Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Why Was Turned Off

FamilySearch recently sent out a blog post entitled, "Why Was Turned Off: Frequently Asked Questions." The blog post refers to the fact that the old website is being taken down publicly on February 1, 2015. The website was made read-only some time ago. As with any change, there are always those who are upset and complain about the loss of the old website. The FamilySearch blog post attempts to explain the reason why FamilySearch migrated away from to the new FamilySearch Family Tree website.

This particular blog post answers, in-depth, many of the questions that are raised continually by the adoption of FamilySearch Family Tree as a replacement for After reading through the blog post, I have chosen not to reproduce large portions of the blog post here. I think the information provided is valuable and explains many of the problems and issues raised by the transition. There is however one reference that I think is important to be disseminated further. The question is asked, "How can we "unmerge" mismatched records?" Here is the response:
The new.FamilySearch system combined records in such a way that even though you think it is showing you what was combined, it was not a clean view and could be very flawed. That is one of the reasons we needed to move away from new.FamilySearch to Family Tree. Data in new.FamilySearch was becoming jumbled and unreliable. Family Tree keeps a history of merges and allows users to unmerge an incorrectly merged record. To learn how to properly unmerge a record, refer to the help article titled, “Undoing a Merge.”
One of the main issues in migrating from to Family Tree is the issue of the combined records in the database, many of which have been wrongly combined. The resolution of this issue is somewhat complex but involves simply correcting the information in Family Tree and, to some extent, ignoring the previously mis-combined records.This particular issue is addressed in the FamilySearch blog post as follows in response to the question about incorrectly combined records in
They will be able to go a person’s records and put only the best sourced information there. If multiple people were incorrectly combined or merged in Family Tree there is a process to follow to clean up these incorrect merges. In many cases, it is easier to fix this problem in Family Tree. Using the data in new.FamilySearch to provide you with a roadmap to cleanup your data is not a good choice since many individuals were not correctly merged in the first place.
This blog post answers some of the more difficult questions which I am faced with answering on a regular basis. In many cases, it will take me anywhere from an hour to two hours to adequately explain to people who are caught up in trying to correct the errors in Family Tree inherited from the reasons for the difficulties they are facing. Blog posts such as this one are extremely helpful in facilitating the transition process I appreciate the explanations given by Jim Greene. If you have anything to do with Family Tree, I would suggest carefully reading and noting the implications of the explanations given.


  1. Thank heavens for Family Tree. Mis-combined data of all kinds in new familysearch made that database impossible to use anymore.

  2. I just wish they'd be totally honest over the question of nFS and simply say: "We simply could not continue maintaining it because the time and money to do so, is not worth the minimal benefits of doing so."

    Instead we get the Public Relations speak of "it no longer allowed us to provide the best possible service and data resources to our users" and "even though you think (nFS) is showing you what was combined, it was not a clean view and could be very flawed".

    I accept that nFS's view of combined records might not have been perfect. But it was a *clue*. A clue that has now been lost (albeit there is a promise of "we are planning to create sources on each person in Family Tree that refer to the original AF, PRF, and IGI records". Which should have been there from the start.)

    The flaw in the advice to use correctly sourced information to "split" incorrectly merged people is that it *won't* be done. Take my example of my ancestor, Ann Mayer (nee unknown). She was combined in nFS with an Ann Brindley, nee Trimmer. Using the combined view of nFS, I could see that Ann Brindley nee Trimmer's sources all came from Derbyshire and Ann Mayer's records all from Cheshire. Hence I can see a way forward to create a new record for my ancestor say, and delete all her data from the Ann Brindley nee Trimmer persona. Simple (sort of).

    Without that view, however, they seem to think I will realise we have an incorrect merge, do research on both Anns, discover their separateness and resolve similarly. Not a chance. I am *not* doing research on someone else's ancestor. I've enough problems with my own. Who says, for instance, that the sources are even in FamilySearch? (Which seem to be the assumption all too often - There are other sources in the world!) No, I'll simply delete the incorrect data - leaving Mr Trimmer without a wife and their children without a mother.

    As I say, there is probably no way nFS could have continued as desired - but the "Oh this is better and there isn't a downside" view grates.

    OK rant over!

    1. Rants are perfectly acceptable in this context. I have heard similar concerns for some time now. That is one reason why I keep returning to the issue.