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I refuse to be a (merge - duplicate and fix-it person) for a dysfunctional GEDCOM way of uploading new data to the "Family Tree."

I first added my ancestors one by one to the FamilySearch "Family Tree," by typing in all information. I don't know why I am saddled with having to be the merge - duplicate and fix-it person because of a dysfunctional GEDCOM way of adding new data to the "Family Tree."

"We recognize that the process [GEDCOMs] is clunky and time consuming. However, we need to have a way for users to add their data to Family Tree that is not already in Family Tree without retyping it all in." - Ron Tanner

I am to now spend MY TIME fixing the "Family Tree," or merging duplicates, so others that are new to the FamilySearch "Family Tree" won't have to spend THEIR TIME typing in new data?
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  • In my newspaper today was an article about the "scandal" of existing customers having their home insurance policies increased by huge amounts on renewal, whereas new customers can purchase the identical product for a fraction of the price.

    What relevance to this post? In both cases it seems loyal customers / patrons are being treated very badly, just to attract new ones. Like Don, I patiently added my relatives, one by one, to Family Tree and am now being given the task of clearing up lots of new duplicates caused by FamilySearch's unwillingness to address this issue.

    Please Ron, don't just "get it" (ref https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea...) - fix it!
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  • Thursday (tomorrow) is the opportunity (and one that I will miss) that we will have to hammer Ron Tanner about his reasoning with respect to all the cleanup we are left from the duplicates produced by a dysfunctional compare function (old code is not an excuse to leave it running).

    The session is slated for U.S. Mountain Daylight Time 7:30 PM. He posted this on his Facebook Account:

    "We have a live coming up this week, do you have a question? You can leave it here: https://goo.gl/forms/EI4LJkYV31VvFiFt2 "

    Leave copies of your comments and questions for Ron, or drop him an email to ron@familysearch.org

    If he gets flooded with our dissatisfaction, he might just get something done about stopping the madness, which is not the fault of the patrons, but of FamilySearch and its instructions that tell them to Contribute their GEDCOM to Family Tree.
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    Typing ones genealogical information into the FamilySearch "Family Tree" means they will probably stay and work in the "Family Tree." Unlike the patrons who do as Stephanie Spencer Booth states: "We should be working on this tree as the Savior taught, one-by-one, not uploading thousands at a time and walking away from it."
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    Besides adding each person one-by-one, users can add people to the Tree via Ancestry, MyHeritage, Legacy Family Tree, Roots Magic, Ancestral Quest, GEDCOM, and any other software that allows writing to the Tree.

    Currently we only see the reason listed as GEDCOM when all the rest is happening with no reason listed. Perhaps FamilySearch should just remove the reasoning that is being imported with GEDCOM.

    In my merging of thousands of duplicates, a few hundred have come with reasoning of GEDCOM. The majority have no reason. Could have been added manually one-by-one or written into the Tree with other genealogy management software. Or could have been seeded into the Tree from nFS (Ancestral File, Personal Resource File, IGI, etc).

    Sometimes I'm the creator of the duplicate as I'm adding from Source Linker and the software can't find the duplicate until I add someone else with a relationship to that person. Then I find the duplicates. And I quickly merge them.

    So, I continue to move forward pruning and preening my portion of the Tree. This involves merging duplicates - some new and some very old. In the thousands of duplicates, the few hundred flagged GEDCOM are some recent and some old. But I continue to move forward.

    I've seen the uploads from GEDCOMs and I know the duplication that exists.

    The other thousands of duplicates ... where did they come from? Individual users adding one-by-one, grandparents using Ancestral File and seeding the Tree from nFS, other users using Ancestral Quest or RootsMagic and the like. Some from my distant cousins who are all about everything Ancestry trees.

