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I’m happy

Note field to help indexers explain reasoning to reviewers.

A small note field as part of each record could be helpful to arbitrators or others reviewing our work. We could, (but would not be required to), note our thought processes that lead to a solution. As an example I was indexing Alexander O. Redentz. None of the "R" names in the list were even close. The lawyer and/or the Clerk made an exaggerated flourishing letter "R" for the start of the last name. and separated the "O" with a period as an initial. All of the writers clearly showed the "tz" ending. The groom Signed the name by connecting the "O" and the "r". When I used the "O" as the first letter and the "tz" as the last letter only one name came up Overholtz. I could just hear the poor man trying to explain the name was Alexander ----- Orderholz not Alexander O. anything. A quick check of that counties records revealed many Overhauls, OverHaus, Overall, and similar names.
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  • 10
    I'd like to wholeheartedly support this proposal. There are times when I've taken a lot of time and effort either to decypher something that was unclear on the original document, or to check that an unusual word is in fact the correct one, and being able to briefly note why I've typed whatever it is I've entered would help to avoid the frustration of seeing that work needlessly discarded by an arbitrator who either simply marks the field "unreadable" or discards the correct but unusual word in favour of a vaguely similar but more familiar one which is, in fact, wrong.

    I'd dearly like to see it taken one step further, with arbitrators being able to add brief notes to explain, where they feel it might help the indexers, why they've gone for one indexer's version rather than the other's. That will address two issues - first, the supposed purpose of being able to review the arbitration results is in order to learn, but if you don't know *why* an abitrator made a decision, there's little learning to be had; and second, in the many instances where each indexer has entered valid, but slightly differing, data, it would help to reduce the frustration felt by indexers if the arbitrator were able to note this, and explain briefly why they chose one version rather than the other during their arbitration.
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  • I’m frustrated
    9
    Not only would a note to indexers be helpful, but also when requesting arbitraton feedback an indexer could indicate why - such as 5th name in census missed, not what was to be indexed, check groom's full name at bottom of page. I would also like to see a reason why a batch was sent back to be reindexed - maybe then arbitrators wouldn't see the same indexing errors repeated.
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  • I’m hopeful.
    6
    When I index, I will frequently go to other census/sources to see if I can find the same family with the name readable. When you know what it's supposed to be, it is much easier to make out the letters (I do index what's there, though.) It's discouraging to see it come back with some completely wrong name.
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  • 9
    I would LOVE to be able to write a short note when requesting review! We indexers are to learn from the arbitration but it's really disheartening when you've followed the instructions to a T (so to speak) and the arbitrator hasnt, resulting in them changing a field through a whole batch (over 160 address fields in one batch today!) When you know you've done something right, it would be somewhat of a relief to be able to quote the instruction and where it was found, so that the arbitrator can also learn. To have a 90% result when it should be 100% is enough to put me off indexing, when such a long time has been spent reading instructions and updates, and then hours indexing. A place for a note to be written when requesting review, would be beneficial to all parties. Also would allow us to note just once when a field throughout a whole batch has been incorrectly arbitrated, instead of having to sit and click 'feedback' 160+ times for one batch. I did that once, but never again. Took me a LONG time, time I cant get back, time I'd rather spend indexing .....or sitting outside in my garden!
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  • 6
    As both and indexer and arbitrator a "notes field" for the use of both would be great. The number of times I find myself apologising to the indexer because I have had to change an entry as they have not followed project instructions or wishing I could say to the arbitrator why I had entered specific information

    It would lead to a much improved quality of indexing and greater understanding of the processes in place.
    As an indexer, especially when the arbitrator has not followed the project instructions, it would be an immediate response and again improve the level of arbitration.
    My concern with this however is that some people would be abusive of the system whether intentionally or not.
    Perhaps the notes field would have a drop down system that allows only certain comments eg " basic instructions not followed" or "see project updates" or "field was blank"
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    • "Wordy" can be handled by limiting the number of characters that the indexer/arbitrator can enter. However, although I'd prefer a short text entry box, I can understand the desire to avoid snide remarks and insults. A drop-down list can work as long as it's sufficiently comprehensive. Otherwise you end up with the intensely annoying situation where you want to communicate something but can't because none of the options cover what you need to say. Such as, as an indexer, flagging up to the arbitrator that, despite the fact that the occupation you've entered is little known and involves an unusual/specialised term that might not be familiar, you've verified it by googling the term, and are confident it's correct. Perhaps "Verified via Google" or something along those lines would cover those situations. Having a drop-down list that doesn't cover what you want to communicate is almost as frustrating (or possibly even *more* frustrating at times!) than not having any means of communication at all.
    • Perhaps the arbitrators should have to pass an intelligence test to see how well they understand written indexing instructions. Also, they should be taught to compare questionnable letters in names with other names written by the same enumerator to dertemine how that particular writes ambiguous-looking letters.

