by the upload of a GEDCOM File can be disheartening.
I am sorry ... 'off my soap box' ...
Enter (ie. 'Create) the individuals/persons in "Family Tree" of 'FamilySearch' one at a time - on a, one by one, basis.
Many of the individuals/persons most probably ALREADY exist in "Family Tree" of 'FamilySearch'.
Only one or two generations of the "Living" individuals/persons (and, most probably, only one or two generation of the "Deceased" individuals/person) in your "Ancestral" lines may be required to be entered/input in "Family Tree" of 'FamilySearch'; before, some of the "Deceased" individuals/persons from your "Ancestral" Lines ALREADY existing in "Family Tree" of 'FamilySearch', are discovered.
Use the "Find" facility/function/feature to Search "Family Tree" of 'FamilySearch', you may be surprised to find some (if not, many) of them already there.
Many well established and documented (eg. "Sourced") individuals/person in "Family Tree" of 'FamilySearch' have been RUINED by the upload a GEDCOM File into "Family Tree" of 'FamilySearch'.
I hope this puts things into perspective.
I am one of those 'stauch' advocates, that wishes that 'FamilySearch' would STOP; and, NOT allow, the "Upload" of GEDCOM Files into the "Family Tree" Part of 'FamilySearch'.
For MANY Users/Patrons, perhaps the MAJORITY of Users/Patrons, the "Upload" of GEDCOM Files into the "Family Tree" Part of 'FamilySearch', is certainly NOT necessary.
Granted, there may be a FEW Users/Patrons, perhaps a very Small MINORITY of Users/Patrons, were the "Upload" of GEDCOM Files into the "Family Tree" Part of 'FamilySearch', would NOT be DETRIMENTAL to the EXISTING "Deceased" individuals/persons in "Family Tree" of 'FamilySearch'; but, they are in the minority; and, the DANGER that occurs/exists/happens with the "Upload" of GEDCOM Files into the "Family Tree" Part of 'FamilySearch', certainly OUTWEIGHS the need for such.
No matter who 'robust' one make a "System", the Users/Patrons WILL "Always", FIND; and, USE, a SHORTCUT.
As a Programmer once said to me ...
You CANNOT make a "System" FOOLPROOF; because, FOOLS are so INGENIOUS ...
Lets NOT give the Users/Patrons a chance to, circumvent; or, take those shortcuts ...
Just my thoughts.
I have many relatives on GENI, which is as poorly sourced as the "Added by Family Search" imports of unsourced material on FS. Nonetheless, there are many family members there who have SOME basis in reality. Poor data is better than no data, though some indication of reliability would be useful.
Instead of the phrase "GEDCOM data", or "Added by Family Search", I would prefer to see some rudimentary info on sources, eg "GENI tree", "personal recollection" or even "unknown."
The real problems are the "finding duplicates" issue, which I'm sure the engineers are working on, and the problem with offline sources, which are gradually being indexed by volunteers.
Genealogy data is a work in progress.
Like other sciences, we struggle with ignorance and what we don't know we don't know.2
Thanks for your responses. I've just found them.
Yes, there are fools and idiots out there and there is no foolproof system. But there are means to combat these folks. Too many serious genealogists have walked away from this platform because of this. If that bleed continues, the fools will reign.
The very first the engineers can do is remove "GEDCOM data." That can be done immediately. If they don't know how to do it, then give me access and I'll figure it out. :)
I spend a good half of my time doing maintenance. In fact, I've been spending the most part of the last three days combatting someone who is actively harassing me by making meaningless changes, not answering message, not posting sources or even reasons.
Do we justy hand over this tool to these idiots or do we fight them? Do we walk away from FS and write blog articles about how they let vandals run loose on the system? Is there any way we can get the powers that be pay attention to this very real problem that very critically causes injury to their system. Or are we just as foolish as these fools. I vote for standing up.2
Maybe this is why I have found several of my ancestors' profiles, on which I have spent many hours of careful research work, destroyed by persons who merge 'rubbish' with the only source given as 'GEDCOM Data'?
