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LifeSketch on Beta Person timeline view

I would like to get your comments specifically regarding the LifeSketch feature that is on the current production Person page but is not visible in the Beta test. I know there is some commentary here https://getsatisfaction.com/familysearch/topics/beta-site-really-looks-different but wanted something specific.

Here are some of the facets I'm seeing:
1. The intent of LifeSketch was to have a sketch (kind of like what you would hear at a funeral) of the Person. But this tends to be duplicated info from the various vital, non-vitals, relationships. Thus it can get out of date. What good is lifesketch over the various Person details?
2. I understand how many users have "overloaded" the use of the LifeSketch real estate to put up alerts, like "don't merge this with that" and other such warnings. This is common for user to find a way to accomplish some intent. Do we need an "Alert"? And if so, should there be another "Alert/Warning/Caution" field?
2.b.  And wouldn't users end up putting an alert on every relative: like "Don't mess with this ancestor, he's already fully sourced and what you do will be wrong..."? Would it just Turn into more redundant noise on the Person page?
3. If LifeSketch were removed would it make sense to be somewhere else, like a Memory, where you could tag everyone mentioned?
4. I'm not too worried about the name and placement of lifesketch right now. Once we figure out the intent of the LifeSketch or it's current usage we can think about where to put it. So what intents need to be supported?
5. Any other ideas. you have.
Thanks
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  • This reply was removed on 2018-07-06.
    see the change log
  • 1
    Right. I have contributed to some of the other threads so let me put my oar in here.

    1. I personally don't tend to use the Life Sketch at all. In fact as I have said in other threads I tend to ignore it, whether it is being used for the intended biographical function or for the unintended warning functions.

    2. There is indeed a need for some kind of brake on new users running roughshod over established, good, well-sourced work. The tricky thing is how to achieve this particular end? You have highlighted one of the really, really major pitfalls which could occur if people get territorial with "their" family. As I have mentioned elsewhere another major pitfall is such a system producing extra clicks and warnings that seriously annoy established users who know what they are doing.

    The question is: do we restrict editing of well-sourced individuals, or do we restrict editing by new users? If we restrict editing of well-sourced individuals how do we define what a "well-sourced" individual is? If we restrict editing of well-sourced individuals how do we stop the proliferation of new duplicates, like happens with restricted famous individuals such as Brigham Young? If we restrict editing by new users there is at least the positive that a new user is easy to define! That then moves to the question of how much would editing by new users be restricted? Beyond that is the question of what process has to be gone through to leave the new user, restricted editing state and obtain normal editing rights?

    3. Since I don't use Life Sketch or read it I don't have a preference for where it eventually ends up (if it ends up anywhere), except to say that it should be away from the main landing page for a particular profile. That is because it should contain the sort of information which is of interest if drilling deeper into a particular profile in the system. This placement would encourage its proper use, as would a successful implementation of any restrictions under point 2.

    4 and 5 are not particularly germane to me since I don't actually use or take account of Life Sketch. If the original biographical intent it to be followed then it is vital that some kind of anti-trashing mechanism be in place as mentioned under point 2.
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    David, I am not even sure you can accurately identify new users. I assume there are serious genealogists who have never used FamilyTree before. Granted they may be new to the system, but they may be quite experienced genealogists. However, I think you have accurately described the problem and the basic trade offs. I also only occasionally use Life Sketch.

    What if we changed the name from "Life Sketch" to "Conclusions." Is it possible to format it so that Sources could be tagged to the written conclusions. Sort of like the reason statements we have now, but put in a more prominent place, and written more informatively. And I admit to being guilty of writing less than helpful reasons like "His birth dates and places and family members match." Which birth dates? Which family members? They may have changed since I wrote the reason statement. I have seen plenty of other similarly poorly written reason statements. I try to give specific details like This supports John's birth date of 1865 and that his parents are Rose and Chris and ......, but sometimes laziness takes over.

