Sunday, April 28, 2019

Beware FamilySearch

FamilySearch provided by the LatterDay Saints is a wonderful source of documentation. However, its Family Tree is flawed and fails to promote professional genealogy standards.

Initially I created a tree on FamilySearch (FS) because I wanted to use the relative finder.  That didn't work very well because unbeknownst to me the default settings of the page lets other people contribute to your ancestral findings.  A few people made a horrible mess of my family.  Today I've discovered some people even deleted some of my entries.  Fortunately the information was still there and I was able to reattach it.  I could see how this file was abused.  I had to post a firm message.  Since there doesn't seem to be a check and balance system, this can lead to all kinds of genealogical fallacies.  This puts in mind the Victorian desire to connect families with either royalty or biblical characters.  These are still affecting genealogy!

FS is not very intuitive to use, so I may have messed up their trees to fix mine  Sorry about that.   Since then I've figured out the correct steps. In addition, if you do use one of the resources found, it's not clear to me if you're sent back to your own entry.  I think so, but it should be made clear.  A user shouldn't have to memorize all the individual codes. 

Some FS users do not know how to research common names and it seemed that they just just blithely assumed they were correct.  I'll charitably assume that's how most of this happened.  Personally I would never go so far as to physically change anyone's information.  That used to be considered rude. If you find there is more than one person of the same name in the same age group, you must research both people until you are sure which one is correct.  There were 27 possible Adam Bakers when I was looking for my great-great-grandfather.  I knew enough to know I had to have additional information to go further. If you don't know how to do that, you better look up how to research genealogical records.

There is a setting under a user's profile to turn off contributions as FS calls it.  I could eliminate all but one.  I assume it's a corporate address.  I let that user know I didn't want any messing around with my files.  I might have to confess to accidentally messing up other people's files in reply, but at least I will be able to point out the design flaws.  Even though I'm no longer working in an information technology department, I can still break applications.

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