I have encountered much misinformation which gets churned around the internet while generally reliable sources attached to profiles are ignored and contradicted. I have also encountered those who so desparately want to enlarge their tree that any possible person with a similar name will do provided there is some sort of record that they can attach as a 'source'.
I have suggested before that there needs to be some mechanism whereby early profiles (e.g before, say, 1600) that may be ancestors common to many people have some sort of management so they cannot be so easily wrecked.1
Yes! I have often thought of suggesting there should be a cutoff c1600. I'd suggest that nothing before that be even allowed. I mean, most of it cannot possibly be verified except kinda sorta within the historical sources.0
I would prefer a cutoff more recent than 1600. 1700 would be better because it is after the first few waves of mass emigration to the Americas, Australia, etc. Migration is where so many family trees are rubbish.0
If there was some control over all the GEDCOM data entries and FamilySearch management of pre-1600 entries, that would still only reduce my work in correcting bad merges (and making correct ones) minimally.
I realise these two factors do create the majority of the time spent on correcting errors of others for many Family Tree users, but not for me. I find the type of work that creates most work for me originates with careless users merging (often well-sourced) IDs relating to individuals of the same name, who mostly lived in the same period of the 19th century, but perhaps hundreds of miles from the location where a "duplicate" was living at the time.
My point is, the starting point for resolving many of the errors in Family Tree could be GEDCOM additions, then attention is given to pre-1600 records - but what to do about the many other factors that can lead to serious errors that create many hours of corrective work for the affected user? For example, a FamilySearch employee once advised us that statistics showed GEDCOM was only responsible for a fraction of the duplicates that were created in Family Tree. With specific regards to duplicates, earlier FamilySearch practices have probably been more responsible for creating these than most other factors. More recently, a BYU project appears to have created many, many more.
As long as the Family Tree open-edit format remains there will always be a way for the inexperienced, reckless, or whatever, to make a complete mess of the branch(es) of the tree in which one is involved. So, whilst I agree with the general comments about the damaging effects of GEDCOM additions, I do not believe that eliminating this factor will have a serious impact regarding the integrity of data in Family Tree, including being that much of a help with the duplicates problem (including merging thereof).1
I see very little overlap between GEDCOM paste PIDs and PIDs that are conflations of two or more persons.
Even when a GEDCOM paste is involved, the conflation usually predated the paste. That makes GEDCOM pastes a symptom not the root cause.
Duplicates loaded by FamilySearch in 2012 are now water under the bridge, past and done. Where are new duplicates coming from? The #1 source I see is the popular instruction given to every newcomer to Family Tree to start by creating new PIDs for their ancestors until, finally, FT suggests an existing PID.
That right there is the big source of new duplicates.1
Considering the experience I've had, without doubt the GEDCOM uploads are a *huge* problem. It's not so much that the they create wrong dates, etc, they cause a huge number of duplicates and false connections. Unless that's kept in check, a single family ends up with four or five Williams, often with variant details, often with multiple sets of parents. This causes the database to badly fragment and creates a huge mess to clean up.
No. That "study" was clearly set up only so they could pretend it's not a problem.
Given that, the cleaning up of those entries is rather mechanical. This is different from the deeper problem -- the purposeful destruction of well-cited data so that an individual can support his/her personalized mythology, chiefly so that they can count themselves among "God-anointed" blue bloods. I've worked for more than four decades to get this data straight and I'm now a very active genetic genealogist helping to develop the Y-DNA data, information that has the ability to get to the very heart of the problem. I thought that FS might be a good resource with which to get this information out there. Everytime I complain, the "support" team lectures me. They insult me by telling me to create a tree elsewhere. Well, I've done that since 1994, first with my old genealogy.org (now owned by Ancestry.com) and now on my own personal website. But the LDS is a great marketing and I'm a lousy one (otherwise, genealogy.org would still be online). It turns out that they're marketing bogus data. (It turns out that collaborative trees do not and will not work.)