    We have been told by FS engineers that the amount of duplication via GEDCOM is minimal in comparison to other ways of duplication. The genealogy management software tools that write to the Tree also need some help in making their software identify duplication. Perhaps they create more duplication than GEDCOM?! Perhaps what is in the Tree already from other users and from seeding from nFS has more duplication than GEDCOM. The engineers can see where all the data feeds are coming from and they know how much duplication comes from each upload. FS engineers are aware of all the ways that duplication is happening in the Tree and they are working on ways to minimize the duplication from ingest. We need to give them time to figure it all out.

    I guess we each have to determine what kind of pruning and preening in the Tree we are willing to do. Are we willing to merge duplicates? Even the ones that show up tomorrow from some electronic way of a new contributor joining the Tree?

    We can agree to disagree with each other. I know my opinion is not what you want to hear. My suggestion to FS engineers is to remove the reasoning associated with GEDCOM. Then you won't know where the duplication comes from.
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    • Thanks Don. I know it is not in compliance with the open edit concept. However, currently all other modes of adding in people - via other genealogy software is not indicated. If someone added someone via Ancestry, RootsMagic, etc - the Tree doesn't show the reason as Ancestry, RootsMagic, etc. So my suggestion is either state in the reason fields how people from the other electronic uploads are being added or remove GEDCOM. I believe that if the other ways were also being shown in the reason statements, we would see that GEDCOM is minimal in comparison to other methods.
    • FamilySearch should allow the names of all electronic uploads, so that we would know for certain, as the FS engineers, their origin.
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  • Don Martin Thomas 8 days ago

    Tom, will the stopping of using GEDCOMs also STOP the transferring of data from ancestry.com to the FamilySearch "Family Tree?" I don't know how the transferring of ancestry.com data is transferred over to the "Family Tree," (never had a reason to use that process), but I had 6 duplicates of a family which showed as a reason GEDCOM, but it was a transferring of data from ancestry.com to the "Family Tree."
    --------------------

    Stephanie Spencer Booth 8 days ago

    Don, Transferring from Ancestry.com is a ONE-BY-ONE process and it doesn't leave the reason "GEDCOM data." I have found that this method of transferring is better at finding duplicates in Family Tree than FamilySearch is. If you are finding lots of duplicates of a family by someone using Ancestry.com to transfer, then the user doesn't know how to use it properly. [Capitol letters ONE-BY-ONE added by Don Martin Thomas]
    --------------------
    https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea...
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  • Hi Amy,

    You wrote and asked, "The other thousands of duplicates ... where did they come from? Individual users adding one-by-one, grandparents using Ancestral File and seeding the Tree from nFS, other users using Ancestral Quest or RootsMagic and the like. Some from my distant cousins who are all about everything Ancestry trees."

    Until very recently, anything recorded in Ancestry that was added to FamilySearch FamilyTree, had to be manually added via copy and paste, which meant starting with the name, and likely with an existing person in the tree. Then each fact and event conclusion had to be added. Only very recently can LDS members who have an Ancestry account they activated as part of the agreement between FamilySeach and Ancestry, could information (including sources) be transferred between the two systems. It is bidirectional in nature. It is also, in my opinion, still in development,

    PAF, Ancestral Quest, RootsMagic, and Legacy are all standalone genealogy programs that had an interface with either FamilySearch or the preceding newFamilySearch system. PAF has been retired, but Ohana Software allowed a PAF database to be interfaced with the tree in newFamilySearch. It had some very good features, but with the advent of FSFT, and the discontinuation of PAF, it no longer exists.

    Ancestral Quest, RootsMagic, and Legacy all meet or exceed certain requirements to be fully certified. These requirements are also two-way, but include elements like reason statements, which the patron can either update or replace with their own reasoning for their conclusions. They also provide a means to fix the place standard and dates are transferred, not as a text string, but as a number, which allows for different formats on both sides while maintaining the date between them.

    These last three also have similar abilities, but different "look and feel" and approaches to what they can do while maintaining full certification. This includes the ability to download ancestors and/or descendants from FSFT. Ancestral Quest Basics, a limited free version of Ancestral Quest, is a very PAF-like program that is very similar in "look and feel" to the old PAF program.

