Friday, July 17, 2009

The future of New FamilySearch

The Ancestry Insider has been reporting a meeting with Ron Tanner (probably a relative) the newer person in charge of New FamilySearch. This discussion has highlighted several of the severe challenges faced in the implementation of the New FamilySearch program. These challenges are particularly evident with the list of goals for an ideal program. Quoting from the 17 July 2009 post, these goals are as follows:
  • The ability to easily correct information
  • The ability to prove conclusions are accurate with source references and images
  • Invite greater peer review and collaboration
  • Allow for the evolution of a combined human family pedigree
As presently available and as the Ancestry Insider notes, New FamilySearch is a long way from these ideals.

One of the issues not discussed in the article are some of the original goals of New FamilySearch, that is to provide a simpler method of submitting names for LDS Temple ordinance work. I believe that the program certainly has reached this goal. The larger question is whether or not the program is intended to become something more than a method to keep track of Temple ordinance work? In the original announcements the program was also intended to eliminate most or all of the duplication occurring in the submission of Temple ordinances. From my perspective, New FamilySearch has been much less than successful in this regard. In fact, it appears that the program facilitates a whole new method of duplicating ordinances. I was in a meeting this past week where the presenter advocated looking at your file on New FamilySearch and then finding the green arrows (indicating the need for Temple Ordinances) and simply clicking on the arrows and submitting the work. Most of us working with the program are painfully aware of the numerous duplicate individuals in the program (IOUS or Individuals of Unusual Size). Although the ideas for future development discussed by Tanner and the Ancestry Insider are appealing, they do not address these original and fundamental issues.

I would certainly welcome any solution to the problem of inaccurate information in New FamilySearch and a Wikipedia-type model would certainly help, but I do think the original goals of the program should also be addressed.

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