I've withdrawn from maintaining the tree simply because FS steadfastly refuses to do the right thing. As Andrew VK siad, they don't care about accuracy. They encourage users to treat it like a parlor game, and they have clearly washed their hands of it.
The tree, as presently designed, serves no useful purpose at all. Like so many people before me, I'm done, and others will follow. FS has created a zombieland. And, despite what they say, they have no respect for our ancestors. Otherwise, they would not let these bloodsuckers rule the roost.0
The "no respect for our ancestors" is an accusation that is better directed at individual users, rather than the FamilySearch organisation itself. Even still, this does not relate so much to the users who create duplicates through their GEDCOM inputs, but those who create "composites" by merging IDs that do not relate to duplicates at all.
Whilst I am not a member of the Church, I do feel sad to think of those individuals (many probably now passed themselves) who solemnly attended the temple with the names of family members, whose identities have now disappeared from recognition (at least in Family Tree) through users being over-enthusiastic about making merges.
My point is, we should worry a lot less about the multiple duplicates in Family Tree (which are not doing a great deal of harm, other than creating more work for us if we insist on the need to merge them all) and concentrate on worrying about the individuals who are completely disappearing from the Tree, due to incorrect merging. I see this problem every week and consider it to be the major flaw in this open-edit program.3
I feel sad for the many LDS members who put so much care, effort, and expense into doing ordinances for deceased persons who never existed. I have encountered so many profiles imported here circa 2012 that were conflations of 2 or more persons.0
@MichaelHCooley have you seen WikiTree.com? That's a great open-source and highly collaborative alternative.0
I have just noticed someone has edited my family tree 4 days ago adding several generations of Freestones, Rackhams and Rathers going back to 1600. The source is GEDCOM data. One record has a red exclamation mark, presumably because it says “1 Margery Mather 9”. As a name it makes no sense. Is there a way of deleting these names or detaching them or should I send a message to the person who edited them 4 dats ago?0
I am just another 'lowly' User/Patron ...
Just in passing ...
Ah ... GEDCOM Flies ... the 'scourge' ... of the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch' ...
There is NO easy way, to REPAIR, the DAMAGE done, by the "Upload", of a GEDCOM File, into the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch'.
It can be a 'hard slog' ...
IF, you can; THEN, I would NOT bother, even trying, to contact the OTHER User/Patron, in the first instance, I would just get on with REPAIRING the DAMAGE caused. You can contact the the OTHER User/Patron afterwards.
As an aside ...
Like many, I really wish, 'FamilySearch', would just STOP allowing, the "Upload", of GEDCOM Files, into the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch' altogether.
There is just NO need, to "Upload", GEDCOM Files, into the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch' under ANY circumstance ... even if one's "Ancestral" Lines are NOT already, in "Family Tree", of 'FamilySearch'.
As I always 'say', to User/Patrons, who mention, the "Upload", of a GEDCOM File, into "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch' ...
You can; but ...
Please, DO NOT, Upload, a GEDCOM File, into the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch'.
Upload, the GEDCOM File, in the "Genealogies" Part of, 'FamilySearch', that is fine; but, please NOT, into the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch'.
Some of the reasons, that Users/Patrons (like myself), DO NOT want the ability, to upload, a GEDCOM File, into the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch' are:
(1) It is most likely, that individuals/persons, in a GEDCOM File, are ALREADY, in the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch'; and, most Users/Patrons, DO NOT even take the time, to look to 'see', if any one in their GEDCOM File, is already in "Family Tree", in some instances, negating the need, to even upload, the GEDCOM File.
