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Changes made to Family Tree are overridden by combining and separating records in NFS

I have spent a great deal of time in Family Tree adding/correcting information, adding sources, and correcting relationships. However, all the work I have done is lost when someone goes in to NFS and combines or separates records. I'm wondering if working in Family Tree is a little premature at this point, since your work can be overridden when records are combined and separated in NFS.
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    You are so right. Two days ago I spent two hours on an ancestor who was given two wrong names and married to three wrong husbands with total 17 wrong children. Separated her from the wrong spouses and children, straightened out the name stuff. Yesterday I found she was renamed, again attached to the wrong spouses, her actual spouse was combined with one of his nephews, and there was no "history" showing what I had done the previous day. The changes were made by "anonymous" with a long string of numbers for whom there is no contact information. What data there is suggests that this wrongness was re-migrated into FS-Family Tree yesterday.

    I suspected this would be happening, and wonder when exactly migrations will cease. There is no point in my spending all this time to make corrections based on documentation if the same errors (and more) are going to be re-installed in FS-Family Tree.

    Detecting this is complicated by the search engine results which show the n.FS database, not the FS-Family Tree database as modified.
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  • Is this system premature to be used fully. Appears that users will continue not to consult each other to resolve relationship problems and users will remain "anonymous" with ridiculous identifications. As a consultant, I was preparing myself to train members on Family Tree and get ready for its take over. Should I train or not?
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    • Yes, go ahead and teach about FT, and use it as primary system. But the data WILL change on FT if folks continue to change it on nFS. And that's the problem, isn't it.
    • Elder Moon's FS FT tutorials will be available August 23 at familysearchtraining.com for anyone to use. These lessons are voiced, step-by-step, how-to videos for each action that is currently functioning on FT. Handouts with screen captures can be printed from the site as well. Elder Moon constantly updates these lessons as more functionality is added or when things change. He is in constant contact with the designing engineers of FT who help keep the information correct and current. These are what we use to teach missionaries and patrons in the Family History Library in conjunction with the practice database, training.familysearch.org/tree soon to be available to the public. So I am NOT going to mail my handouts to you. These are GREAT!
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  • This appears to be a severe problem that needs to be faced up to. Clearly FT is not yet ready to be the only allowed update interface, so either it should have updates shut off entirely, or something should be done to protect the data modified via FT from the wildly disruptive operations that nFS currently allows.

    I favor the latter approach. Continue allowing updates from both interfaces, but disable the combine and separate operations in nFS. Although some cross-interference would still occur, the major damage being done by the problematic nFS combine/separate functions would be eliminated
    • Robert, "Wildly disruptive" is an extremely understated and polite term. Just found that a person **with no contact info** combined (for third time) a relative with an unrelated person some 15 years older with different wife, made the older man son of my relative's father AND of his paternal grandfather and reattached wrong wives to both of the latter. Despite there being explanatory "Discussion" notes.

      If they don't care about age differences, birth place differences, death date differences, spouse differences, and obviously have not done any research finding two completely different Revolutionary War Pension Application files for the two men, and disregard Discussion items, any constructive work in FS-FT quickly will be nullified.

      The question is now, why have two huge tandem genealogical messes?
    • One problem that the Privacy Lawyers insist on preserving is the inability to connect with anyone who has chosen not to be seen or contacted. It may be a privacy issue, or it may just be that they are unfamiliar with the User Profile Preferences tab where they want you to list your contact information. The User Profile on nFS is something that we need to teach widely, right after we get folks registered on nFS or FT. I find it disgusting that folks won't be contact-able, but continue to make changes. I do hope there will be some kind of User Profile/Home Page on FS FT, or FS.org.
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  • Ron Tanner (Family Tree Guy) August 21, 2012 22:56
    We recognize the issues with the combine in nFS. We are investigating disallowing combines in nFS when we get merge in FT.
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    • See familysearchtraining.com tutorials available August 23 by Elder Moon, with printable handouts. Teaching navigating FT, and Sourcing should take about 2 hours. Adding and Editing at least 1 hour. Deleting Relationships another 1, and temple about 30 minutes. No GEDCOM yet. The beta site comes and goes so don't rely on it solely. But since Moon's tutorials are on line, you can just show those! Don't do hands-on training yet.
    • Ron-- I have some concerns: 1) I understand I can add sources, but the "reason this is correct" box also contains significant information. For example, some of my ancestors had birth dates submitted by LDS Church Membership Records--the locations were incomplete, so I added the full location, but I listed the "reason this information is correct" as being information taken from LDS Membership Records. Does New Family Search overwrites these "reason this information is correct" boxes?

