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Monday, June 21, 2010

Waiting for the shoe to drop in New FamilySearch

The last major update to New FamilySearch was in March, 2010. Some time ago there was a Beta version available to users and recently, a second Beta version was ready for review. The Beta version was pulled from availability suddenly last week and so those of us watching New FamilySearch expected a new version of the program to be released. As expected, the new release became available over the weekend of June 19-20, 2010. (I always try to put the whole date in my posts because posts have a way of persisting on the Web and I get aggravated when I read a post and find out it is five years old). The newest version of New FamilySearch implements the individual "Discussion Board." This is sort-of a mini-forum available for each individual. The announcement of the implementation says:
Each deceased individual in the system has a discussion board, where you can do the following:
• Identify yourself as someone who is interested in or actively working on an individual or family line.
• Coordinate the correction of errors and additional research with other interested users.
• Identify incorrect information on the individual’s record.
The reasoning behind adding the discussion feature is explained as follows:
Advantages of the Discussions Feature
The discussions feature provides a cooperative environment where issues can be discussed and resolved. It has many advantages over the dispute feature, which discussions will eventually replace.
• Adding a dispute blocks a user’s ability to make the needed corrections. Discussions do not.
• The dispute feature is not cooperative. It is difficult to question a dispute, defend the disputed information, or add additional information that identifies correct information.
• The discussion feature lets you work with users who do not allow the system to display their e-mail address or other contact information.
• The sources and reasoning required to resolve a dispute are valuable and should be preserved with the record. Using the discussions feature to coordinate corrections preserves this valuable information with
the individual’s record.
• A “discussion” sounds less contentious than a “dispute.”
 It appears that the discussions are at least in part, self moderated. The instructions contain procedures for reporting inappropriate discussions and comments. Inappropriate discussions include:
• Offensive or abusive language or content.
• Information that might harm or embarrass living relatives.
• Links to external Web pages with inappropriate content.
• Solicitations for business or research services.
However, there is a "Report Abuse" link and there will be data administrators to review any concerns.

In addition to the new discussion feature, New FamilySearch implements an exact search feature for names, event dates and event places. It is interesting that by using a third party program such as Ancestral Quest or RootsMagic to access the data, you could already find individuals by an exact search because all of the data included with the individual on your local database was included in the search.

It will be interesting to see if the new discussion feature has an impact on the amount of poorly researched and inaccurate information being loaded into the program. One of the most obvious issues with the new discussion tab is that there is nothing in the program indicating that there is discussion going on. It is likely that the same people who do not take the time to edit or review their inaccurate entries will not take the time to read the discussions either. I am putting out a few discussions to see if anyone reads them.

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