    I don't like the strongly worded protectionist statements that I sometimes find in Life Sketch. I don't mind polite reminders that the person has sources that prove ABC or being told that there are several people with similar information who shouldn't be confused. Joe maybe that is a good idea. Have a sort of pre-scripted Alert Warning Field. Require people to read it before merging. I understand that it can't be totally pre-scripted. But maybe something like a drop down menu

    ___This person is often confused with______. Please do not merge them or their family members.

    ______This person is well sourced. Please check any sources you add and make sure they are consistent. (Strike that. Even I can see that half the people would check that even if there was only 1 questionable source for the record. The other half would ignore it because they know the source they are adding is correct.)

    Joe, I like putting Life Sketch in Memories. That is where a biography belongs, but I do see the need for some kind of warning or alert on the main page. I understand the frustration of having people destroy well sourced profiles.
    • Well the reason I said that new users are easy to identify is the definition of a new user I was using. That definition is someone who is using FSFT for the first time. It doesn't matter if someone is an experienced genealogist, when they first start editing they are still new to FSFT. For example someone could have done a great deal of work offline and be completely new to online work, or someone could have done work online but only at places with non-collaborative tree paradigms.

      Someone who is experienced at using other systems will be able to move past the new user stage faster than someone who is a complete novice in all aspects of genealogy. Nevertheless we still need a brake on their actions until they realise it's a single tree, collaborative edit environment and until they have demonstrated that they can be trusted not to trash things. After all someone may be extremely experienced at getting things completely wrong!
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    I think there needs to be a place for an alert of some sort, it could even be a smaller amount of text than allowed in the Life Sketch so that people are forced to be brief..
    I have used the Life Sketch to put alerts such as this person is commonly confused with x person or please note these important details about this individual and so forth, and I have found such alerts from others very helpful.
    It really prevents incorrect changes from happening when I use the Life Sketch box for alerts. The same common mistakes tend to happen to the same people over and over, often because there are a bunch of online trees all copying the same bad information. If I can alert people right off right at the top of the page so that they don't miss important information, it forces people to think before they act. Some records have hundreds of sources and many notes and discussions, people don't generally wade through all of that, but they will read a one or two paragraph summary at the top of the page.
    I can stop almost all undocumented changes by using the life sketch as an alert, along with sources and notes. Most records are straightforward and no alert is needed. But an alert can be hugely beneficial for more complex individuals and research situations.
    Yes people sometimes put rather possessive comments there something's, but I don't see this as a problem either, it tells me this record is particularly important to someone and to tread more carefully.
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  • I am not sure why this post was listed as a Question. I think it's being largely overlooked because this part of GetSatisfaction is often overlooked. I would post it with the main group of Ideas if you want more feedback.
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  • Here are a few examples of how I have used the Life Sketch more as an alert if it helps: LC54-4DM, KL95-M1F, K4T8-X2W, LDWJ-YFD, LHLY-SVS, LZVC-6SN, KWV9-WPY (first paragraph)
    I had all of this information previously in the Notes but people continually overlooked them and I was correcting them back multiple times.
    Then I added the information to the Life Sketch box and now these records stay stable. All of these are ancestors in very large Mormon pioneer families where poor research was done years ago that people have copied ever since. There are hundreds of online trees and old books out there that people have copied for years and so the same bad research resurfaces. But not with a good summary of the problems in the Life Sketch.
    Another idea is that you could just allow someone to promote one of the Notes so that it's more prominent, that could also serve the needed purpose of an alert, just to have some way to make sure that the most important information for a record can be emphasized and not overlooked.
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  • I didn't respond to one of your questions. Yes I think you could put Life Sketch in the Memories if it's being used as a life sketch. Or keep it in the Talk section like you have it in the bets version.
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  • 1
    In the new User Interface, I would like to see:

    1) the option to have a patron-created "Notice" that the same patron can turn on or off, that will display as part of the name Banner or just under it.

    2) Have users post the various portions of a person's life sketch details as anecdotal comments in appropriate places in the timeline, thus helping paint a more complete picture. It would need to be one of the Filters (as that feature is currently called) so people can turn it off, or have it displayed.

    Such comments may be tied to an event, such as "Bob was best man at his brother Richard's wedding" or "Bob was a Paul bearer at his brother Richard's funeral." These are likely not currently included in a life sketch at the moment, but this kind of thing could encourage people to paint a more complete picture of their relatives. Photos (as memories) could be attached to these comments.

