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PALs that aren't PALs for long? A problem with some links in Massachusetts Land Records

Since sometime last summer, I have been corresponding with folks about various some records from the unindexed collection, "Massachusetts Land Records .."

Some of the PAL links that were developed for those communications (and posted also to FamilyTree) now don't seem to be working.

For example, a link that was:
https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1...

... seems to now be:
https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1...

Gulp. Doubt I would ever be able to locate all the places I've used links to unindexed collections. Even more doubtful I would look them up again to make corrections.

I so hope to learn this is an anomaly. Gulp, gulp.
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  • 1
    Hi Gene, Did this change take place automatically without you doing anything? If so, don't worry. They'll stand behind the links. And it looks like the links are identical. Weird.

    Why do I say that? Because FamilySearch has guaranteed that their URL addresses will persist, even if technology changes. And unlike other sites that have their records on the internet with URL addresses.

    If this is no longer the case, I hope we hear from FS soon. What say you, FS?
    • HI Cathy,

      Thank you for your comment.

      This did happen without my intervention. The first part of the examples/links appear the same. Shall we say it is a back end problem?

      The old or broken link ended: =M9QJ-NDD:n306540615
      The new or working link ends: =MCBG-FW5:361613201,361916501

      I have not attempted to reconcile either of the two problem links--they appear in many, many FamilyTree reasoning statements, etc.

      Likely a bit of luck and grace that caused me to test the links copied from the FamilyTree sources and reasoning statements today.

      Thankful. The e-mail for which the links are intended is headed to very young collaborator who has not worked with deeds before.

      Like you, hope we hear more soon.--GeneJ
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  • 1
    I noticed today that one of my sources to browse links in the Swiss Church records was broken in the same way Gene described. I am wonder what is going on. Is it something temporary or do we have the first violation of the rule that the links will never change.
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  • This is not the only site aberration in recent days. See James Tanner's blog:

    http://genealogysstar.blogspot.com/20...
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  • If you read James Tanner's whole blog you see that he discovers his terrible errors as to what was really going on. He just lost all credibility with me.
    • If one reads the blog and comments, it is evident that there was lack of explanation by FS as to what was going on. While corrections were made regarding source items for one person, it is not clear what was happening system-wide. There is a problem with how n.FS and FS-FT programs each (differently) handle certain types of source-citations. A FS-Blog article on this issue would be helpful.
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  • I’m quite discouraged and upset
    1
    I am surprised we have not heard from someone in the department regarding this issue. Here are some more that do not work for me. This has nothing to do with the legacy sources that the blogs are talking about. These are sources I linked from images.

    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1... -- linked to KWZQ-8SB

    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1... - marriage record linked to KWJJ-QG6 and KWJJ-QGX

    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1... - linked to LCFM-WFB

    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1... --- marriage record linked to LCFM-WFB and LCFM-WNP

    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1... --- linked to LCFM-WFB

    I am sure if this is not enought examples to determine what is causing the issue, I can quickly find some additional examples.

    Some time and effort were undertaken to link these records - I believe these records were linked in March of 2012 when the source feature was initially introduced to Family Tree - it was stated at the time "Do not worry about linking FamilySearch records - the web address will never change" - Guess what it appears someone has made a change without informing the users.

    My simple question is the department going to fix all of these links, that now do not work, as they originally promised, or am I going to have to go and relocate the images and revise the URL link in the source.

    Please lets hear from someone who knows something. I am in total agreement with Gene - this is very discouraging.
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  • 1
    If there is one thing that continues to be clear it is that FamilySearch is just down-right terrible on Messaging and Communicating with its users.

    While they have improved over the years with sites like this one, Blogs and Yammer, there just must be a better way of getting information out to all users that it applies to. But then, who know how to get to this site, or get invited on to Yammer, or how to sign up to see Blogs? So the problem enfolds in on itself!

    As a teacher of FamilyTree and new FamilySearch since the beginning, I was able to get in on advance notices for things coming up, changes, problems, etc. so that we wouldn't be caught flat-footed in classes when something didn't work.

    While that kind of communication may not be possible with all users, if there is going to be a very big addition (like Legacy sources or FamilySearch moving large amounts of data from nFS and listing themselves as the contributor) or if Server errors are taking place and the site will be non-functioning, etc. - There should a person or group that has the responsibility of communication to all users as soon as possible.

    And while Family Tree is still almost a beta site due to the advances and changes added almost weekly, FamilySearch cannot continue to rely on the endurance and good wishes of its highly loyal users. More care needs to be taken here.

    User frustration, as you can see displayed at this site every day, hopefully would be lessened. When you start to see user frustrations appearing on other family history blogs, deterring folks from using Family Tree, - that is a major problem
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  • 1
    Gasmodels,

    Am I correct in thinking that the problem is only applying to unindexed records?

