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The concept of an open tree where anyone can contribute and change anything is not good.

The following is a well written and impassioned plea from a patron. It is found in case 00548753 in the Family Search Support group.

It seems to me that Family Search's goal is to give us a tree common to all of us and we are then able to "freely" make changes in that tree. I understand the goal is to share information and in doing so bring about a faster resolution to our temple obligations, but I see this system as chaos.

I do not necessarily want to share my tree. My tree is a work in progress. It is subject to change at anytime as I acquire new information. To allow others to see it and work in it is perhaps to give false information. To go into my tree in Family Search and see what "others" have done to it is disconcerting at the least.

My family research is my obligation, my responsibility, my commitment. It appears to me that the way Family Search works is like having someone walk into your Sunday School class without a by-your-leave and start teaching without being asked to do so.

While not quite offended, I do not appreciate that others have been allowed to submit ordinance work for my immediate family when in all honesty they have no family connection. My family is slowly and surely working their way through those ordinances for these family members. They are not forgotten. They are not left destitute of the gospel.

As far as I know in regards to this we are still entitled to the Lord's inspiration in doing this work. I feel that this has been taken away by the new system. This used to be referred to as having "the Spirit of Elijah". Has he been dismissed from his calling?

I have spent 52 years collecting, compiling, investigating my family tree. I have only been a member of the church for 38. The calling that has compelled me to do this work has been in my life since I was a teenager. I have worked tirelessly at trying to get it "right". Now, it seems it was mostly for naught. Family Search will accept any and all irregardless. Frankly, I do not think this is what the Lord intended.

Surely there is a better way.

Sincerely,
Marsha Nicklaus
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  • I understand the frustration with these issues. However there is one overarching flaw in the thinking here that is very common not only in family history but in the gospel in general and it is the concept of "My Tree". The HF does not see his children this family or that family He sees them as one family. So no matter how we slice it this tree is not a my tree it is "our" tree. We are immediately directed to our place in the tree when we log in but there is but only one tree. The ancestors we carefully research are not ours alone and while in some cases we may be the only direct living descendant these people are still "family" to many others however distant they may be.

    The goal is not only to simply process ordinance work for those without it but it is to bind the family of man together. For us to connect and develop bonds both forwards and back so that we truly do become one family. We need to learn Christlike patience with those who may interact with our connections to family lines we must learn to work together or we run the risk of being isolated from our fellow brothers and sisters.

    Please do not let the fear of "losing" your valuable research prevent you from engaging in the true spirit of Elijah and truly binding together the family of man into one unbroken chain. The current tools do a fantastic job of creating a change history and allow for recovery of any changed data. (Sometimes a bit more work than we might like but it is possible) and in addition we can always store copies of our work in local databases.

    The tools will get better a recognizing inappropriate changes as time goes by but the opportunities for increasing the work far out weigh any of the potential threats you might see. The adversary would have us fear and hold tight to the traditions of our fathers much like the Jews. We must put our trust in the Lord and have faith that even if we should encounter trials with other users that the direction offers much more opportunity to develop lasting familial bonds with our relatives yet unknown than working in isolation has these many past decades.

    The future is working collectively together and learning to resolve our differences and learning from each other. There are very few that come here to truly destroy and those can be identified and dealt with. Please look for the positive things that can come from being able to collaborate like never before rather than the fear that something may be lost.
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  • In the 52 years you have spent in the admirable task of researching your family tree, you have undoubtedly acquired quite a collection of source materials documenting the accuracy of your conclusions.

    Family Tree presents a wonderful opportunity for you to share those sources. By posting your sources with accurate source citations you help prevent chaos. You help other users see that the information you posted is accurate.

    I have found that with well-documented and sourced ancestor, most users will not make changes to conclusions lightly. Most are very cautious when they see many good sources on a person page.

    Whenever I have researched an ancestor and posted sources on Family Tree, I also place that ancestor on my watch list. Whenever a change is made to the ancestor, I take a look at the change. If the change was made without a reason and without the posting of any new sources, then I immediately reverse the change and restore my prior conclusion. However, if the user posts a reason, and especially if they post new sources, then I examine the reason and sources carefully and re-evaluate my conclusion in light of the new information to determine whether the change is appropriate.