      2) when I go through and delete a bunch of incorrect information and carefully place reasons for why I deleted what I did, NFS just puts the incorrect information back. I personally can say that my written reason for doing something decreases in quality for each time I have to retype it. Does my reasoning still exist somewhere? Will someone eventually see my reasoning and fix the problem that I already fixed once?

      3) will my weekly email alerts on individuals I "watch" tell me that someone unlinked a record in NFS? I understand the need to be able to do that, and I can work with it IF I know that it has happened. Right now I don't think I'm getting alerted about NFS changes--maybe I'm wrong. However, I notice that I have come across records I KNOW I fixed, and changes have been made that don't show up in my email alerts.

      4) I thought we have merge in FamilyTree (except for Church Membership records and ROUSes). Could you leave NFS up, but have a pop up window (like you did in the old FamilySearch program) that constantly pops up and tells people not to use NFS, but instead to go to FamilyTree.
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  • 1
    I really hate to keep bringing this up, but once again today I completely lost hours of work in Family Tree when someone separated a record in nFS. I had spent literally a full day cleaning up a person in Family Tree who has a very common name. I fixed his record, his children, parents, and several generations back. I put a watch on the person. I added sources. I corrected relationships. Today I got the weekly email showing changes for names I was watching. It showed that a single user had separated out a number of records in nFS for this person. When I went in to Family Tree, all the work I had done was lost! Everything was back to the mess it was before I started! I keep seeing articles in blogs, emails from FamilySearch, articles in the FamilySearch consultants blog, encouraging us to go in to Family Tree and clean up the data and fix relationships. But, what is the point? I don't know how many times now I have lost hours of work when someone separates and combines records in nFS. It seems to me that either nFS needs to be locked down so users can't separate and combine records, or FamilySearch needs to be honest and tell users not to do any work in Family Tree because very likely it will all be lost! The current policy is doing nothing but creating incredible frustration among the early adopters who FamilySearch needs to get everyone else excited about the program. The current policy is creating a lot of really negative experiences for people who are trying to do what FamilySearch is asking and get in and use the program!
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  • I can understand the concern about this issue but you also need to think about the other side of the situation. When you clean up a incorrectly combined record to be your individual it hides the other individuals in the combined record. They may be some other user's ancestor and they are trying to find them. Thus they are separating in nFS to isolate their ancestor. Until separation and combining in nFS are removed - my suggestion is to look at the combined records in nFS and separate any questionable records before cleaning up in Family Tree. This may leave some records to merge in Family Tree but it will at least allow all of the basic records to be seen.
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    • I want to add that I just got off the phone with another missionary--helping me with a different relative--and that missionary was telling me the same thing "just delete the incorrect relationships and vital information so the record represents your ancestor." I talked myself blue in the face and still did not convince her that is not a good option. This was a record of two BLATANTLY different, REAL people who were combined together in NFS on 23 Oct 2012--I'm trying to undo the merge (which took place in NFS) and I called the missionary in hopes there was an easy way to "unmerge". All the missionaries are just giving the answer "delete whatever it takes to turn the record into your ancestor." For me, this is NOT acceptable. We are deleting/hiding real people and real research. We have to uncombine when there are two totally separate people at stake.

      PLEASE RETRAIN THE MISSIONARIES!
    • A lot of this has to do with what will be in the white paper. I cannot yet conceive of a way that this has been successfully addressed, but I'm keeping an open mind until I see the bottom line.

      Freezing the missionaries (me included) until an answer is clear is a good idea, but freezing merging and splitting would be a better idea.

      I've talked with one of the missionaries that claims to be very close to the project and project staff. Elder M. is the trainer of a lot of missionaries. His answer would be the same as what you got on the phone.

