FamilySearch Family Tree is a unified user submitted and user corrected universal pedigree. It differs from other online family tree programs in that each individual does not have his or her own "pedigree" but individuals participate in the overall project. Ideally, each individual in the world has one place (node) on the Family Tree. In addition, Family Tree has an expanded sourcing function, allowing individuals, families and events to be documented with specific sources.
FamilySearch Family Tree is an integral part of the FamilySearch.org website. See my previous post for how to gain access to the program.
Family Tree is structured to avoid duplication of individuals. Ultimately, duplicate individuals will be merged, although that function has yet to be implemented at the time this post was being written.
The predecessor to FamilySearch Family Tree was New.FamilySearch.org (NFS). However, NFS did not allow editing and merely accumulated differing information about individuals and families. In some cases, the accumulation of conflicting information rendered the program useless for record keeping purposes. NFS will be entirely replaced by Family Tree.
Both NFS and Family Tree provide members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church) with a method to submit ordinance information for use in the Temples. Because Family Tree allows only one instance of an individual or family, it will apparently be more useful than NFS in preventing duplication.
Because the users and contributors to FamilySearch Family Tree are registered, most of the difficulties in contacting contributors will be eliminated. In addition, anyone can correct the information in the file and provide sources. There is an almost universal concern from potential users, when they hear that anyone can make changes to any of the information in Family Tree, that there will be conflicts. To a great extent, the potential for conflicts is an illusion. The ability to add sources helps to avoid conflicts. If there are legitimate conflicts in the sources, then both versions of the disputed facts can be displayed and there is a way to discuss the differences. I am guessing, but at some level, there will likely be a method of arbitrating unresolvable differences.
If you have further questions about Family Tree, please feel free to leave a comment and I will address any issues raised.