      This isn't rocket science. Many of the arbitrators are clearly not taking their job seriously or just don't give a damn about finding the correct answers.
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  • 1
    I agree a drop-down list would not be specific enough, but a short reason would be better. That way the person reviewing the feedback request would know what to look for. Also if we could somehow mark a returned indexed batch. I recently had a number of the NY census returned when they were not what was to be indexed (only Population Schedule No. 1) and I had marked the "no extractable data" - there were others that were indexed - giving me several very low scores, which I have not figured out how I got anything but a zero. Also a way to mark a whole field if the entire field was done incorrectly would be nice.
    • I've had that happen to me also, where the arbitrator has wanted Death Schedules indexed or has sent them back for reindexing when I marked them NED. A "Project Instructions not followed" on a list would cover that. Can you imagine how many specific items would have to be on a list to cover every single rule and instruction in the guidelines and project instructions/updates? I would also rather be able to specifically address the problem so it's very clear to the arbs what they did wrong, but I can really see that getting out of control since I've seen very negative comments posted elsewhere.
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  • 4
    I think that the drop down may be the best option and it can be as comprehensive as we require- goodness look how much information exists in the current dropdown options.
    In addition we could have a short text option if no other selection covers.
    I am certain that a few heads together can come up with a solution
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  • 1
    There should be no reason for snide remarks. If we just remember we are all volunteers doing the best we can to get the information out there for others to be able to locate their family.
    • You're right. There should be no snide remarks, but from what I've seen on various forums, there would be because there are many who disagree that everyone is doing the best they can. The general consensus of people voicing opinions, that I see, is that if arbitrators aren't familiarizing themselves with the Basic Indexing Guidelines, aren't familiar with the arbitration tutorial so they don't even know they're supposed to record match, and aren't even reading the project specific instructions and updates, then they're not doing the best they can. This is too important a work to have people who are the last word either disregarding the rules or not even knowing that there are rules and how to find them. People are so frustrated by arbitrators not following instructions that I can see negative things being said to specific arbitrators and it will just cause bitterness.
    • Agree, 100% and then some, Barb.. Yes, we are all volunteers... but we are not ALL doing the best we can.. Some are just too arrogant to think they need to read any of the instructions or tutorials on how to index, or how to index any particular project...
      To even begin to "do the best we can" we need to read all available instructions first.. before even beginning to Index..
      As far as arbitrators... don't even get me started..
      I have absolutely NO KIND words for arbitrators and their mistakes... How one becomes and arbitrator when they never read instructions as Indexers, and have read no instructions as an Arbitrator, I DO NOT KNOW... well, actually, I do.. They are just willy-nilly given arbitrator rights because they have indexed 2,000 names.. I does not matter if they only have a 70% or lower accuracy rating or not. FamilySearch does not care... they just leave them arbitrate.
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  • 1
    The way I understand "feedback" when reviewing batches is that it does not go back to the original arbitrator, just as a returned index batch doesn't go to the original indexer. If that is the case it would be useless and counterproductive
    to add uncalled for remarks when requesting feedback.
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  • I’m Hopeful
    5
    Yes, please add some way to communicate. I get very frustrated when I see one of my batches returned and there is no way to find out why. If I made that huge of a mistake indexing or arbitrating, I want to know what I did wrong so I can correct it. As an arbitrator, I'd like to be able to at least tell the indexer they either did not follow instructions or they missed an entire page of names so they can learn to look at an image more carefully. As it is now, indexers are left completely in the dark and the best they can do is assume the arbitrator may have returned the wrong key by mistake.