      My problem is that I just cannot imagine a way that taking such an action will ever solve the person identity problem at the underlying level.

      When Family Tree searches and matches only key off of the top person, how will we ever find the underlying person and extricate their LDS information--membership and other information important to us?
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  • I agree with gasmodels. Correcting the record of a real, single individual in Family Tree works great no matter how many records may have been combined.

    The great problem in Family (and new.FamilySearch) comes when different individuals have been wrongly combined by algorithm or by untrained or careless humans. The system does not and cannot work in these cases because, particularly with regard to LDS data.

    The LDS data are are partially to mostly hidded from the LDS users.When you, Bryan, try to make changes in Family Tree to a combined person, you will never know whether the LDS data displayed belongs to your person or to one of the other combined alter-egos.

    Not only that, but descendants of the hidden alter-egos will try endlessly to recapture the LDS data to their person.
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  • As we expose the LDS data you will be able to see what data makes sense and which does not. Then you can have the inappropriate data moved to another individual.
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    • Ron, your suggestion is exactly the advice to which Cathy and others have objected. On the front end, numerous wrongly-combined individuals from n.FS are made to disappear, together with any information on ordinance work for the particular individuals.

      While on the back end, as I have discovered and noted in another current thread, the system creates many duplicates of persons from Historical Records indexes (if a particular image was indexed in four different batches, the persons from that one record will each be put in the system four times).

      https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea...

      This does not seem like a logical combination of approaches.
    • So FamilyTree becomes a race. If I get to my ancestor's incorrectly combined record first, I get to claim all the ordinances and delete everyone else's research. If someone else gets to my ancestor's incorrectly combined record first, he or she is the lucky winner. I have to rediscover that my ancestor ever even existed and relocate all the vital information, re-enter it all into the system and re-do all the ordinances?

      Ron--I've communicated with you before about this. I understand that at a future time the ordinances will be able to be separated out--in the meantime, I see a wave of duplication that will take place. However, ignoring all the duplication on the ordinances, let's just think about all the research that is disappearing. People have added information to NFS for a long time now--that information is not necessarily attached to those temple records or PRF or AF or anywhere else but NFS.

      I understand why you don't want to turn combine and uncombine back on, but could you possibly create a special department that looks at NFS records on a case by case basis and determines whether an "uncombine" would be in order? This would be similar to the Data Quality that used to be able to do some separating that general patrons could not. You could just give them access to NFS, let patrons submit DOCUMENTATION, and let DQ make the uncombines. I understand that an uncombine causes the records to "reset", but in some cases, I think that is worthwhile. Re-correcting one person's records is a lot less work that re-creating several people from scratch. If you let patrons know that this "reset" is being done by DQ out of complete necessity (and not just by an uneducated patron), I know people will understand.
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  • I know this topic has been discussed before, but I just spent several hours going in and cleaning up two records in family tree (again!) because someone had separated records in nFS. I had to go in and clean up all the relationships all over again and go through all the duplicates once again just because someone separated records in nFS. When is this link going to be turned off so that combining and separating in nFS won't destroy hours of work we have done in Family Tree?
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    • "we can submit to another department to "combine" and "uncombine" records from NFS, but I still don't think it is necessary. We can make all the corrections we want to the FT database"

      I find this comment disturbing. What is the point of wasting time 'changing' data in FT that is not relevant because it belongs to a 'different' person than the one you're trying to correct for?

      As well, we currently have no idea when we will be able to uncombine records ourselves. There are many things we have been promised in the past that 3 years later we still haven't seen occur.

      From a data quality perspective, none of this has to do with making the data 'right'...it absolutely has to do with being able to distinguish the data enough to determine whether or not work has actually been completed. I still regularly find people 'buried' in collections of combined records whose work has not been done. THIS is where I am focused and cannot do so when I have to submit the records for correction and wait for a reply (it is not always easy to 'submit' such corrections as often the changes are intermingled between wrongly combined husbands, wives and children -- I'm working on one of those cases right now).
    • I am not certain how the process will work to correct these combination people using temple ordinances. It seems a very back end approach,not timely, and prone to a lot of mistakes. What about individuals that are combined that were submitted using pedigree resource, and there is no ordinance?

