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I’m frustrated

Consistent use of standards across all of FamilySearch

I wish that the Library Catalog and the standard place finder/new FamilySearch would use the same standards for English shires. As an example - in nFS, it's Yorkshire but in the catalog you have to use York. I'd love it if they were consistent with each other!
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  • Thanks for the feedback Mike, the basic catalog for all places, name, and date standards are shared across all FamilySearch applications, but how they display or transform a search string still differs somewhat. The consistency of that is still being worked on so you're comments are appreciated.

    Mark Ward
    sr. product manager, familysearch.org
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  • I have found that new FamilySearch and Family Tree have Elfsborg as the standard county in sweden but the standard finder and the catalog has Älvsborg as the standard place.
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  • Thanks Christopher, Elfsborg is an accepted name variant for Alvsborg but the primary reading should be Alvsborg as expressed in Standard Finder.

    Mark Ward
    sr. product manager, familysearch.org
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  • 1
    Some of the problems with variant or alternative place names would be solved if the new beta catalog made use of the cross references already available in the old catalog. Until the new catalog has the functionality of the old catalog, researchers are better off sticking with the classic version.

    Searching Ostfold will now get you to Østfold, but searching for Copenhagen will get you nowhere. Thank you for fixing the problem with diacritics and special characters, but let's follow the cross references that exist in the older version. You would then be linked from Yorkshire to York, Bedfordshire to Bedford, Buckinghamshire to Buckingham, etc.
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    • One of the biggest problems is that the new catalog does not get updated when the old catalog does. It has to be updated separately.

      Many of the other things are more ease of use than functionality. The related place feature is very nice in the old catalog.

      I find it easier to find lower level localities in the old catalog than in the new catalog (especially in places where the localities changed a lot) because the names of the higher level localities changed more often than many of names of the lower level localities. The new catalog (at least in appearance) favors searching by higher level localities and finding the specific lower level locality.
    • Thanks for the detail.

      The new catalog is updated more regularly than before. Our goal is to deliver a nightly update and we are just about there.

      Agreed on the Related Places feature. We have that on our list of future features for the new catalog.
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  • I have a theory about the inconsistencies between the catalog and the nFS locality prompts. I think the county names were taken from the Dewey Decimal Classification area tables. Specifically the 18th edition which was the last edition to use the pre 1974 county names. I don't have any proof for this, but it's the only thing that makes sense to me.

    The FHL catalog prefers the Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales for local place names. Alternatives are Bartholomew's Survey Gazetteer of the British Isles or The Ordnance survey gazetteer of Great Britain. These all use the shire ending for the counties, so on that point to the catalog doesn't follow it's own standards.

    The Family History Library does have a large book collection for the British Isles. It also uses its own application of the Dewey Decimal system. The older editions of Dewey drop the shire from shire counties. (Not all counties were shires.) My theory is that in organizing the British collection, the catalogers followed Dewey for the counties and the gazetteers for the local places. If someone has a better explanation, I'd love to hear it.
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  • I can't help but cite a famous quotation here:

    "The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them."

    Most often attributed to Andrew S. Tanenbaum, but I would like to believe the alternate theory that assigns it to Grace M. Hopper.

    Now, it should be clear to everyone, that if standards are going to do any good, we all have to agree how the thing should be done. Multiple proposals for standards are a good thing while we are in the planning stages, but all the discrepancies need to be resolved before we get very far into construction, or else we risk developing systems that don't work properly, at great cost.
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  • There is one additional thing to consider. In the FamilySearch catalog the places presented are first taken from the data and then standardized.

    What that means is that if "Michigan" is a place found in the catalog then typing MI will bring back the standardized place in the name list. If however "Illinois" was not found in the catalog (this is a contrived example) then typing a portion of it's name should not bring back Illinois as a place name option.

    In a larger sense, using the same standards throughout the site is indeed the place we all desire to arrive at.
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  • 1
    I don't believe that is true, or I don't understand your example. The catalogers look at what they find, but then match it against the naming standards. If a cataloger sees Ellsmere on a document and he finds Ellesmere in the gazetteer, he will use Ellesmere as the access point because it is the standard. That is the purpose of having standards and a controlled vocabulary.

    If a researcher types Ellsmere in the new catalog, the matching stops when the "s" is typed. The catalog doesn't offer any help. That's a problem.

    What is worse, however, is that if you type in Copenhagen the new catalog will take you to a blind reference. As you type "Copen" the catalog will lead you to choose the county or city. If you choose either one the new catalog comes to a dead end. In the old catalog, if you choose either Copenhagen city or county the catalog will tell you that it is using København for the names.

    I'm blending two issues into this conversation. The use of accepted name standards means that you must use the system's terminology to get the results you want. This will bring back all relevant results no matter what the actual usage was in a document. The second part of this is to supply cross references from the user's vocabulary to the system's vocabulary.

    First, in the case of English shires, the system (the FS Catalog) isn't true to it's own standards. That should be corrected. Second, the old catalog had functionality the new catalog doesn't. The old catalog has working cross references while the new catalog doesn't. That too should be corrected.
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  • I’m frustrated with the beta version
    Yorkshire now appears in the classic catalog. So does Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, and others. I suspect the rest of the shires will be in soon. The bad news is that the beta catalog has dropped all listings for both York (county) and Yorkshire. The same is true for the other counties that have been changed to shires. One step forward, two steps backward.
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