Nonsense trees on FamilySearch
I have discovered some nonsense trees with only questionmarks and they are not connected to any name as far as I can see.
Maybe there are more out there?
Let's help each other to keep the server clean and fill it whith our heritage instead.
Thank you for your enquiry regarding "nonsense trees". We appreciate you bringing this to our attention. On investigating this further, we are able to see that there are in fact attached trees but that the other members of the tree are listed as "living" so are only visible to the person that created their record. Therefore, they appear to be a dead end to all except the person who the tree belongs to.
I do hope this answers your question adequately.
Thank you for your post in the Community about the question mark name issue. Your case will be forwarded to a specialty team for review and resolution. You may be contacted by that team if they need additional information. Look for the red dot next to the envelope top right on this page.0
You can learn what these ? used to represent by examining the change log for each of them.
This help center article talks about why some people have just a question mark as a name: https://www.familysearch.org/en/help/helpcenter/article/why-does-a-persons-name-have-a-question-mark-in-family-tree
Your three examples are quite a mess. It looks like someone tried to clean up profiles by removing different ?s from various families then combing the question marks from a whole bunch of old records. I'm not sure what you would do with them now. Fortunately it looks like the families involved were all living in the 300 - 900 year range so your average user here really won't be involved with them. It may be that these were actually handled by someone who knew what they were doing and had a specific goal in mind.
Let me explain where you will more generally run into these and the proper way to handle them.
Older databases allowed one parent's name to be blank when it was not known. Most commonly this would be the mother's name such as when a birth record had just the father and child. Family Tree also allows you to create a family of just one parent and a child.
However, the import process moving from the older databases to Family Tree did not allow a blank parent so they had to put in something to fill that blank. They chose to use ? to represent Unknown Name in a way that would not need to be translated.
I mainly work in Norwegian research and there are hundreds of examples of these ? because most parishes did not include mother's names in birth records prior to 1815. The indexed records that ended up in the IGI then were imported into Family Tree are the most common source of these. Here is an example of the most common way I see these:
Unfortunately, some people who do not know what is going on here just remove ? from the family, leaving it floating randomly in the database.
The far better course of action is to use other records to determine who these question marks are, such as who Johannes' mother was, if at all possible, and correctly assemble the family. If that ? person cannot in anyway be identified, it should be just left as a ?. That way it stays connected to the proper family, keeping tidy relationship links, so that someday maybe someone else can finally determine the person's name.0
Paul W ✭✭✭✭✭
For a while I was diligent in treating this matter in the way you suggest. However, this is a problem of the organisation's own making. The creation of these "?" IDs (since proved to be an unnecessary action - i.e., we don't have to do this in Family Tree and things still work okay) has produced a lot of unneeded work for us users. It is much easier (and so much more tempting) to just disconnect these IDs, rather than merge them all. (I have previously merged the 10 or so "?" IDs that related to the mother of a named father's children - bad enough merging the 10 IDs for the father, let alone an unknown mother!)
Also, leaving just the one "?" in a family (as a wife / mother) makes for total inconsistency with the general rule (of leaving an "Unknown" blank) and encourages the input of an otherwise forbidden character!0
Yes, the presence of these ? is the result of a series of decisions starting back in the 1970s or earlier with the creation of the IGI and the way extraction program records were entered into it compounded by decisions made when the IGI was imported into Family Tree.
It probably would have caused fewer problems in Family Tree but more gnashing of teeth by genealogist if instead of using a generic ? for these fields required by the import, they had gone ahead and used " Mrs. [husbands name]." It would have been much more clear what is going on at the expense of being criticized for "making up names." Instead of my illustration above, you would see:
(Modified in beta site only)
But it's too late for that now.
I know all these merges required in cleaning up old IGI data are time consuming but it is much easier to correctly merge all the ?s that are the same parent in a family before anything else happens to these IGI records than to have them detached. It can be more work to track down the ?s and pull them back into the family later when it turns out to be a situation where this really needs to be done. Also, correctly merging them avoids having them end up just floating as isolated records in the database.0
Thanks everybody for enlightening me.1