    I believe that over time the quality of information in FT will become increasingly more accurate and well-documented through this process.

    At present we are in a re-education phase of the transition. Users of NFS were too used to just putting in their own conclusions and not posting sources. Over time, the community will hopefully adapt to a new paradigm in which the sources drive the conclusions.

    It will take all of us working together re-educate the users and lead by example, but as everyone begins to understand the concept of the open tree experience, collaboration-enhanced family history will greatly improve both the accuracy of our trees as well as the volume of information and sources we can collectively find and share. Duplication of research will be reduced as will duplication of temple work.
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  • Ron Tanner (FamilySearch.org Product Manager) July 11, 2014 14:34
    At the very least, if you still want to proceed cautiously into Family Tree, can I recommend that you get a free affiliate product. There are several that allow you to share the information and sources in your private copy with Family Tree and, if you so desire, bring information from Family Tree into your copy. This way you can feel your good work is safe and yet can contribute to the whole. You can find affiliate products on https://familysearch.org/products
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  • Christopher Allen Young said:
    The current tools do a fantastic job of creating a change history and allow for recovery of any changed data. (Sometimes a bit more work than we might like but it is possible) and in addition we can always store copies of our work in local databases.

    Recently FamilySearch dumped into FamilyTree "Notes" (usually with Legacy as part of the source name.) Unfortunately the changes this dump made to Family Trees does not allow us to recover the changed data they created--after trying to recover her HARVIE line we discovered we could not because it was part of the Notes Dump by FamilySearch & it overrode all her hard work--yet does not allow us to reverse it & go back to the way she had it. Here is her email to me:

    "Cherie,
    I have a "rant"....I spent three weeks straightening out a mess on my HARVIE line. I had 12 sources on my 6th ggf not to mention I am from Richmond; I have had access to primary sources; I lived at the Virginia Historical society and my grandparents are buried in the HARVIE plot so just now, I wnt in and some random woman has "merged" all my good research away. she has changed the name of my 6th GGM when IF she had bothered to "READ" the sources, she could have known that her name was clearly "Margaret" in her husband's will and in his Bible hand written records.
    UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
    I don't even have the energy to e-mail her because her blunder has messed up so MUCH good and documented information!
    I am about ready to do my own research; make sure it is as accurate as it can be and wait for the Millennium to straighten out Family Search.
    :O)
    thanks for listening to my rant.
    I have gotten Isaac WINSTON as correct as I can.... the Isaac of the 1760 Will but someone will probably mess him up again too.
    what is SO SAD is that if amateurs would just READ the sources......
    I just got the HARVIE line all correct last month. thank GOODNESS I hard copied it but I don't really feel like tying it all again."

    Even though FamilySearch also recently deleted my gmother's grandmother's ggrandfather--Frederick Mayberry (the last we have on the line after 5 generations of research and a 5 month trip to Bedford Co.,VA & the State Archives in Richmond three years ago). I really am NOT asking you to change Tree--just give me some way to help this dear Sister.
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  • Do you have a PID for the Person? Also the changehistory should show what changes were made and possibliy do a Restore, or UnMerge. This Sources aren't lost, they are likely still attached to the Person.
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  • This reply was removed on 2014-07-17.
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  • 1
    I agree with "John D over 5 years ago - The concept of an open tree where anyone can contribute and change anything is not good."

    I think it is great to have information from others available to accept or reject - I do not want it placed in my records without my approval. They may feel their information is good, but I have a thing for wanting to know that it is right. Something similar to the "leaf" on Ancestry.com would be helpful in these situations - show that someone has information on your ancestor and then you can verify it yourself before placing on your tree.

    This issue is the main reason that "Family Search" is not my go-to site for my family tree.
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  • 1
    Lorrie

    Firstly, "Welcome" to this "FamilySearch" ( "GetStaisfaction" ) 'Feedback' Forum.