    For LDS, they also have the ability to reserve and print temple ordinance cards for proxy temple work. The feature is optional and many people who use the programs are not members and therefore never see any ordinance information in their local database.

    Prior to the late summer of 2016, FSFT and newFamilySearch (nfS) were joined "at the hop" and any entries made to either were update in the other. Sourcing was now encouraged, but was (and still is) limited as to how the sources are identified with the conclusions for a given person. Only the vital information portions can actually have sources tagged to them. I am in hopes that eventually every fact and event, whether it is in the Vital Information section, the Other Information section, or in the couple relationship area, can have sources tagged to them.

    Anyway, the point is that before late summer of 2016, the duplicates were largely from previous systems, which goes all the way back to hand-written records. LDS were infamously involved with copying each other's records, often by hand, which introduced many, many differences between the original record and the resulting copy, The copies were subsequently copied and those were subsequently copied until many copies for the same family existed. Each LDS adult was encourage to submit a four generation (starting with themselves) pedigree and corresponding Family Group Sheets (FGSs). Many of the FGSs were second, third, or more generation copies and when the four-generation program submissions were compiled, they became part of the records in nFS and eventually found their way into FSFT, which is where many duplicates came from.

    According to Jim Greene, who often spoke with us in the Missionary Training Zone of the Church and Family History Mission in Salt Lake, some 80 percent of the duplicates came out of the temple department because so many members performed the same ordinances over and over and over... Thus the vast majority of the duplicate (which will have pre-2016 creation dates in the Change Log) came from duplicated ordinances. Most had no sources because very little importance had been placed upon recording the sources for the information.

    nFS and FSFT were still joined and GEDCOM files could be uploaded into the old Ancestral File program, which eventually became the Pedigree Resource File system. Most of those pedigrees were from non-members who wanted to contribute to the system. Although there is some duplication of sources, most were free of the many problems plaguing the FGSs and temple ordinance records.

    The nFS, until late in its effective life, lacked any kind of useful mechanism for merging records. During the time when there were still sections of American which did not have its records added to nFS, a means was developed to combine two records, but I do not remember a lot about the process -- it has been a long time ago, at least a decade. Those combined records do not show up in a change log, since nFS lacked a log to record any changes. Ron Tanner reported that during the early days of FSFT, it lacked a complete log, and still today, there are elements of the record that are not tracked in the current log.

    According to Ron, the compare and add features involved with uploading a GEDCOM is older code and as such is essentially the same as the code used in nFS when a GEDCOM could be uploaded to the tree in that system. Therefore, GEDCOM in a reason statement may refer to a file that was imported in nFS or one that was imported with similar code in FSFT. It is also, from what I can tell, the only method that attaches the GEDCOM name in the reason statement and does not have the patron's name attached.

    One of the overriding goals of FamilySearch FamilyTree was to reduce the number of new duplicate records. With the exception of the GEDCOM system, that has largely been achieved. The old code of the GEDCOM system not only misses many existing records in FamilyTree, but also instructs the patron to add those it did not find. And that is where the current program exists.

    I believe that only a few of newer duplicates are created manually since nFS and FSFT were finally separated. I believe the bulk of the new duplicates (since late 2016) are coming from the dysfunctional compare and Add routines when a GEDCOM file is uploaded into Genealogies. At least, that has been my experience.
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  • Duplication is Duplication no matter where it comes from.

    SHOULDN'T FAMILY SEARCH BE FOR GETTING RID OF ALL DUPLICATION, NO MATTER HOW IT APPEARS IN THE FAMILY TREE, instead of justifying their dysfunctional GEDCOM way of uploading new data to the "Family Tree," by stating: "the amount of duplication via GEDCOM is minimal in comparison to other ways of duplication."

    I think I started working in the FamilySearch "Family Tree" in 2012. From my side of the aisle all I see is duplicates made by the uploading and compare process of new members adding their data to the "Family Tree" via dysfunctional GEDCOMs AND COMPARE which they do at this computer address: https://www.familysearch.org/family-t...