    Also, an observation in looking at the Teuscher, Heinrich (Henry)-christening, infant baptism record that has the broken link (on record KWZQ-8SB).

    The record is showing up in the system at this website: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1...

    But the FamilyTree link gives this website: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1...

    The two websites are exactly the same at the beginning until after the "equal signs".

    This is definitely something the programmers need to address.
    • yes these are un-indexed images - some call them browse collections. In particluar they come from the the Switzerland, Church Records, 1277-1992 - I think the situation is very similar to what records Gene has with the Massachusetts Land Records. One can still find the original images but the details in the link are slightly different. something changed in the way the records are found.

      that is the issue. Seems to me FamilySearch should make the adjustments since they promised the links were permanent. The records have not disappeared it is just a different link.
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  • 1
    Two more PALs that are not PALs at this time.

    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1...

    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1...

    I'm only discovering the faulty links when I visit a previously recorded source or reference in order to use it again!

    P.S. I'm aware that some think folks who comb through unindexed records just don't have anything better to do with their time. They are wrong.
    • ". . . some think folks who comb through unindexed records just don't have anything better to do with their time."

      There is also the issue of unindexed records that record multiple types of relationships. These are never going to be every-name indexed and the relationships that don't fit into standard-nuclear-family (say, Godparent; Guardian; nephew) are not going to be indexed.

      The beta attach-source widget that now allows attachment to household members for certain Census records will not be adapted to these innumerable baptismal and estate records that are so valuable for genealogical work on pre-1880 and non-US families. They don't fit neatly into the limited lineage-linked conception of FS-FT and single-source-proof scheme.
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  • As I recall the statement about links in sources being preserved, it was not that PALs would never change, but that sources in Family Tree with internal Family Tree links, i.e. system sources, would be updated as needed to preserve the link to the source.

    Back when attaching system sources was just rolled out and you could not modify either the title or the URL, there was a lot of debate on this board about the proper way to attach them, in particular the non-indexed records whose titles were not very descriptive. Some people advocated making a copy of the source then giving it a proper title, maintaining that the URL was all that was needed for future updating. Others noticed that when you copied the source, the icon to the left changed and it no longer looked like a system source and were concerned that that meant that the URL could no longer be updated by Family Search.

    I also seem to recall that there was a time when non-indexed images could not be attached via clicking “add to my source box,” but had to have a source created just like any other external link.

    To get to the point, do your sources in Family Tree whose PAL’s no longer work have the tree icon next to them or the globe icon next to them? If they have the globe icon, I suspect that that is the problem. The globe icon would mean that they are not system sources anymore, or never were, and can't get updated.

    If they have the tree icon, meaning they are system sources, then there must be a problem with the routine that updates the Family Tree sources. If so, I hope someone will post a comment that the engineers are aware of this and working on it.
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    • I was mainly trying to recall what the original statement regarding PAL links was - whether it was that they would truly never change or that if they had to be changed, that Family Tree system source (tree icon) links would be updated. With your reply that the links you are having problems with are not in Family Tree marked with the tree icon, I fear it was only the latter, which, I agree, is not very persistent.
    • Hopefully we'll hear something about this soon from those in the know.

      I have included references to items in unindexed collections in a multitude of reasoning statements, hundreds of discussions/notes. I won't even take a gander at the emails and research reports.

      If the links are going to change without automatically being forwarded to the new addy, we all need to know. Likewise, if this is just a hiccup while we wait for the forwarding to kick in, please let us know.

      Today, I don't know what to use; I don't know what to think.
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  • This looks like a bug. I will get some engineers working on it.

    The organization is committed to making sure its long-lived URLs do work indefinitely. FYI, in the coming months, FamilySearch is going to transition from using "pals" (its own invention) to using "arks" (an industry standard), and then hopefully stick with arks forever. But FamilySearch will still support all of the pals forever (i.e., by mapping them to corresponding arks).

    FamilySearch just switched to a new system to hold its records, and apparently there is a bug with how it handles the image pals, so we'll get that fixed.

    Just so you know, the long-lived part of the 'pal' does not include the "?" and everything after that--those are to make sure you're in the right "context" (bread crumbs at the top, etc.). But if that context ever stops working, you're supposed to at least get to the right image.

    In this case, if you take one of the above URLs, like
    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1...
    (i.e., ...pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-36329-9396-18?cc=2106411&wc=M9QJ-N2G:n1107307132)

    and remove the "?cc=..." off of the end, you end up with the raw pal:

    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1...

    (i.e., ...pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-36329-9396-18)

    which actually still works.

    Now, don't go strip all the stuff off the end of your URLs. It is supposed to work with that still on there. I'll see how quickly we can get this fixed.