      When I corrected the combination person before, I separated the record in NFS. That instantly created a separate record for that same person in FT. Then I deleted the erroneous relationship in FT, and my FT record was correct and was intact with data and ordinances. To be able to separate your record yourself (since you know the record best) in NFS and do clean up in FT seems to be a far simpler and efficient way to correct the combination people. This is especially true without the being able to combine in NFS.

      My goal is to correct the records in FT so that we have as clean a data base as possible. Especially at this time as people using NFS are being directed to FT and being trained in FT. I am not concerned that I am only correcting the relationship in FT and NOT NFS, since NFS will be turned off. I really want to correct my records before others come into FT and make the records worse in the name of cleaning up only their record right now.

      I keep reading just to correct my relative and don't worry about another persons relative, but I also have some where several of my relatives are included in one person because of a commonality in their name, so it is not just fix yours and let others fend for themselves. If I have two distinct women named Maria that are combined because someone coupled Maria A with Maria B's spouse, and both are related to me, if I fix Maria A, won't Maria B disappear? This would be easy to fix now if I could just separate the records and delete the erroneous marriage.
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  • HAPPY HALLOWEEN! NFS combine/uncombine was turned off on the 31st. Wahoo.
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  • I’m Disappointed
    All well and fine for some, but for those of us who spent 8+ hours a day uncombining trapped records of multiple people this is a travesty. Even without 'looking' for them I'm still amassing 5+ collections a day that contain 2 or more people that need to be uncombined (often finding work that has not yet been done). My list is getting really long and I need to know when we will be able to 'fix' the issue of multiple people in the same collection BEFORE people start stripping the data to fit one of the people and ignoring the other people still there.

    Whose idea was this anyway?
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  • My understanding is that we are dealing with several different databases here. The temple records, the FT records, and LDS Membership records. The FT records get merged, deleted, and cut off from relationships, but the temple records and LDS Membership records do not.

    Eventually, we will be able to uncombine the temple records and they will reappear with their relationships and information. Then they can be re-merged into the correct locations. If someone again places them incorrectly, they can be uncombined AGAIN, and eventually (and hopefully) we will get it right.

    I don't know if the same situation will eventually happen with Membership Records, but I'd like to see that as well.

    However, this thought makes me feel better about going in and deleting incorrect information. I was really gun shy of this approach, until I recognized that we are dealing with separate databases.

    If we think of FT as its very own database, and we go in and attempt to create an accurate family tree first, then we go in and attach temple records as needed, I think this can work. I recognize that there will be some hiccups until the programmers give us the power to uncombine temple records, but I think in the long run (2-3 years), we will come out on top with a far superior system that we can really live with.

    I say to go ahead and do what Support is suggesting and start deleting the multiple people out of the same collection. Don't keep a list, just start doing it as you come across them. If the record is connected to your ancestor, turn the record into your record and remove all the other people combined there. When we can finally uncombine the temple records, you can go back and separate out all those other people. In the meantime, correcting the FT database gives us a huge headstart on eventually correcting the temple records database.

    And a note to the programmers, please get us the ability to separate out those temple records ASAP. Each day of delay means there will be duplication going on, once we have that power, the duplication will begin to lessen.
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  • The only way to uncombine a record is to send it into Support-Data Quality by way of feedback. They are going to be very busy.
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  • I would like to explore a bit of these ideas:

    1. Reinstate combine/separate - we don't want that because of the destructive nature of those changes being reflected back on Family Tree. Combines happen too easily and they don't see the reasons, sources, etc. that demonstrate validity.

    2. Reinstate just separate - initially this seems interesting because you can separate out in nFS and then go and fix in FT, merging where it is appropriate. But what happens when someone that is corrected and merged back in FT now gets separated by someone in nFS? It will look just as messed up as #1 because nFS does not understand unmerge.

    3. Correct ancestor and/or move incorrect to another "copy" - either correct the ancestor or if you are sure it is multiple people, create a person and move those that are not in your line to the other person and then do not-a-match, if necessary. More work but not disrupted by nFS.

    What do you think about these?
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    • With regard to whether I think you are causing duplication, please see my answer in the topic titled "Major Flaw in Family Tree".