    I am tired of merging duplicates - FamilySearch - do something!
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  • Amy

    The serious issue to me is that FamilySearch management is not only allowing GEDCOMs to be added to Family Tree, but it is actively ENCOURAGING the action.

    When I added a GEDCOM to Genealogies the page at https://www.familysearch.org/mytrees/... did not exist. There was no encouragement to add individuals to Family Tree, just to Genealogies.

    Whatever, the other reasons for duplicates (obviously the movement of IGI data - which led to the import of ten sets of duplicate parents for ten-child families - caused serious problems. However, the introduction of the page at https://www.familysearch.org/mytrees/... has extended the problem unnecessarily. Until the FS engineers can work something out it should be withdrawn and replaced by a page simply directing prospective patrons to links for them to upload to the Genealogies section alone.

    One other thing, sorry, but I find your comment, "My suggestion to FS engineers is to remove the reasoning associated with GEDCOM. Then you won't know where the duplication comes from," to be quite astonishing.
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    • Why did they need to use a GEDCOM upload for the activity? If it was a three-generation upload of direct ancestors then we are talking 12 people that were added to FSFT in each case. Using Rootsmagic I've added more entries than that in under 5 minutes. Even using manual creation I've sometimes created more entries than that in a few minutes when linking in a particularly large family from a census transcription.

      In many cases I've started with work colleagues or acquaintances and asked them a few simple questions to get back to the most recent dead generation. I have then entered that most recent dead generation into FSFT and started searching for records. In all cases I found record matches and was able to tie them into the larger FSFT very quickly. I did create a small number of duplicates, but I cleaned them up after finding out they were duplicates. All of those forays into other people's lines were done entirely manually. Indeed in a number of cases I did them using the Android app on my phone. No GEDCOMs involved or needed.

      As others have repeatedly said the compare functionality in the GEDCOM upload workflow is badly broken. I tested this myself, downloading a 4 generation descendency from an entry already in FSFT. All of the entries in the download were already in FSFT as well and all were marked as deceased in FSFT. I then exported a GEDCOM file from Rootsmagic and uploaded it to the genealogies section. The compare function suggested that I create two duplicate entries for people in that GEDCOM. It also suggested that a child who DIED IN 1877 WAS LIVING AND THUS INELIGIBLE FOR INCLUSION IN FSFT. This was information downloaded from FSFT, put in a genealogy database, exported to GEDCOM and uploaded straight back to genealogies. No edits were made on it of any kind and no changes were made except those imposed by the importation process and creation of GEDCOM process. Why on earth should the system not be able to match everything in those circumstances? Why on earth should the system suggest a child who died in 1877 was alive?

      Until and unless the compare functionality can match every entry in FSFT in situations like that it is broken. That is the problem. That is why the constant stream of posts asking for the import functionality to be disabled is happening.
    • This comment was removed on 2018-05-16.
      see the change log
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  • Amy,

    The Gedcoms are eating OUR TIME enormously than before, not giving us much time to add complete new persons, new families as well as not enough time to attach sources.

    Sources were often discovered already attached to duplicate sets despite source hints, forcing us to step out of source attaching into merge mode to get it fixed each time.

    I've been working on mine as well as helping 6 other friends. Total time doing away with duplicates? =about 5 hours each day! Vast majority so far were from Gedcoms dated 2017 and 2018, most recent I came across was 29 April 2018.

    Gedcoms need to be completely cut off from FamilyTree through whatever method necessary to require the submitter to check each "new addition". I've came across many entries where older and more complete PIDs getting merged into newer and *INCOMPLETE* PIDS, triggering red flags for incomplete date and place entries. (Good Grief for having spent more time to fix those red flags!)
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    Went to the Temple today and remembered that I can not say the word "refuse" when it comes to the Gospel. I AM A MERGE - DUPLICATE AND FIX-IT UP PERSON in the FamilySearch "Family Tree."
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