    Secondly, "Official 'FamilySearch' Representatives", do monitor; and, sometimes, participate in, this Forum.

    Thirdly, I am just another User/Patron, just like yourself (and, happen to be a Member of the Church).

    Many Users/Patrons who regularly participate in this Forum who have a great deal of knowledge and experience with "FamilySearch", like to assist/help other Users/Patrons like yourself.

    Finally, this post (as you are well aware) is over 5 Years old.

    The concept of this "One" World 'Tree" of "Family Tree" (previously, "New.FamilySearch") in "FamilySearch", with the "Open Edit" Platform, has been going on strong (like anything, with its 'ups' and 'downs') now for well, before; and, beyond, those 5 Years.

    "FamilySearch" is a FREE 'Web' Site by "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints".

    There are many other commercial 'Web' Sites along a similar vein; but, they are NOT Free.

    And, although I personally do know of any, there may the other non-commercial 'Web' Sites along a similar vein, that may also be Free.

    Many of these other 'Web' Sites have provision for "Private" personal "Trees".

    And, there are many computer programmes available to keep "Private" personal "Trees" on one's own private computer.

    The concept of this "One" World 'Tree" of "Family Tree", with the "Open Edit" Platform, is not always understood by 'newcomers'; and, that fact is acknowledged; and, definitely something that needs addressing.

    In the concept of this "One" World 'Tree" of "Family Tree", with the "Open Edit" Platform, there is NO, "My" Tree; or, "Your" Tree, it is "Our" Tree, for every one - this is not always something appreciated by all.

    Even if a (Registered) User/Patron does not want to participate in (or share their records/research) with "Family Tree", there is no problems/issues with those (Registered) Users/Patrons using the many other Features of "FamilySearch".

    Many in this Forum, both, Members of the Church and non-members, understand and agree with you. Many in this Forum, both, Members of the Church and non-members, have their own "Private" personal "Trees" on other 'Web' Sites.

    There is no compulsion, to use; or, not to use, the "Family Tree" of "FamilySearch", that is up to the individual.

    Hopefully, one of the bonuses of "One" World 'Tree" of "Family Tree", with the "Open Edit" Platform, is "Collaboration"; whereas, unfortunately, conversely, there can and is sometimes a down side to collaboration.

    Unlike you, "Family Tree" (previously, "New.FamilySearch") in "FamilySearch" is my go-to site, in fact, is 'really' my only site, I am not interested in those sites.

    But, that is just me, each to their own.

    I hope that you still use the many other Features of "FamilySearch", apart from "Family Tree".

    'Good Luck' in your "Genealogy" / "Family History" research and endeavors.

    Brett
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  • Here's a history one can read.
    One must ask:
    1. Monopoly over access thru subscription vs. An interactive freely available to information & collaboration.
    2. Through the later of #1 one can see extension of lineages that one may not be aware of through a subscription entity.
    This is only a part of the industry. Read for yourselves and make your own judgement.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancestr...
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  • As Ben hinted at, it really all depends on what the intents and goals here are about. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not providing a free public service just to be nice to everyone and a gesture of good will. It exists for a very specific purpose. You have to understand a bit of their goals for the FamilyTree in order to really understand that what you are asking for makes absolutely no sense at all!

    Years ago the church would receive and record all sorts of genealogical information from many sources including the church's membership. The church recorded all these records as they were being used for performing temple ordinances.

    However, they had a BIG problem. Hundreds and thousands of names were repeatedly having the same work done by different people. One person didn't know what another was doing. So the church set about to create a system where this could be controlled. The current "single shared tree" model is the best iteration yet toward this goal.

    If I go back 7 or 8 generations on only ONE of my lines, and then for only one or two of those ancestors, turn around and follow all generations back to present, I discover that there is currently almost 10,000 descendants (yes they all had big families in southern Ohio :-) That means that just those 2 ancestors of mine have many thousands of descendants currently alive. Now if consider if I were to go back 7 or 8 generations on ALL of my lines, and then come forward to determine all of the currently alive descendants of ALL those ancestors. The numbers are HUGE.