      With regard to the idea of the the solution being "soon", I addressed this in the same "Major Flaw" topic.

      Thank you Heather for the suggestion to look in the IGI. I appreciate that you are trying to be helpful. The ordinances for my ancestor whose record is combined with that of her sister, are not in the IGI. Good suggestion, though.Sorry for misspelling your name a second time. I have it now.
    • Wendy, did you read the post regarding the missing IGI records. A huge portion of the old IGI is still not showing up in the new database. They are working on getting those added over the next little while.
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  • I agree with gasmodels. I'm not sure any of the options works well. But maybe 2 is the best. For example, I can tell when a record on FT is an incorrectly combined mess up, but I am not always sure what the correct information for each original record is, so correcting by me might be even more of a mess. I would have to find a submitter who has the film #s or sources. However, If the nFS records are clear as to what info belongs with each individual, then separation is do-able. The option not mentioned above that I feel the most comfortable with is having Data Quality take the records apart because they can see the originals, and the temple work associated each original. I just don't think they have enough personnel to handle all the messes. Option 3 doesn't work because no one knows how to do it!
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  • Can't we still combine and separate using third party tools such as Family Insight?
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  • I sure hope not. We see some real messes coming from the 3rd party affiliates.
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  • I don't think I can post it because it copyrighted, but the Oct/Nov issue of the Ohana software newsletter stated that work done in nFS by third-party programs will be migrated to FSFT from now until nFS is turned off some time in 2013. This works because third-party programs access the database through an API, allowing users to do things that are no longer allowed on the nFS website itself. The newsletter states that you can still combine and separate records and reserve ordinances using Family Insight even though you cannot do that if you go to the nFS website.
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    • Thank you for contacting the software vendor and giving them feedback. It helps them to know how to prioritize their work just like this forum helps us to know how to prioritize our work.

      I know some of the third party affiliates try very hard to do the right things and care deeply about keeping the records accurate. They are in a bit of a tough situation right now as they also have to transition their software to deal with the new Family Tree methodologies, and many of them are working hard to get that right, but it will be awkward during this transition.

      I really want our third party affiliates to succeed and do well, because I think they can enhance the variety and choices available. There are some features that I think some of the 3rd party affiliates have done better than FamilySearch, and there are some things they can do that we can't (and vice versa). FamilySearch relies heavily on other organizations -- this work is too large for any one group to accomplish.

      They have to meet the needs of their customers, so if their customers let them know they need to fix things, I expect most of them will respond and do that as best they can. And if they do respond and improve, let others know so those that are working to do a good job get rewarded for their efforts.
    • I know many folks use 3rd party affiliates to sync with nFS and in the future FT. But personally, I don't have the time or brain power to try to "fix" and work with 2 systems. I need to be an expert on FT, even as it mutates. The only way I would use a 3rd party affiliate is to try to keep track of my living realtives, which you can't add to FT without their permission.
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  • FamilyTree does not deal with combined records. Every single person is going to have to have his/her very own record. "What is the point of wasting time 'changing' data in FT that is not relevant because it belongs to a 'different' person than the one you're trying to correct for? " Well, sooner or later, we are going to have to have every individual have an individual record. Yes, the temple records are tangled up right now--there is not a lot we can do about that.

    In the meantime, what we can do is start assigning a single record to each single individual. Eventually, when we finally can separate out the temple records, we'll be able to link up the temple work correctly. In the meantime, yes--there is going to be duplication happening--I don't think anyone doubts that.

    I really feel like the success of this endeavor hinges on being able to separate out those temple records. We can correct the records and relationships, but let's face it--our #1 interest is "whether or not the work has actually been completed."

    We have to be able to separate off those temple records--soon! Are we looking at "years," "months," "weeks?" What is the approximated time table here?
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  • Heather: Your reply didn't address the specifics of my concern which initially has nothing to do with the temple records but the data that belongs to different people. You can, but it is entirely meaningless to change the birthdate of a record when what you're really looking at is a collection of records for 2 or more people. No matter how many times/ways you change the dates, it will still effectively be 'wrong', because none of the dates can be made to address the different people at the same time.
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    • Yes, I am looking ahead regarding how the temple records will eventually tie into FT. However, it is true that the temple records are currently their very own database. When we make changes in NFS or FT, those changes have no impact on the actual temple records. I highly doubt we will ever have access to change the actual temple records. I believe they will always be separate databases.

