Is it time to update the commonly accepted genealogical standards for dates and places?
Current genealogical standards as I have heard them but never seen in print are to enter dates and, in particular, place names as they were at the time of an event. I propose that it is time to revise this standard usage.
- Family Tree is a worldwide, wiki-style, open edit system.
- The number of languages for the FamilySearch website and FamilyTree have recently been greatly expanded.
- Contributors to Family Tree from many different countries are working on common ancestors.
- As more contributors see that Family Tree is available in their native languages, they will be more inclined to use that feature and work in their native language.
- Standards for data entry, not to be confused with FamilySearch “standardization” of data items, are intended to promote consistency and appropriate uniformity in recording genealogical data.
- Since current genealogical standards do not address multiple language speakers working in the same tree, they do not address which language should be used in that common tree.
- Contributors tend to enter and edit data in their own native language.
- When contributors from different countries are working on the same individual, the data in Family Tree can be changed repeatedly and rotate between several different languages.
- The Display Data component of a date or place is designed to stay as entered by a contributor and not be translated based on the website language setting in order to not lose or corrupt the contributors data.
The current genealogical standard should be updated to state that places and dates should be entered as they were at the time of the event and in the language used at the date and place of the event.
- If this revised standard came into broad use in Family Tree, then any user in any country would enter a date or place name in the language of the event.
- Repeated editing of a date or place just to change the language would not occur.
- Researchers would increase their research skills by quickly becoming very familiar with basic dates and place names in the language of their countries of interest.
Reply To The Objection: “I don’t know the language.”
- If a contributor does not recognize a date or place name as shown in a language other than his or her own, hovering over the date or place name as it stands causes a “tool tip” to appear and show the standardized version of the data which will be in the language to which the website is set.
- If a contributor does not know the proper form for a date or place name, changing the web site language to the language of the event will allow the contributor to type in the data in his or her own language and use the list of possible standardized versions to convert it to the proper language
Reply To The Objection: “The program should translate all dates and places to my language.”
- This might at some point be a feasible alternative but does not at this time exist in Family Tree. Current design of Family Tree is to maintain, uncorrupted, the data entered by a contributor and to link this Displayed Data to the closest equivalent standardized form. This allows greater detail, more precision, and greater accuracy than a strict adherence to a website maintained list of required standardized versions of dates and place names. This unique design of Family Tree has great benefits that should be preserved.