    I also want to be able to communicate back to an arbitrator when I feel they made a mistake. I wish that after arbitration, the indexers could provide feedback, then the arbitrator could take one more look with this new information in hand before the batch is published.
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  • 2
    I think what we're talking about here is more than the "feedback" button or else this whole discussion is moot. I think what people are advocating here is a way for arbitrators to send a message to indexers as to why they "corrected" something. On the flip side, indexers could "feedback" on their returned batches in a My Accuracy, or whatever they want to call it, made for arbitration accuracy with a message as to why they disagree with the arbitrator. No one knows who the particular person is who does what, but negative comments would be made. And even though that arbitrator is the only one to see the comments and no one knows who he/she is, it still would breed bad feelings. Hopefully, people on both sides would learn to follow instructions from it.
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  • I’m excited by the prospect
    2
    I suggested this when we did the survey a while back. i would especially like to be able to see my batches that are returned!
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  • 4
    I only recently learned that this suggestion site was available and definitely feel we need this type option. Like so many others, I too am completely frustrated when I spend hours indexing and following instructions only to have many items incorrectly arbitrated. Then to have to spend as long as 1 1/2 to 2 hours marking items for review is ridiculous because we could spend that time indexing another project, especially if the arbitrator will not even know they made the error.

    I definitely agree that if I make a major error, I want to know about it so I can correct it. I have had batches marked as being returned but have no idea why, especially since I have received very high scores on other batches in the same category. I don't know if I fouled up on a batch or if there was an error or just what happened.

    I personally feel the drop down box would be the best way to do it with options listed and possibly one marked "other" where we could list anything not covered by the basic reasons. A similar drop down box could be used by arbitrators to let the indexers know what they are doing improperly and vice versa.
    In short, both indexers and arbitrators need a way to communicate with each other. We don't need to know who we are communicating with; just a medium by which to do it.

    I also feel support should make sure when they tell something to an indexer that the same information is made available to the arbitrators and vice versa. We are not always operating on the same page. As soon as a decision is made regarding how something should be indexed, it should be updated immediately and made available to all even if it means sending a message on the master page.
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  • 2
    I think feedback to indexers and arbitrators would be a good idea.
    I have had many batches returned where basic instructions, project instructions or project updates were not followed. It is easy on both sides to miss an update so allowing us to explain would help.

    Comments are posted on the FB page but unfortunately both indexers and arbitrators that could be helped don't see them. And yes, there are times where some not quite so nice words are used. I know that I get frustrated when I read and re-read instructions only to have my work changed because the other indexer and arbitrator did not.

    It would also be nice to have a message posted when changes are made. Also to mark those changes in the instructions - either in red, bolded or italics. Something that would catch our attention.
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  • I’m hopeful changes will be made soon
    On the project update pages there is a place to sign up for email notification of updates. I usually sign up for these on projects I frequently index. I also check other projects before submitting a batch.

    A message on the main page when a project is updated might be a helpful reminder. There is already a message box in place there. Maybe we should
    start a new topic thread with this idea.

    Unfortunately, Donna is probably right that the indexers and arbitrators that would most benefit from posted comments probably are not reading them.
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  • 1
    I think there should be some sort of communication with indexers as to why a project was returned. I have had 3 projects returned that I had spent a good deal of time working on. I think indexers should have some say in defending themselves.