    Now, any one of those cousins or ancestors of mine will ALSO be ancestors or cousins of hundreds or thousands of other currently living people. If FS used a tree model like other sites such as Ancestry, every currently living person would have to have their own separate records for each of those ancestors and cousins. When you begin to consider all of the trees containing what should be identical records for any given person, you can see that the duplication would be MASSIVE! Far worse than the church even had when it started this process to eliminate all of the errors they were having DUE TO DUPLICATION.

    Also, when you consider the thousands of different "versions" of a single person's record that would exist in such a database, How in the world are you supposed to pick which one is "correct" to use for tracking temple ordinances? Now you have to have an additional record apart from all those thousands of duplicates in order to have a single unique record for the ordinances.

    So, having a database like Ancestry where everybody gets their own private little sandbox to play in where nobody else can contribute:

    1. Creates MASSIVE duplication problems (much worse than the church started with)
    2. Uses MUCH more expensive database space (i.e., ONE tree as opposed to thousands of similar ones)
    3. Isolates users from each other so that accurate records cannot be produced any where near as fast. It Kills collaboration needed for accuracy.

    So the bottom line is, given what the church is trying to achieve, why in the world would they want anything other than a shared tree?

    Having a shared tree where anyone can contribute and anyone modify things is EXCELLENT for achieving the church's goals.

    (Which is to produce a tree as quickly as possible with a higher accuracy than any single individual could create on their own, and with no duplication in it)
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  • 1
    Oh my - I meant no offense to anyone.

    I don't care if others can see my information - I just don't want someone else to add information to my area without an option for me to accept or reject it. I have taken time to follow some of the lines attached to my tree from others [without any choice on my part] and found errors, such as children who are older than their parents. I would like my "private little sandbox" [using Brother Wiseman's term] to stay clean by my standards of proof.

    To me the ideal would be to let me have my own "private little sandbox" that has only the information I put on the site and then have another giant "beach area" of everyone's individual "sandboxes" combined as in the current "single shared tree". The "beach area" would maintain the consistency in temple ordinance work, everyone's information would be shared, and if I wanted to add someone's information to my "sandbox" I could copy and paste it there.

    So - I will maintain my "sandbox" with a cover over it elsewhere to maintain my standard of proof without the issues of neighborhood children playing in it and adding elements I don't desire in my "sand".
    • I don't think anyone was offended, at least that is my view on it. Your request is one that has been very common here. The point I had was that because it runs contrary to what I think the church is trying to achieve, it is unlikely to gain any ground with FS. But they do watch this forum and we are told that all messages are at least read, so you never know.

      But your choices with the FamilyTree for better personal control over the shared records that you have worked on really don't exist beyond just documenting things well enough that others won't see a need to change things.

      Personally, I keep all my records in Ancestral Quest and linked to the same persons in the Family Tree. Nobody can touch my records in AQ and I can always do an easy comparison of the FSFT data with my own at any time. I can also set watches on those records in FS so that I get an alert when something changes there and I can then go and compare data to see what was changed and why. If the changes in FS do not make sense to me and are not sourced/documented properly, I can replace them with my AQ data.
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  • This reply was removed on 2019-03-25.
    see the change log
  • There are other things you can do (besides adding sources which—of course—is high priority) to help remind “others” that someone cares about your particular family members and they do help—but nothing is fool proof.

    #1- Always add a picture—of them or if before photography—add a pic of their signature or gravestone or if nothing else find a uncopyrighted pic of the place they lived.

    #2- When I have a common named individual I add this to their life sketch:

    Do NOT combine!!!! There are very very many men named William Williams. They are all unique individuals. If familysearch is asking you if they are a match please mark it as “Not a match”. If the dates and place are not exactly the same they should not be combined—put the places in Google Maps so you will know. If there is no identifying info check for a child attached. If the child is less than 110 years old the child will not show until he is 110 yrs old. Please do NOT combine!!!

