Saturday, January 28, 2012

FamilySearch: Questions from Myrt

DearREADERS,
Like Randy Seaver on Genea-Musings, Ol' Myrt here has been formulating her questions for FamilySearch. I'll be interviewing several top employees in the video booth during RootsTech 2012 and would like to include some of my DearREADERS questions. Here's what I have so far:

1. On your home page, can you promote "browsing" over "searching" at http://www.familysearch.org/, There are a greater number of images that are not indexed than those indexed. A search for an ancestor by name won't return hits in those unindexed record groups and may lead people to believe you don't have relevant records.

2. Can you distinguish between "hard" source citations, and the link to citations in the FamilySearch Wiki? I simply don't like citations about the source of a record group being determined by those other than the FamilySearch team that pushed the record group through the pipeline. It is true that a link to the wiki is valuable so that users can provide additional information -- like "this set of scanned images is a lot clearer than those located at the " or "The two missing images from this collection are available at ..."  There should be a difference between well-crafted citations from FamilySearch and ancillary info provided by end users.

Ancillary "Providing necessary support to the primary activities or operation of an organization, institution, industry, or system."

3. THANK-YOU for adding the "Batch Number" search. In English parish record research, it is imperative to sort for others in the same IGI batch. Why? In a given locality there may be more than one church parish record group. However, typically a batch is for a single church. This is helpful for finding others by a common surname in the region but only in that same church.

What questions would you have Ol' Myrt ask of FamilySearch?

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.

14 comments:

  1. Myrt,
    I would like a clearer message on extracted records when there is no image available.... now that's all it says, and a "newbie" might think that means that's all there is and use that as the source ---- not good, since the extractions are not always perfect. I would prefer a message that says "order the film" or (better yet) "order film # to see this original record."

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  2. I'd also like to an IGI sort to EXCLUDE patron entries, and INCLUDE only extracted entries since the latter went through the double, blind a data entry method. Patron entries just aren't that reliable.

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  3. I still find the "new" Family Search very confusing to use. I think the problem might be that you get too many "hits" that aren't valid. Unfortunately this has made me avoid using the site.

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    1. Most of my work on FamilySearch in the "Records" collection is done via browsing. It is a lot of fun compared to viewing a roll of microfilm.

      M :)

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  4. Will the ability to upload images eventually be added to the Family Tree? Several bloggers, Riverton conference attendees, family history center directors, and missionaries have said yes. Based on the avatars for Family Tree, I believe the rumor. Then my real question is, why do some FamilySearch employees insist that such a feature is not planned? I'm purposely not naming names, but I have talked with said people.

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  5. Why have a lot of images disappeared from the family search website? Is it because of contracts with pay per view sites that they can no longer show the images? Can you help? Thanks.
    Trisha

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    1. Trish, I think a lot of images have MOVED, because of the change over from the beta view of the images. Is that what you are thinking of?

      The ability to place images on the web were negotiated long before. I doubt the agreements were changed after the digitization process began.

      Let me know about a specific record group of images, and I'll inquire for you!
      M :)

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  6. It seems like the focus is getting records previously available on microfilm on to the website. How many people are still out gathering new information from records around the world? Are the additions concentrating from certain areas? Will we see more records from areas that were previously not available - I'm thinking of those from previously Communist areas. How fast do these new records appear at the website after they are recorded/filmed? It would be intersting to me to hear how the researchers actually gather the new records - is it a mission project from American citizens or do they hire people from the area to film/copy the vital records from churchs and government agencies. Since they no longer are using microfilm (probably) are they using cameras and flash drives to gather the info?

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    1. DearANON,
      After RootsTech 2011, and several times a month thereafter, I reported on new digitization efforts. Virtually all new work is done with digital cameras. I believe all the crews are LDS missionary couples, but I'll check on that. To my knowledge FamilySearch may purchase microfilm from an archive or church if the filming has already been done. They have purchased NARA microfilm sets. But the new (old) stuff is gathered by non-proselytizing missionaries in the field.

      Since over 1 MILLION new images are added EACH WEEK, there is no way FamilySearchIndexing.org will ever catchup!

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    2. Images from former Communist countries are captured by archival employees or contractors. There are no missionaries invovled. There is a backlog of digitally captured images for the Communist areas that will be delivered by the end of the year. Currently, images from Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are delivered several weeks after they are imaged. Records that are filmed are being digitized as quickly as our resources have time to describe them.

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  7. Great questions. I hadn't realized that the Wiki did not provide clear sources. I need to go back and "re-read" what I am seeing. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    Getting ready to teach a class on using the Wiki, this will be something I need to point out.

    Thanks

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  8. I like the idea of distinguishing between extracted info and submitted info in the IGI also.

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    1. DearMARGIE,
      By definition, a wiki can be edited by anyone who logs in. I don't want sources created by any ol' Tom, Dick or Harry. I'd like to have those who can explain the provenance to write the citation. The rest of us can just comment.

      M

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  9. Myrt,
    I work with the unit that creates articles about digital collections published in FamilySearch.org. The articles that we create are not complete. They contain a link to the digital collection, related wiki article and website links and a source citation based on information supplied to us by the unit that constructs the collections. The wiki community can help us by adding data about the collection, related wiki articles and websites, and creating example source citations about records in the collections for research logs, etc.

    When a person selects a collection in FamilySearch.org they see a page that displays the title of the collection, information about the collection, either search boxes or an introduction to browse the collection, source information and two Learn More links. The Learn More links take us to the wiki articles that our group create.

    There is a group assigned to document problems such as the ones that you bring up in your question. When they become aware of such an issue the group creates a Known Issues section in the wiki article that describes the collection. You will recognize the section because of the orange template. Lengthy issues are covered in separate articles that are linked to the Known Issues section of the articles.

    Anyone coming to Roots Tech with questions about the wiki can drop by the wiki booth. It would be great to talk to you.

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