    Sandy
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  • I’m frustrated
    1
    I was just frustrated with one because I put the Town and County per instructions but the arbitrator had it only say the town when clearly the county was on there. I sent it back for review but have no way to saying WHY! Also, I might mark something as "Unreadable" and what they put as the value it is clearly not. So I sent it back for review but the reviewers have nothing to compare it to. *sigh*
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  • norman jay law. Ihave read lots of suggestions and they all are good point.
    I don't have any other suggestions, just a question, where does the arbitator find the information that I have search for and cannot find. as has been said, if we indexers had som way to comunicate with an arbitrater, it would be a great help.
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  • Norman, I don't know if this is what you mean, but in the lower right hand corner of the indexing page when (you have a batch open) are the Field Helps. Read those with each field at first. But before starting a batch, go to the Project Instructions tab (in the same window) and read that. In there will be blue links to Basic Indexing Guidelines (which are basic instructions for how to enter data) and Project Updates. Once in Project Update, there's tab Additional Helps, which has more information on indexing your project. At the top of Additional Helps is where you'll find a link to a slide presentation in the form of a blue sentence that reads something like "Click here for presentation..." It sounds complicated, but once you've done it a couple of times, you'll know where to find all the instructions you need. Almost every project has information on thow to index it using these steps.
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  • I’m frustrated
    Yes, arbitrators should read those instructions. Indexers do, and base their page numbers, database record information, name selections, etc. on those instructions. Arbitrators do not. they often make individual pages records. They select names not in the list of names for a given area, They do not use the hand writing tools to more clearly understand names, dates and places. In short they are arbitrary controllers, not arbitrators. If they are not going to do the job right why; do they do it at all. They trash good information and because of their position or title allow trash to sneak into the data base.
    • Blunt but it feels this way a lot of the time! I don't think they mean anything malicious at all. I think there's a case of "I've done 10,000 of these I don't need the instructions"... when they really do. :(
    • I'm an arbitrator and I do read the instructions. I am going to call and ask for someone who can actually implement decisions and policy, because this has been going on for far too long. Since I index and arbitrate, I get the same frustration on my indexing as you all do. As far as accuracy goes, I understand that a simple move on my part as arbitrator could severely reduce the accuracy, but I don't know what triggers that and I'm not told either. If I record match first, I know will help if I had to add or subtract records. But if I go back to a specific field several times for one reason or another, or if I tab through fields to look at data even though they're not part of the arbitration process, does my doing that affect the accuracy score?? I don't know.
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  • I’m confused AND frustrated
    3
    I'll add my vote for this -- in fact, I just entered essentially the same suggestion and then immediately saw this one after submitting ('twas ever thus!). There are times when the arbitrator is clearly in error (assuming a country of birth when there is no such entry on the document), others when the correct answer is debatable and I'd like to offer my side of the story (I've looked in detail at maps to determine the correct spelling/political subdivision/etc of a location). This will also help when there is inconsistency among the arbitrators (I've had "Russian Poland" changed to "Russia Poland," "Russia," and "Poland" by different arbitrators).
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  • 1
    Pretty much agree with everything here. I just put in a suggestion for an explanation field to accompany requests for further review of arbitration results, but up front note fields sound good, too. Particularly for things like corrected location name spellings. I've only been indexing for a few a weeks and just got back a significant amount of arbitration results. Only one batch out of about 40 was totally rejected and it is frustrating to not know why. Time consuming to review the rest. I'm finding about an even 3-way split between the arbitrators picking up typos and oversights on my part, differing opinions of handwriting interpretations (most of which I can see in retrospect), and rules issues. The latter are the ones I tend to submit for further review and would like the opportunity to explain why.
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  • 1
    The first thing to remember is that the look-up list is more of a spell checker that is not complete. It is NOT the list of authorized names of people.. We are to decide what the name is... If the quality check/look-up list matches... fine... If it does not then the name will be highlighted and quality check will basically be stopping at the name and saying, "Hey, you typed this. Is this correct??" If what you typed is correct fine... just accept it.. don't try to correct it to a name on the look-up list.

    Place names is a bit different... in most... but not all... projects we are to correct spelling or abbreviations to the correct place name... "IF" we know the correct spelling.. (we don't have to do major research to determine this)

    The look-up list is FAR FAR from complete on Place names... again.. it is a guide or general spell-checker type dictionary that does not have all possible names..
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  • .... and if we don't know the correct place name... FINE... just type what you see.
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  • 1
    Agree with you regarding peoples names and their spellings. The look-up list just can't cover every possible name and the various spellings.

    As far as the names of towns is concerned, the look up list is far from perfect as well. I have already found errors on the look up list itself and reported it to support. In fact, on one such error, I had to keep re-opening my case with support before they finally understood that I was trying to tell them that their look-up list was wrong! They had Pittsburgh misspelled as Pittsburg and every time I spelled it correctly, the arbitrator was "dinging" me for it. When I told support about it, they would send me a response and tell me that the rules said I could correct the spelling. It took me 3 tries before support finally understood that I was telling them that it was THEIR error and that was why the arbitrator kept dinging me and most likely others that tried to correct the error. Therefore, you can't even trust the look-up list to be correct.

    When they finally understood what I was saying, I was told they would fix it but that they didn't know when it would be done because they were so busy!