(2) There has been (many) cases where Users/Patrons, using the "Compare" process (of the upload) have "Dismissed" a "Possible" Match with an individual/person, already in "Family Tree"; so that, their "Record", from their GEDCOM File, is loaded into "Family Tree", regardless; just so that, their "Record" appears in "Family Tree" (and, in some instances, for Members of the Church, so they can do the "Temple" Work, despite the fact that the "Temple" Work is ALREADY done with the "Possible" Match, with the individual/person, already in "Family Tree").
(3) Even with the "Compare" process (of the upload), there has been (many) cases; where, Users/Patrons, have uploaded THEIR version, of an individual/person, in their GEDCOM File, on top of (ie. Over) an individual/person ALREADY, in the "Family Tree" Part, of "FamilySearch", that has been there for MANY years; and, is well documented and "Sources" - in many instances, obliterating all of the documentation and "Sources".
(4) If an individual/person, is ALREADY, in the "Family Tree" Part, of "FamilySearch", there is NO need, to up uploaded, one's version, of an individual/person, from one's own GEDCOM File - just take note of the the 'FamilySearch Person Identifier' (PID), of the individual/person, that is ALREADY in, "Family Tree"; and, one can go back later to ensure what information/detail is recorded and attached for that individual/person. Just, DO NOT, uploaded, one's version, of an individual/person, in one's GEDCOM File, on top of (ie. Over) an individual/person, ALREADY, in "Family Tree" - obliterating all of the documentation and "Sources" ALREADY in place/on record.
(5) The "Hours" (sometimes "Days"; or, even, "Weekes") of work, by other Users/Patrons, that can be needed to CORRECT the DAMAGE done by the upload of a GEDCOM File can be disheartening.
I am sorry ... 'off my soap box' ...
Enter (ie. 'Create') the individuals/persons, in the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch', one at a time - on a one by one basis.
Many of the individuals/persons, in a GEDCOM File, most probably, ALREADY exist, in the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch'.
Only one or two generations of the "Living" individuals/persons; and, perhaps, maybe, only one or two generations of the "Deceased" individuals/persons, may be required to be entered/input, into the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch"; BEFORE, some of the "Deceased" individuals/persons, from one's Ancestral Lines, ALREADY existing, in the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch', are discovered.
Use the "Find" facility/function/feature, to Search, the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch', one may be surprised to find some (if not, many) of them already there.
Many well established and documented (eg. "Sourced") individuals/persons, in the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch', have been RUINED, by the upload, a GEDCOM File, into the "Family Tree" Part, of 'FamilySearch'.
I hope, that this puts things into perspective.
Just my thoughts.
I know, that this certainly does not help/assist; but, I hope, that this may provide, some additional, insight; and, perspective.
If it was only a few days ago, certainly please try contacting the person who added the information. Perhaps they, in fact, have extensive notes and sources, just offline and not uploaded yet, and you can work together to make sure they all make sense and get them added to the tree.
But you can delete any link that is dubious or unsupported (and should probably add a "discussion" to the person on each side of the deleted link to explain your doubt).0
One of the many shortcomings of the GEDCOM-transfer process is that it strips all notes and sources that may have been in the original file. So by all means, message the person who created these profiles; he or she may have tons of sources -- and may be totally unaware that they didn't transfer.0
I'm late to this discussion, because I just re-started some genealogical work. I did a lot of prior research in the libraries, ordering and pouring over the microfilms in the days before research on the internet was available. So, in my short time on the site, I have found quite a few errors. For example, the month "Jan" was mistakenly transcribed into "June." I've also found a son, born to a 9 year old mother! And, another where the father was born after the son.
Unless I can see citations to the sources, it's a no go until I can confirm credible sources. As a historian, I have been trained to check/recheck and compare sources. I just don't trust a lot of information if I do not have access to seeing the original record, or have citations to where the information can be found.