    (Excuse the caps and exclamation marks—but they are needed.)

    Or if I am working in an area with patronymics (in my case Wales) I add this to their Life Sketch:

    Patronymics of Wales, ONLY GIVEN NAMES, Do Not Combine with anyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    #3- Always fill in “Why this information is correct” Under each Vital Fact. I put
    Date:
    Place:
    if the information came from two different places.

    #4- And make sure you put a watch on each individual & familysearch will send you an email telling you what changes have occurred.

    Like I said, nothing is foolproof—but doing these things will slow down changes significantly.
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  • I’m unsure
    I am amazed that something I commented on 5 years ago is still a topic of conversation. My view seems to have changed over time. I frequently add information to existing sites. e.g. I have thousands of photographs of gravestones. I regularly enter them into family search. Frequently I find the names are already there but I have additional information, perhaps a different spelling or dates as described on the stones. Sometimes additional relationships are added. Occasionally, some interesting historical fact is on the stone. Often the only addition is the photograph and time and place it was taken. Hopefully these additions are helpful and not hurtful.
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  • They are very helpful John D, and I totally get the frustration of a shared tree, nonetheless, all my days and all my hours goes into improving this one. I still get frustrated when a 4th cousin enters a whole lot of secondary compiled sources and changes information I have documented by a digitized image of a 200 year old original document (added to his memories) but, what the hey, it is their ancestor also and their mother put the first ad looking for another ancestor in the Genealogy Helper the year I was born—so I try to be kind...
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  • On another line of mine their is a a genealogy tsar who continues to delete relationships she doesn’t agree with—but I added the father’s PID to a discussion so I can go back and restore the relationship (even if it only stays there for less than 24 hours) awhile back. And yes, I know I can report her, but since it is a common name and their are lots of others who continually add garbage to “our” tree that she also deletes I am glad she is there, doing her bit, to keep our line unpolluted...(did I just say that?—I did)
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  • "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"
    (Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr in the January 1849 issue of his journal Les Guêpes, Literally “The more it changes, the more it’s the same thing.”)

    Or in the words of Solomon: "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun."
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  • I couldn't agree more Marsha. There are many bullies and people changing other peoples hard work on this site and it never seems to stop. Might be why 1000's of genealogists won't add their information. A good friend and co-genealogist just stopped using FSFT because of some abuser changing everything he put up. When he emailed support@Familysearch.org they gave absolutely nothing as a reason for the changes and allowed the culprit to continue doing so. Some users on this site change info just to see their names. Another thing with FSFT that could be easily remedied by giving members NUMBERS instead of USERNAMES. In FSFT you can add a name but not delete one, you cannot save a page to you computer and a few other things that as a user you should be able to do. All in all FS is a great site but the tree and rules made by the people who run it need to change.
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    • Oh I certainly don't have such an attitude. The thrust of my post is that without specific examples we can't judge whether the charges are true or whether the other user is simply, systematically removing junk entered by the "good friend and co-genealogist". Without examples of edits we can't judge whether a user is actually as a competent as they think they are.

      I have gone as far as to detail a sanctions workflow for both vandals and users who are too stupid to actually do proper edits. Ultimately such people should permanently lose their editing privileges if they keep vandalising/making useless edits. If they are LDS they should also be permanently banned from completing temple work as well on the grounds that if they cannot be trusted to use the FSFT to do genealogical work they cannot be trusted to do proper ordinance work either.

      As for the mass vandalism incident at some point, I wholeheartedly agree. Probably the worst that someone could do is to create a massive number of Holocaust victim profiles, submit them for ordinances and then mass merge a whole bunch of other profiles, oh and repeatedly upload huge GEDCOMs.
    • Very well said Paul Wrightson and much closer to the truth than most of these comments.
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  • 1
    Another approach to minimizing unwanted changes is to put together a PDF of your findings and conclusions along with your sources and then upload it to memories, where it can not be changed. Then anyone else can determine for themselves what information is correct. I don't know how many characters a discussion will allow, but that is another approach to getting unchangeable information into a person's record.
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