    Therefore, we DO have to look up and check the spelling of town names to be sure that we are spelling them correctly, especially if we have the names of towns from other countries where we may not be sure of the spelling. The handwriting may not be clear and again, the look-up lists can only contain the major cities and towns, not all of them.

    This goes for the arbitrators, as well as the indexers, since the arbitrators have the final say in the matter. It does no good if the indexer tries to type the correct spelling of the town regardless of how it appears on the image if the arbitrator isn't willing to spend an extra few minutes and do the same thing. If the image has the name of the town misspelled and the arbitrator only is using the image, then it is a waste of the indexer's time to look up the correct spelling.

    We all have to work together and again, with a drop down note, we can communicate such things when they do occur.
    • As far as spelling the names correctly I totally agree. However, I don't see why why there has been a recent emphasis on spelling of place names because it should barely have any impact on researching. If I enter search terms of first name last name and city name and state, removing or adding an h at the end of a city name shouldn't have ANY impact on the search, and if it does, then something is wrong with the programming. A search is supposed to bring up exact matches AND possible matches for the researcher. This emphasis on place names sounds like me when I lose focus of what's really important and start being the perfection nazi. I think I'll mention that in my phone call as well.
    • An h on the end may not be a problem, but when Minsk is extracted as Nemiek, a program isn't going to figure that out.
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  • 1
    Agreed. It really annoys me when I take the trouble to look up the correct spelling and then the arbitrator flags it anyway. Everyone needs to remember that the clerks recording the information likely did not know all the place names, either; in many cases, neither did the informant (someone who couldn't write his own name probably couldn't spell the name of his hometown, either).
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  • I’m sad and frustrated.
    2
    I agree with you 100%. My question was why did the arbitrator choose a name from the look-up list, which was obviously wrong and reject the name that fit the community, accounted for the language bearer, and would be a real help to future researchers. See my original post. There have been many responses to my original comment on this subject, mostly from aggravated indexers, There does not appear to be any interest from the arbitrators or the "powers that be" to improve this situation. I now know, why I have had trouble in the past using these indexed files to find people. Arbitrators make arbitrary decisions without all of the evidence or facts, which leads to errors in the data bases, which are allowed to stand, simply because of arrogance and unconcern. This would make a great government agency.
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  • I’m frustrated
    1
    I am a fairly new indexer (and considering arbitration also). However, I've already experienced the same problem expressed by the other folks on this topic. I've had a couple of index items changed by an arbitrator that obviously were correct to begin with. One changed a woman's given name from "Iona" to "Lone", when it is quite evident that the original enumerator made their uppercase "L"s very different in the other names beginning with "L".
    I review my work after arbitration (and am learning from my several mistakes), but it is frustrating when I cannot explain reasoning or research, but can only check "review" for items that the arbitrator apparently flagged incorrectly.
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  • I, too, am an indexer and have felt many of the frustrations that all of you are voicing. I'd like to make everything 100% correct all the time. That said, we are enlisting the efforts of many people to help us get these records up and indexed. I'm finding that a little work on my part to understand the goal of the records has helped me a lot. People aren't perfect - the original scribes weren't 100% perfect and neither am I so I try to remember that we are all doing our best. Also, I look at my results now more with an eye as to what else I might have seen from the differences and only get concerned with gross errors (Gender, Age, Location, Role, etc) and not so much with my opinion vs. the arbitrator on names - we will all look at the same thing and come up with different answers in many cases. This is truly a wonderful work enhanced by the many thousands of people who have voluntarily given up their time to help make these records available.
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    • I am both an indexer and arbitrator and I have to say amen to your comments. I'm not sure arrogant is the correct word. It might be a case of people who think they are smarter than the project as much as we are dealing with people who just plod along without learning the project instructions and keeping educated as the instructions change from day to day. I wish there was a way to contact them and work with them, helping them understand the importance of following the rules. Apparently they've never had to research a relative and when they finally find them, realize that it would have been easier if the indexer and/or arbitrator had just followed the instructions.
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  • Actually, Pittsburg is correct.... for the period 1890-1911. So, anyone born or married during that time.. would be Pittsburg (leaving out the Constitutional argument against it being changed to Pittsburg)

    It was kind of unusual for -burg ending names to end with the gh.. So, in 1890 the United States Board on Geographic Names declared that the correct name was Pittsburg.