    --Randy Wilson, FamilySearch Information Architect
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  • It turns out the issue was identified and fixed last Friday, and will be delivered in the next release in a week or two. So hang tight.
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  • I’m sad
    1
    I've noticed over the past few days that links to documents I had no longer work. As an example, this is a link to what used to be Rowan Co., NC Will Book G, page 368.
    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1...

    that no longer works.

    When I locate this page now, the link is:
    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1...

    My question is, will the old link be fixed in the next couple weeks (as I read it will if I understand above correctly), or do I need to change to the new one, and if so, will it be permanent, which is what my understanding (?if correct?) they were supposed to be?

    While this does apply to FamilyTree (where I have been adding documents with links under sources), it also applies to my personal web pages, as an example one page:
    http://home.netcom.com/~fzsaund/smoot...
    The above example is under source #44 on the page. If you click on any of the links to a FamilySearch source on this page (over 30) almost all of them return as an error.

    I have 100s of webpages, and many of those contain direct links to wills, estate records, marriage records, etc. on FamilySearch, meaning 100s (if not over 1000) links overall on my personal pages. The reason I did that in changing from just citations to microfilms that they used to be (before the images were on FS) was that people researching my same families could have links to the actual records, and if I needed to check/verify something, the page was right there without going to the microfilm. Many of these personal pages have been up for 15 years, and I know a lot of people use them. I would hate to think I have put up these 100s of links on my personal pages thinking they were permanent, only to find they aren't.
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  • Don't change your URLs until the fix is in place. The FamilySearch image URLs should work after that.
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  • 1
    Whew! Sigh! Relief! Now we can start sleeping at night again.

    My faith is renewed just to have Randy respond with such genuine candor, and treating us like big people. That shows respect for your users who could almost be classified as worshipers.

    The anxiety we faced thinking our sources were corrupted brought me to a stark perspective about how I feel : There is nothing as important as sources. Almost like scriptures.

    It makes me realize how much we owe to R. Keherer and source group for making it so easy to attach sources. And how much we owe to the whole digital pipeline/indexing group, and all those indexers, who make the sources available in a digital format. And how much we owe to the sponsoring corporation of FamilySearch for funding this whole process, so we can do all this at home in our P.J.s

    This truly is amazing. This whole thing! Families really are the most important things in our lives, and that's why we do this, why we care so much about people we don't even know, but know we are linked to by way of DNA.

    Now that being said .... if this bug really doesn't get fixed, you guys better take cover! :-)
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  • Love the passion in your response, Cathy! I support all you have just stated.
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  • EMPLOYEE
    I’m happy
    1
    Looks like this is fixed now. Please verify and reply if there's still a problem. As an example:

    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1...

    (i.e., ...pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-36329-9396-18?cc=2106411&wc=M9QJ-N2G:n1107307132)

    now works fine.
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  • I’m frustrated
    Sigh, I can't find mine...

    I copied and pasted this URL, together with a reminder that it was image 85, but I can't find it at all now...

    https://www.familysearch.org/search/i...

    Anyone know how to find what it used to refer to?
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  • Search URLs are not designed to be long-lasting. In the future, if you see records you want to save a link to, "go to it" via the "Details" or "Image" icon in the right-most columns of the search results. Those results will have an "ark:" in the URL, indicating that they are long-lived URLs that are supposed to last.
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  • I've learned my lesson, but is there any extractable data from the URL?
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  • There was an article, I think published somewhere, that unless this is a URL within FamilySearch (have the ARK involved), it is best to describe where or how you found the record.

    Something like: ancestry.com,
    Title - Family History: Genealogy of the Wamsleys of Wamsleyville, Ohio (chart)

    Repository Information

    Name - Adams Co., Ohio, Historical Society
    Address - West Union, Ohio

    Now in this case, ancestry.com does not have the chart (that I know of), but where it is found was listed in the ancestry.com source.

    The idea is to present enough information in the source that the URL to the ancestry.com site isn't needed (not that it would help, anyway).
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  • 1
    URL's are great when they work, but I would rather have a citation that identifies where the original, manuscript record was last known to reside, such as the Adams Co., Ohio Historical Society, West Union, Ohio, AND the catalogue number or other identifying information assigned by that repository. I think a citation of this type is the best possible way to communicate with historians, archivists, librarians, and genealogists throughout the world. They will all know how to deal with repository and catalogue information, even if they do not happen to use FamilySearch, Ancestry.com, etc.
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  • Yes, even when you have an Ark, it is good to have a textual citation, for a couple of reasons: 1) In case the online resource ever becomes unavailable (like when an archive asks us to take a collection down), allowing you a better shot at finding the original physical record; and 2) So you can see at a glance at your citation what kind of record this is, allowing you to estimate how much to trust different parts of the information.
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