Warning, this is another of my tirades. You can skip it if you want, but I would appreciate comments.
During the past few days, I have made two presentations about FamilySearch Family Tree. In each case, I have been confronted with frustrated, annoyed, desperate, overwhelmed, and in some cases very angry people who are confronted with transitioning from New.FamilySearch.org to FamilySearch.org's Family Tree. I have been asked the same questions over and over again.
Most of the issues raised have nothing whatsoever to do with the programs themselves, but center around the data. Predominantly, the issue is the overwhelmingly large number duplicate people in the data pool and the number of inaccurate relationships, dates and events. Almost every single person has a story to relate about an ancestor with the wrong gender, married to the wrong person, with the wrong children in the family, with inaccurate and unbelievable dates or any of hundreds of other possible issues with what is being presented in Family Tree. This is nothing new. It is just that people are becoming acutely aware of the accumulated dietris of a 150 years of poorly documented and researched genealogy.
The reactions vary from "who cares, I'm not going to do anything" to intense anger. I have become the target of many people's frustration and have spent literally an hour trying to get their anger under control. I had one lady come to me with a file containing over 42,000 names "going all the way back to Cleopatra" and wanted an instant solution as to how to get all of this information "into Family Tree."
Many of the people I talk to are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have issues with the ordinance process and the status of the records concerning ordinances. They are alarmed at the ordinances that have been performed for individuals who are in no way qualified, such as marriages to the wrong person, children not in the family and etc. An underlying problem are those people who are entering hundreds, sometimes thousands of names into the New.FamilySearch.org program of people they are not related to. They are alarmed that they will not be able to "finish" entering their thousands of names before Family Tree prevents them from uploading GEDCOM files full of names, hundreds at a time that they have extracted from old records. In almost every case, they do not have any intention of checking for duplicates, they just want to make sure their extractions get entered. I have talked to quite a few people who have pools of names they are in process of entering. I know of groups of researchers who are essentially extracting all of the names in geographic areas, related or not, and entering them wholesale into New.FamilySearch.org. I also have talked to people who have hundreds of printed cards and are worried if they will be able to keep these cards in the future. Most of these people fully realize that once Family Tree kicks in, they will be unable to add huge blocks of names without checking for duplicates and they are angry because they cannot keep just adding names like they have in the past. They are going to be dumping these names into New.FamilySearch.org in an effort to beat the deadline.
Some people are mollified once they understand the concept of the FamilySearch Family Tree program. But they are overly concerned about other members of their family entering unsupported and inaccurate information into the program. They see changes in Family Tree occurring without any rhyme or reason because the program is linked to New.FamilySearch.org. They are also dismayed at the prospect of "cleaning" up the mess. They say they simply do not have time to correct everyone's errors and they refuse to do anything about it. In my own lines, I am watching a few people already enter random information into Family Tree without any sources and without explaining where they got the information and if they do give a source, it is usually one that has long since been discredited.
OK, at this point, I have talked about the people who actually know about both New.FamilySearch.org and Family Tree. What is more than apparent, is that these people constitute a vanishingly small minority of the genealogists, much less of the community at large. Most people I mention the program to, if they are not already interested in and participating in genealogy, simply are unaware of the entire program or unaware of FamilySearch altogether. When I talked recently to one of my own adult children, he did not remember ever having looked at either program and he is the rule not the exception. I think most efforts to involve a greater participation in the process of genealogy are like trying to push a rope. All the effort you put into announcing the program ends up moving only a very, very small number of people.
Despite all this, I will keep presenting, in fact I have two more large meetings about Family Tree scheduled for this weekend in different parts of the State of Arizona. But it is clear, that with few exceptions, the message about Family Tree is not getting through yet to the average genealogist.