    They failed to realize that the history of Pittsburgh was Scottish and not German. German would be -burg. But, since it was Scott, it was -burgh.

    Check the 1900 and 1910 Census images for Pittsburg. You might see some Pittsburgh, but they are predominantly Pittsburg.

    Fortunately, after a public campaign, the original name was restored as Pittsburgh in 1911.
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  • The good news regarding errors and corrections is that there is a new version of the Indexing program in the works. And, from what I here we will also be able to make corrections.. whether through the Indexing app or not, I am not sure.
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  • 1
    I agree with most all of Ms. Devey's comments (several entries above). However, there is one aspect on which I emphatically--but respectfully--disagree. In my opinion, the peoples names are one of--if not THE--most important item that we index. They can be the most difficult to read sometimes, no doubt about it. But that is something that I absolutely want to get correct.

    If I were a user searching one of the databases for my great-grandmother, I would certainly hate to miss a significant record--just because an indexer or arbitrator incorrectly indexed her name as "Lone Williams" instead of "Iona Williams".

    Just my two-cents worth (at least as long as they continue making pennies).
    :-)
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  • 1
    I definitely agree with Biscuit Eater that the names of the individuals are probably the most important item of all the items that we index and every effort should be made to be as accurate as possible when we index it. Without the correct name or at least as close as possible to the correct name, anyone searching for a relative would never be able to find them.

    I'm sure anyone who has tried to find their ancestors has found one with an error of some kind or other. I know that my grandmother was turned into a male and her last name was distorted pretty badly and I only found her by accident because she happened to be living with one of our other relatives at the time of the census. At first I wasn't even sure it was her!

    As for the spelling of Pittsburgh, I only used it as an example and the project I referred to was not in the time period you mentioned. It was for Texas Deaths in 1930's so it was definitely when it should have been Pittsburgh. I realize this is not something that would prevent anyone from finding an ancestor but I mentioned it just to show as an example of why we have to check the spelling.

    I do think we have some good arbitrators out there and they are getting a bad rap because of the ones who don't take their job seriously. If you go to the forum and read it, you will find several good ones there who try to help anyone who asks for assistance. They are just as annoyed as we are with the poor arbitrators.

    I think the problem came when support failed to do a more thorough check on the arbitrators. I know they asked me if I would like to be an arbitrator when I had only indexed 1,000 names. I declined because I didn't feel qualified. I have now indexed over 20,000 names and still don't feel qualified because I haven't done enough advanced type projects.
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  • Actually, I don't really have a beef with the arbitrators. I realize that they can make mistakes just like the rest of us. I would just like to be able to add my reasoning for my indexing decision when I ask them to review one of their decisions. If after seeing why I chose a specific letter or name, they still feel that I am wrong, then so be it.
    • "Mistakes" are one thing, but obviously not following written instructions and email follow-up reminders is something completely different. I have been erroneously cited for dozens and dozens of records where arbitrators filled in fields that are clearly meant to be left blank regardless of what the original 1940 enumerators filled in (specifically "Same House" or "Same Place" situations). I could have better used the time it took for me to go through those erroneous "Feedbacks" for things like indexing dozens more records.
    • I agree.
      Perhaps instead of (or in addition to) an indexing "Notes" field, we need an "Appeal to a higher court" button. :-)
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  • 4
    There is a difference between making mistakes, not bothering to read directions, and just plain incompetence.

    There will always be an occasional mistake because of interpretations of letters in a name. Or even from accidently submitting a batch before completion. I have on maybe 2 occasions done this.. KNOW if want to go back an re-look at a name because I am sure it is incorrect, or even realize later while arbitrating the batch that an earlier name or two needs to be corrected.. bu then hitting that last record, quality check starts, and I click through that and submit. Then as soon as I clicked submit, realizing that oops.. I forgot to go back and correct the name.

    But, the fact is that there are arbitrators that have been given arbitrator rights that AT MOST should only be indexing.

    There are some arbitrators that have no clue as to letters of old or poor handwriting... There are arbitrators that either cannot follow Instructions or don't bother reading Instructions.

    There are arbitrators with Indexing Accuracies of 70% and below. That is utter nonsense. No one should be permitted to arbitrate with an Indexing Accurracy of less than 95%..