I realize that as the result of the open format, there are a lot of individuals using the site with various levels of experience. However, it is disheartening to find glaring errors with little recourse in correcting them. Generally, I won't do any editing unless it is a date connected to a relative within my living memory. Otherwise, I use the "collaboration" or "send a message" feature. Yet, that isn't so reliable either, because some of the information was posted by members 8 to 10 years ago. So, in the meantime, I will use the site as a guide and for searching for documents. But, as for my family tree, I will construct it apart from the site.1
To my horror, I noticed the errors that were incorrectly pulled from the GEDCOM file by FamilySearch, AND WHICH I WAS BLINDLY UPDATING THE FAMILY TREE. Now I feel compelled to manually go over My Contributions and correct the errors, one by one.
This is a major flaw of this web site; that is, having one giant family tree which people tie into and which is comprised of the latest data that somebody enters, be it accurate or not. At least on Ancestry.com, if somebody goofs on his or her family tree, it remains their own product and responsibility, not the "official" version that all newcomers will find.
My gosh, what a mess. I am so happy that I paid the money to use Ancestry.com. I saw many, many errors that people made and perpetuated over there, but nobody has access to an "official" genealogy to screw up.
FamilySearch needs to be torn down, scrapped, and burned. This Wikipedia-like approach does not work due to the complexity of the data. It's too easy to make mistakes which then become facts.0
I just finished correcting the errors that I created by uploading the GEDCOM file. Now I am going to take the advice of some others and delete that GEDCOM file in order to prevent future users from accessing it and taking its garbled data as truth.
(Incidentally, it was death dates that were scrambled; at least that is what I noticed. Birth dates seemed to be correct. There may have been other compromised data, but I am not going back to review all that.)
As I stated previously, FamilySearch needs to change its modus operandi. It cannot be relied upon to have an "official" genealogy of our ancestors when so many people have access to the one central record for each individual, changing it at will. As I can attest, and others have, the GEDCOM upload / Compare to Family Tree process is flawed. Who knows what other mistakes have been made by other means?
FamilySearch is useful for searching for archived documents. As for using ancestral data from its Family Tree, FamilySearch cannot be trusted. If you are paying attention, you know to be skeptical using data from Ancestry.com family trees. Here, however, FamilySearch maintains one set of data and makes it seem like it's official. Not good.0
Any experienced user of Family Tree will know it is full or errors, as a result of countless inputs that have no factual basis. In spite of this, for ten years I have "persevered" in using it as the primary place for carrying out work on my ancestors, relatives and many completely unrelated individuals.
It's been a case of "trading off" the huge amount of information that has transpired to be accurate, against the crazy work of careless users, who have merged IDs for individuals having scarcely little in common but their names - e.g. a "John Smith" who never left his Yorkshire home being combined with a person of the same name that never left New York!
My personal conclusion is that it has been worth the unwanted hours (sometimes days) in correcting some horrendous changes to branches of the tree in which my relatives are found. This is in view of the positive factor of having saved so much time, by coming across existing entries for my relatives that I would never have likely encountered elsewhere. Obviously, this being a free-to-use website also has its attraction, as opposed to having to subscribe to Ancestry, Find My Past, etc.
So, it is very much a matter of personally weighing up the pros and cons of working with FamilySearch's Family Tree. Interestingly, it is claimed the majority of users are not members of the LDS Church, so there must be a heck of a lot of people like me, who see the benefits of this open-edit format, without needing it to carry out any faith-based work.
BTW - regarding the main topic here (of GEDCOM uploads), I have not personally found them to be any more of a problem than other (manual) inputs by users. I appreciate many do find this to be a major issue, but - to date - the GEDCOM factor has caused me little difficulty. It's the general, open-edit nature of Family Tree that is always going to cause problems, regardless of any restrictions placed on GEDCOM imports.2
@BruceGaugler, in addition to Paul W's cogent comments, I will offer that there is nothing "official" about the Tree on FamilySearch. It is and always will be a work in progress, and it is only as good as we, the users, make it.