      The implication of this completely separate database is that these temple ordinances may be associated with an incorrect record in FT, but that doesn't mean the temple ordinance is now that incorrect person's ordinance. The temple records, standing on their own, will always represent the person for whom the temple work was performed for regardless of where they are attached in FT. (It's the same idea that just because I attach a census record to my ancestor doesn't suddenly make the man in the census my ancestor.)

      When FT first came out, I was having fits about the idea that a temple ordinance done on my ancestor's behalf was now attached to a completely different person's record. I even had a Support Missionary tell me that those ordinances belong to whomever they are attached to, and it was just too bad the person doing the ordinance didn't better clarify the identity of the intended individual. That did not set well with me, so I asked a lot of questions and learned that is NOT the situation. The ordinances will always belong to the person for whom they were originally intended. We will just use FT to sort out the temple records and provide information about the individual represented in the temple records.

      There is only one aspect that I find a little questionable. It seems that the programmers intend that we account for every single ordinance that has been done. That accounting includes all the duplication that has taken place. So, if my ancestor was baptized by proxy 300 times, I am expected to attach all 300 baptisms to my ancestor's FT record. (The number 300 is probably an exaggeration, but probably is less of an exaggeration than some would like to admit). My personal preference would be to see a lot of that duplication just left off the FT records. However, I completely understand the reason behind making an accounting for every temple record--it just makes me sad that so much duplication took place in the first place.

      Anyway, once I understood that we will be able to move temple ordinances around and place them on the individual for whom they were actually intended, then I felt a lot better about losing the ability to "uncombine" in NFS. I can feel good about just working to create a perfect FamilyTree for now, and then I can worry about getting the temple ordinances where they belong later when that power is granted.
    • I sincerely doubt that the smart engineers are going to require us to go through all the multiple ordinance work done for an ancestor, unless there is some obvious mix-up due to incorrectly combined records. More than likely they will let us look at them all and then select the earliest work done.
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  • Now that this topic has been thoroughly discussed and brought to light with examples, I am positive that the engineers are working on this problem with various solutions. Keep the faith, be patient, and pray for them. This will be fixed!!!
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  • Heather said: "Have you seen what happens when records get "uncombined" in NFS?"

    Yes I have. It cleans up the data and allows me to put the right people with the right data. I am still submitting ~ 5 cases/day for separating records and see no end in sight for cleaning up the huge mess that is already in place. FT does NOT allow for such critical corrections that absolutely ARE necessary from a data quality perspective.
    • "But I have also been fortunate. While there have been many people involved in the contribution to the data in my family, very few are 'active' on the system so I'm fairly autonomous in cleaning it up."

      I think when you are the only person on FT cleaning up your family, then the "submit to Data Admin and have them uncombine in NFS" option appears in a better light. When there are many people working on the records, having one person decide to invite Data Admin to reset everything is a contentious point.
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  • You can fix things in Family Tree, but the Delete Relationships function, which is what you have to use, as well as the Edit function to change data, using both just means throwing away data and relationships into cyberspace. It makes me very uneasy.
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  • I agree with Cathy. But I have also been fortunate. While there have been many people involved in the contribution to the data in my family, very few are 'active' on the system so I'm fairly autonomous in cleaning it up. It makes me nervous that they could be taking badly combined records and simply 'changing' the data to make it look right, while hopelessly 'losing' the corresponding temple work that might be needed for a combined 'buried' individual.

    So far, I am pleasantly surprised that the one thing I've been able to do most often in FT is find people who have reserved or printed out work to be done, which I've been able to contact them to let them know that the work has already been done, but the data either had errors or was not appropriately combined with the prior work. That happened twice today alone.

    What makes me the most uneasy about both merging and dropping data and separating relationships is not knowing for sure what work has already been done against those relationships. I might still proceed with the action, but knowing the 'rest of the story' might change my actions.
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