    But, Familysearch as no requirements to qualify or to maintain Arbitrator status. The only requirement is that an indexer arbitrate 2,000 names.. That requirement should be a minimum of 1,000 batches AND 10,000 names, with an indexing accuracy of 95% and above.
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  • 3
    We've all been exchanging ideas on this for 7 or 8 months now but still no change in sight from support. Our problem really isn't so much with the arbitrators now as with support for failing to take any solid action towards improving conditions. The good arbitrators continue to "take it on the chin" for the actions of those who are not following directions. The ones who are not following directions continue to do so because they still don't realize they are the ones we are talking about. They still make the same mistakes over and over because no one is telling them any different.

    We can mark items for review until the cows come home, but if no one goes back and tells those particular arbitrators that it is their errors, they will continue to do it. While support may not have the time right now to create the extra "button" or whatever so that we can communicate with the arbitrator, then they ought to set up a special group or committee to check the reviews and send a note to the arbitrator in question and NOT release that batch to the public UNTIL it has been rechecked.

    If a particular arbitrator receives too many returns from review (a number to be determined by the review committee), then that arbitrator should have their arbitrator privilege revoked until they can be re-tested and prove their ability to properly arbitrate.

    In short, we can't sit around and wait for support to take action to improve the arbitration method and have the improperly arbitrated documents sent out to the public as is.
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  • Yes,...there are some unqualified arbitrators out there. Since we're all volunteers, Family Search needs to design a qualifying screening or exam (short and brief) that would eliminate the incompetents. Barring that, communication is the name of the game between indexer and arbitrator. So much of record data entry is arguable, due to variable human factors, handwriting, for one.

    The format of the Family Search Indexing framework is absent a necessary and effective vehicle for communicating with arbitrators. That indexers are permitted to express grievances which each other (via this format) rather than with the arbitrater is another example of a very dysfunctional system that creates incredible frustration for indexers, while the arbitrator is not accountable for justifying or defending their reasoning.

    Indexers are volunteers! Anyone who volunteers their dedicated time should have a voice with the powers that be--the arbitrators! Agreed--a dialogue box is critical to that process!
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  • I want to add an AMEN to this discussion. We give feedback to indexers, why not give feedback to arbitrators (I am one), and would love to know how I am doing. I also talk to some very competent people who just began indexing as a result of the 1940's push, but who have really slowed down, and will probably quit in a month or two when 1940 is completed. Why, because they are meticulous in their work, only to see it overturned by an arbitrator. Just having a chance to explain their thinking after the arbitrator has chosen against their interpretation would satisfy them.

    Is there no action on this suggestion because it might take longer to get the indexes loaded, which it would? But what good is an index if it doesn't lead people to the individual they are searching for?
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  • I’m hopeful.
    1
    Wow - great comments from over ten months ago! After arbing over 11,500 1940 Census records - it would have been nice to know the results of indexers REALLY spending the time researching the information and including the source. If the note box was included - the arbitrator could see and compare input from both indexer A and B. This note information should aid the arbitator to making their decision.
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  • I don't know how many of you have now searched for relatives on the 1940 census now that it has been released, but I have. Unfortunately, there are so many that I still can't locate even though I know they are there. This is the first year my own name should have been on a census and I was looking forward to finding it. Luckily, I was only a baby so the rest of my family was indexed correctly or I wouldn't have found myself as my first name was indexed so badly I wouldn't have found it. No reason for it either because it was really clear on the census.

    I searched and searched for some of my relatives and still can't find them. I can't use the 1930 census as a guide to try to find them using the ED method because they weren't at the same address so I'll just have to hope I stumble across them one of these days. How frustrating, especially since I've been indexing for a couple of years and helped index other records and was so looking forward to this census report.

    I do hope that others are more fortunate in their search and that we haven't sacrificed quality because of the push for speed.
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  • I’m frustrated.
    Short and to the point? I haven't had much luck. My grandmother's name is spelled different in almost every census and yet when I look at a copy of the original, I can see it clear but the indexer and arbitrator mangled it. Same goes with an aunt. How on earth can Harkin be typed as Hartman? My mother's last name was mangled as well. This much looked for census has become quite the negative experience.
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  • I’m worried
    A lot of the replies to this topic revolve around indexers sending a message back to reviewsers and arbitrators. This is very important.

