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A way to control my family line from changes by outside persons.

If I have to use family search to enter information before being allowed to take it to the temple, I want a way to control my family line from random input of other people who are not related (though my family is small, I know everyone from my great-great grandparents down to today). I am frustrated and angry at people who add in information and what is worse is that they don't add in documentation under the "Source" area to support their change. Even just last week in Conference, we were reminded to take responsibility for our family history. How am I supposed to do that when things are being changed by some unrelated person?

I would also appreciated "customer service personnel" (yes, I know they are senior missionaries) who actually knew the program. I've called on a couple of occasions about something I've seen from a rootstech video. Personnel are ALWAYS bewildered by the innovations you like to point out to the general public as a way to do their research with more ease.
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  • Well the family tree is a public tree. You can't really stop people from entering in data, you can just fix it and ask they to cite their sources next time. What you can also do is heavily document your people so changes wouldn't need to be made.

    Also, some of the senior missionaries don't watch/attend roots tech and aren't informed about new features until they encounter them. They aren't trained on the flashy stuff, they're just trained on how to do research and help others with the basics.
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  • Welcome to the community support forum for FamilySearch. FS personnel read every discussion thread and may or may not respond as their time permits. We patrons, having various levels of knowledge and experience do our best to help each other with concerns, issues. and/or questions.

    Since you are new to this forum, it is also likely that you are relatively new or inexperienced with FamilySearch FamilyTree. After this past conference I expected to start seeing a number of this concerns from people who are what I call, "sometimes" genealogists. I have prepared the following material to help you and others like yourself understand the nature of the tree and how to use what I have found to be effective methods in maintaining reliable records.

    Introducing FamilySearch FamilyTree

    FamilySearch FamilyTree is a single tree that is a collaborative effort, built around an open-edit model, allowing any person, including yourself to add to and make changes on any person who lived throughout history, including all of our deceased relatives.

    There is no "my tree" in FamilySearch FamilyTree. it is a tree for all mankind. If you have found errors, you need to know why those errors are there. It could be that someone incorrectly combined another person's tree with your relative. It could be that someone found a source that they thought applied to your relative, but it did not. It could be that someone knew that their information was correct and entered that.

    There are sites that support independent trees and building them. FamilySearch is not one of those sites.

    If you are unfamiliar with how to work with the massive tree (now containing over 1.18 Billion persons), The Family History Guide (http://thefhguide.com/) is an approved training resource. It not only contains procedures for working with the site and the massive tree, but also exercises for you to use.

    As to the incorrect information -- Those who make changes usually believe they are also related to the person for which they are making changes. Their changes may be valid, invalid, or contain errors and may lack support from primary and secondary source material. Or the changes may be based on misinformation, or information that was copied from an unreliable source. Genealogies are often treasured because they connect people with royalty, famous personalities in history, has introduced creative and, at times, fraudulent solutions.

    For instance, one infamous self-proclaimed genealogist, Gustave Anjou, produced well over 100 genealogies about American families. While these have had ample reliable sources, there have been claims (with alleged sources) used to connect those families with famous people and royalty. He is known to have charged $9,000 for such a genealogy during his lifetime. He died in 1942.

    The desire to belong to an elite group of people, such as Mayflower Descendants, the Daughters of the American Revolution, or the Sons of the American Revolution has likewise produced some inventive genealogies. These were often accepted without adequate documented proof and have been used to make connections that actually never existed.

    In 1990, the D.A.R. organization published a new "Centennial" Index in three volumes. Many previously accepted Revolutionary Ancestors no longer appeared in the index. The D.A.R. organization explained, "Omission from this edition of the name of a DAR member's ancestor would be due to conflicting data received which raised some questions about the patriot's identity, service or descendants."

    Not all participants who add to and make changes to existing material have the same level of knowledge and experience. Novices / Newbies often try their best to be useful, but they can and will make mistakes, some of which are going to cause concern. Others are convinced that their information is factual, despite not having primary or secondary validated sources.

    While this can be frustrating, remember that everyone has been at one time or another in their lives, or is now, a novice or newbie. I remember what it was like for me, now over fifty years ago.

    To minimize the changes, there are several things that I have found to be effective.

    1. I make sure every person I work with on FSFT is fully sourced with citations that can be used to locate the original record, not only with sources from FamilySearch Historical Records, but also from other sites as well as material that may not be available online. I also add whatever stories exist about that person and provide sources for those stories. The more information I can include, the less likely someone will come along and make changes.

    I make sure that every conclusion (fact) that is in a person's record actually applies to that person and I have included my reasoning why that conclusion is the right one. Remember, there is no room for speculation, which is not fact. If I am unsure about some aspect of a person's life, I put that information on the person's page in notes, discussions, or even as a story, especially if an old well-worn family tradition is involved.

    2. Every time some one makes a change or merge that I feel is incorrect, I use the FamilySearch message system to leave them a kindly written message as to why I feel that what they have done does not apply to that person. If they have not provided a source or a reason, I try to remind them that sources are crucial to establishing conclusions and facts, and that a person's reasoning is needed to let others know what research and thinking was done to reach the conclusion.

    3. I am prepared to not receive a response from the person. They have the choice to respond or not respond. I try to always thank them for adding sources, making corrections, and helping reduce the number of duplicates. If I had to clean up the record, I let them know what I have done, along with the reasoning behind my corrections.

    4. I am well aware that not everyone works with FSFT every day or extensively, so there are many different levels of knowledge being applied. I try to help others understand things like the differences between primary and secondary sources and that published family and locality histories often contain errors and are not sourced. I let them know that unsourced material needs to be treated as hints, not as facts.

    By taking an active part in working with a few of my relatives, I have found that bad changes either stop, or slow considerably. To track what changes take place, especially with critical persons in the tree, I put them on my watch list.

    The most gratifying part about taking an active role, I receive thanks from those who made changes, especially since I go into great detail about what I know of the person and their immediate family, the area, and the families who were neighbors to our common relatives.
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  • She does have a point though, how can we take responsibility for our family history, if we are not totally in control of our family history in the FamilySearch "Family Tree."
    • Like many things in the church, life, and our families, we have "responsibility" or stewardship, but we don't have total control, especially of others' actions and outcomes! We have to work with others who also have a level of responsibility.

      Additionally, if we are blessed with more knowledge/experience/talents with family history, we have a responsibility to use them to help teach and bless others! (And that oftentimes requires patience!)
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  • Erin - have you contacted the people that are changing the individuals in question? Perhaps they are distant cousins to you.
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    Also remember sources appear at the bottom of the page...There are 25 bad genealogies out there on Ancestry and ever so often someone would try to “fix” my 45+ years of work to look like them. If you want it to be seen put something in Life sketch and again in Other Information so even newbies will notice. And don’t be afraid to use caps or exclamation points...I had to do this not just to the end of line ancestors but all their children also. Make sure you have a watch on the individuals it happens to over & over. Over time, as you get your message clear and succinct it will mostly stop.
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