    Family photographs could also be worked into the timeline. For instance, I just picked up a photo of the children in a family at a certain point in time. While I can split apart the photo into individual pictures and post the entire photo as a memory that I can tag, I can also see the photo attached to a dated comment, "The children were gathered for a group photo in (place)."

    This may be a bit more aggressive than the developers are ready to incorporate, but it would be wonderful way to add great details to a person's history.

    In thinking a bit more about this, the entire dated comment could be posted as a story with a photograph in memories, which could then be linked into the life sketch of each parent (even though they are not in the photo) and each child in the photo.

    Just some thoughts.
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  • Sorry to be off topic, Joe, but is there any way that this discussion thread can be displayed in the FamilySearch forum on Get Satisfaction. If it wasn't for the links in the discussion threads, I would never have seen your question. Do you have other questions that we have not seen because they don't show up in the Community index or whatever you call that screen where all the thread topics are displayed?
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    I would like the Life Sketch to appear first under the DETAILS tab like it does now in the Production Site. (See image mock-up below). I would also like to have an “Alert/Warning/Caution” field added, perhaps on the Details line of hyperlinked items, with a RED EXCLAMATION POINT symbol showing only when someone has added text to that field.

    I really like to use the Life Sketch section to post a brief summary of the family members, occupations, accomplishments, military history, and the other purposes mentioned below. Many times, I will post a newspaper obituary in this section which contains that brief summary of the person’s life.

    Help / Help Center / Family Tree / Life Sketch

    https://beta.familysearch.org/ask/sal...

    Life Sketch

    Use the Life Sketch section to provide a brief description of a person.
    A life sketch is typically an informal, short outline of a life.
    You can add one life sketch for a person. You cannot link the same sketch to other people.
    Any user can add or edit a life sketch.
    Life sketches have a limit of 10,000 characters.
    Life sketches can help prevent incorrect merges and relationships.

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  • 1
    I've only ever used the Life Sketch for the Famous Relative's claim to fame, and even that is just a single sentence fragment.

    This is one of the areas where WikiTree is very different from FS FT, because on WT the biography is where you end up putting nearly everything you know about the person. (Yes, sometimes the bio and the database contain contradictory information, due to typos, or due to corrections made in one place but not the other.) Of course the quantity and quality vary greatly; some profiles on WT have an entire encyclopedia article, while others only have machine-generated fragments.

    My personal preference is much closer to the FS FT end of the spectrum; I'm collecting facts and figures, not writing a novel. Any time I try to put facts into a narrative format, I find that I can't avoid adding a noticeable layer of opinion, and I feel uncomfortable doing that, even (or especially?) for people I knew well -- other relatives' experiences of that same person are inevitably going to be different. There is a place for personal narratives in genealogy, but in FS FT's terminology, they belong under "memories", not in prominently-featured headlines.

    In summary: my answer to question 1 is that I don't see much point to a narrative biography as part of a family tree, but I acknowledge that opinions on this vary greatly.

    I don't have any personal experience addressing question 2, but I understand _why_ people have been using Life Sketch for Alerts: it defaults to practically the first thing you see on a profile page. If the current beta UI went live, I think people would start entering alerts under Birth or Christening, so that they would show up right at the top of the Timeline.

    3: yes, putting a narrative biography option under Memories makes sense to me.

    4: I don't know of any uses for the current field other than the already-discussed biographies and alerts. Both uses need a home in the new UI. The biography function does not need to be front and center, but the Alert function very much does; as I wrote above, that's the whole reason people have been re-purposing that particular field this way.
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  • 1
    I am in general in agreement with Juli with regard to the Life Sketch. I have not used in very much except for a few situations where there seemed to be disagreement on some important facts. In that case I wrote a life sketch to document what I believed was know from the sources and pointed out issues that had been assumed but were not backed up with any documentation.