    But please do not overlook the importance of being able to send a message _while_indexing_. There have been a few times when I've gone through great effort to figure out what was written, and then had no way to let the arbitrator know. I'm sure some of these were replaced with errors. If I could only let the arbitrator know what I'd found, and why I thought a particular way it would make some fields much more accurate. (Without the unpleasantness of having to tell someone why they messed up, we help them to avoid it in the first place.)
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  • I don't think we should have to explain to the arbitrator why we indexed something the way we did. We follow the instructions, enter what's written, and hopefully the arbitrator will be experienced enough with various types of handwriting that they can decipher what's written also. We shouldn't be going through elaborate thought processes to come up with what we index. We're to type what's written on the document in front of us. Plus, I've seen these "helpful" notes get through arbitration and are in the permanent publication of the record in Family Search. We shouldn't be entering things that don't belong. I've also seen these notes that indexers have left for the arbitrator in batches that I've arbitrated. For those arbitrators who don't read the instructions or use care in transcribing the information, those notes aren't going to matter, anyway. For those of us who do read the instructions and use care in reading and transcribing the document, those notes are irritants and waste time because we have to correct the field that the note is written in. Plus, when someone says they researched and looked on Ancestry or elsewhere to get a name, if that name is spelled differently on the document we're indexing, the other sources mean nothing because we're not to use them if they're different than the document in front of us.
    • "I've seen these "helpful" notes get through arbitration and are in the permanent publication... We shouldn't be entering things that don't belong. I've also seen these notes that indexers have left for the arbitrator in batches that I've arbitrated... those notes are irritants and waste time because we have to correct the field that the note is written in."


      I don't think you understand what some of us are driving at.

      What you've described is absolutely an abuse, and must be discouraged. You're not wrong in this.

      "I don't think we should have to explain to the arbitrator why we indexed something the way we did. We follow the instructions, enter what's written, and hopefully the arbitrator will be experienced enough with various types of handwriting that they can decipher what's written also."


      Here's where I beg to differ. Some arbitrators are not sufficiently experienced. And even when they are, Sometimes they just don't see where we're coming from. If there's a name that is difficult to read, and it has a little squiggly in the middle of it, sometimes you can prove what that letter is by finding several other examples on the same page. It can make all the difference in properly interpreting the rest of the name (especially with locations).

      I'd really like to pass some of this careful pondering on to arbitrators WITHOUT breaking the cardinal rule of putting it in the indexed field. (bad, bad, bad...) Not only will this help the record be more accurate, but it will save arbitrators time and effort.

      This is a good thing. It just needs to be done properly, and today we simply can't.
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  • 1
    I reaffirm the need for such a field.

    Just yesterday, I got a batch that some indexer had said contained no useful information. Indeed, although the image obviously contained a list of names and associated dates, it was not instantly obvious whether it was Births versus Burials. But by carefully reading a note on the record tucked away in a corner of the image that read something like, "This high mortality is due to a putrid disease early this year." "Mortality" made it clear this was a list of burials. I proceeded to index some 80 names accordingly, over two careful hours, and submitted the batch.

    About an hour later, I noticed in my arbitration list, with an annotation that some arbitrator had rejected the whole batch and sent it back for re-indexing. I think the arbitrator realized the supposed ambiguity between births and burials, assumed that I was merely assuming the record referred to burials, and rejected the whole batch.

    Had I been able to point the arbitrator to the source of my decision, a lot of time would have been saved, and valuable data would have been preserved.

    Reference: UK, Essex - Parish Registers 1538-1900 [Part A]
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  • I'd like to add that I think the capability to escalate a disagreement with an arbitrator about a particular field is great, and addresses many of the above concerns. But it does not allow comments where the entire batch is rejected by an arbitrator
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  • 2
    I started this discussion quit a while back. The powers that be have stubbornly refused to seriously consider that they have inaccurate and misleading data in the data base now because they only accept the viewpoint of arbitrators. Arbitrators are arbitrary because they can be. There needs to be a check and balance to ensure accurate indexing. When all is said and done this will be a huge data base, but it will be an inaccurate data base. Those who rely on it will find out too late, just how inaccurate it is. I have stopped using it because I know that it cannot be trusted. I also know that many people are in the data base who will never be found because of an arbitrary decision to misspell the name. I quit indexing after having hard searched and accurate data rejected by people who are unwilling to question their own work.
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