One of the things that bugs me about individual-tree sites like Ancestry is that people make errors, and then the system strongly encourages other users to propagate those errors -- and there is absolutely nothing I can do to fix them or to stop their spread. (As a non-subscriber, I cannot even send the user a message about the error.) When people make errors on FamilySearch's Family Tree, I can fix them, and thereby stop them from spreading elsewhere.
The one part of your comments that I fully agree with is that FamilySearch's GEDCOM compare-and-add process is badly flawed. It fails to find existing duplicates, suggests so many non-duplicates that one is practically forced to become complacent about just dismissing them all, and makes it possible to inadvertently and unintentionally overwrite good data with not-so-good with just a single click of a button, without the user realizing what is happening.0
As James Tanner says again and again, Family Tree is not the problem; Family Tree is the solution.0
There will always, anywhere, I'm afraid, be people who are either just ancestor-collectors or who can't be bothered to put proper sources into their research, whether that research is on their own computer or in a public tree like Ancestry's or FamilyTree. Those of us who do cite sources can only grit our teeth and move on, preferably having fixed the error first when possible.
I have lost count of the time that I've entered a name with dates into the FT search box, gotten the "No Matches" message, created a new record adding other data and sources, then added a spouse only to find a "Possible Match?" that is the same couple. It's frustrating, but I accept it because I assume that FamilySearch feels it better to have a duplicate in the FT than to have one record that is actually two people inadvertently merged. Presumably this is why, when uploading Swedish records, they would make separate records for the parents of each child in the baptismal records, knowing full well that there would be hundreds of siblings in a given register -- thus in the FT you can find, for example, four siblings but instead of two parents, there are eight. The only way to know if one Anders Andersson and his wife Anna Andersdotter is the same as the next Anders Andersson and his wife Anna Andersdotter is to check the original sources (and yes, sometimes there were two couples with the same names both having babies in the same village at the same time ...).
GEDCOMs are surely along similar lines. Isn't it better to have duplicate records for one person than to inadvertently/automatically merge two John B. Campbells both born in Pennsylvania in 1835?
I certainly understand the OP's frustration! I find myself saying (out loud, sometimes!) "'GEDCOM' is not a source, folks!!" when I come across a piece of data and want to know where it's from, but there isn't anything else, not even whose GEDCOM they mean.
I stopped using Ancestry on principle when they strangled WorldConnect, and like PaulW above, I now use FT as my online tree. I well remember the days of mailing off requests and fees to county courthouses and waiting six or eight weeks for a reply, and so I can't even begin to say how grateful I am for the huge, huge amount of primary sources that FamilySearch makes available for free, with instant results.
Any tree anywhere can have errors. I'm sure mine does, despite the care I try to take -- I can only hope that they are small ones. I think I'm more astonished that FamilySearch insists on implementing upgrades to make it "easy" for new researchers, despite that these upgrades at the same time hinder more-experienced ones.1
I spend most of my time at Wikitree, and the rest of my time at Family Search. This means that I spend a great deal of time cleaning up junk from GEDCOM uploads. Both trees have the goal of creating one family tree. Both trees are filled with nonsense, trash, and garbage. Not to mention bad sourcing. But if I could only have one, it would be Wikitree because they have strong aspirations. "GEDCOM Junk" is a category of data errors that we are encouraged to fix. There's a group you can join called "Data Doctors." Since I am not a joiner by nature, I go through their lists every week to find items to correct, but not as a member of the group. It's a great way to learn about the structure, and to systematically address the problems with earlier GEDCOM uploads.0
Thank you for confirming gedcom files are mostly rubbish. Just now I encountered a profile of a Scottish man on here, John Just Jousset Gossett, who all records say was born around the early 18th century and someone "corrected" the date based on gedcom data as him being born in 1592. Having children born in France almost century before his actual birth. I've seen people try to make all sorts of links that have no basis in fact, everyone wants to be related to royalty it seems.0