    With regard to some sort of Alert, I would like something very visible to all but I would rather see it named ISSUES - This would allow one to enter situations where incorrect merges had been done to warn others not to repeat the mistake. It would also allow other issues such as which spouse is correct or which parents are correct to be written down so that others would be aware of concerns that another user is expressing and some collaboration might occur. For many entries, there are issues because information is not complete or there are conflicts in attached sources that need to be documented somewhere such that they can be resolved by all interested users. The current notes and discussion have proven to be inadequate for this purpose.
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    I also agree there needs to be some sort of highly visible Alert or Heads-up area. I have in the past placed certain information that was important to be conveyed into the Life Sketch because the current Notes and Discussion areas were not at the top. Sometimes it was just a sentence like, Please see discussion “Child of different spouse” etc
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  • 1
    I'm surprised to read that, like me, a number of patrons do not make much use of Life Sketch. I would have thought that LDS users would have been particularly keen to fill in all known details (perhaps even anecdotes) about their individual ancestors and relatives. I'm more of a "genealogy" person than a "family history" one, so dates and places are my main inputs to Family Tree. Therefore, I would be happy if Life Sketch were to be placed under Memories, as they are not part of my day to day activity in FT. In time, I will probably add biographical notes (in Life Sketch) to my ancestors, but I feel this is one section that (if used for its original purpose) can afford to be "hidden away" from the main page.

    An "Alert" section - positioned as prominently as possible - would be a really important addition: currently we just don't know the best place to highlight important issues (Life Sketch, Discussions, Notes?). True, it could be overworked by "protective" users - by adding "Do not merge with..", "Do not make any changes" comments to practically everyone in "their tree". However, if a patron finds that others are constantly making the same mistakes over a person who is well-sourced and identified, there should be a consistent means of highlighting a fact in a hope this might at least reduce some of the unjustified changes to well researched IDs. As an example, over the last few years, three other users have added the same christening details to one of my ancestors. Currently, there is no evidence to show where and when she was christened, so I assume they have lifted this detail from an Ancestry tree or elsewhere.

    There is a clear need to have a well positioned Alerts section, where all but the most irresponsible users would choose to look before adding detail (or making changes) for which there is no strong evidence, or about which they might have slight doubts.
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    Q1 - "What good is lifesketch over the various Person details?"
    Currently the events etc have no ability to include free-format text, which LS can. However, because the LS can easily get out of step with the events etc, it would make far more sense to allow a free-format text note to be included with the events and (undateable) facts. Make it a decent size text note because it might, for instance, cover someone's military service. Once that is done I see no reason for new LS items. (If you want to write biographies, which is a laudable aim, go and get yourself a free Wordpress blog!) (Surely most desk-top genealogy programs allow text notes against events and facts?)

    Q2 "Do we need an "Alert"?"
    Based on the current "mis-use" of LifeSketch - yes. (The "misuse" serves an important purpose and seems to work for some people, so it should not be lost).

    Q2b "And wouldn't users end up putting an alert on every relative" Most people are far too lazy to do that! Anyone who puts a lot of alerts up, probably has good reason.

    Extra point - it would be useful to reconsider the whole range of Life-Sketch, Notes, Discussions, Memories (especially Stories....)

    Every time I want to use one of Notes or Discussions, I need to recheck what each is for - as one word titles, they are not clear. The real distinction I need to check is - which one protects my text? That's effectively resulting in another mis-use.

    And what is the point of a Story that is outside the Life Sketch? Surely some confusion of purpose there?

    Extra point 2 - if the meaning of "Life-Sketch, Notes, Discussions, Memories (especially Stories....) " is altered, things need to be automatically moved to their new home.
    • I agree about the confusion between Notes and Discussions. I never remember which one allows deletion and which one doesn't.

      I had forgotten that there's already a Stories option under Memories. I'm also much more of a genealogist than a family historian, so I have made only minimal use of Memories. (Of the seven items I have in my gallery, six are source images, and the seventh is a portrait from a 19th century magazine biography.)

      I think a good place for a used-as-intended Life Sketch is at the top of an individual profile's Memories tab. I'm not sure about combining it completely with Stories: the difference is subtle or minor, but not nonexistent. (A Life Sketch implies some effort toward completeness, a Story doesn't.)
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    Life Sketch would be better under the "Memories" tab assuming that an Alert/Heads-up/Warning/Caution/ReadMe/Notice/Issues (by whatever name) section be added to the top of the detail page. Its function would be to put certain genealogical comments that would be advantageous and expedient to known.

    Please add below your examples of appropriate comments that might be included in such a section.
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