In social networking, following has become endemic. In this context, when we "follow" someone, we are interested in learning about what happens in their lives. On the FamilySearch.org Family Tree, following is considerably different. The function of following is to learn about any changes being made to a particular individual by other contributors (usually your relatives) on the Family Tree. This feature was previously called "watch."
First some definitions for clarification. The FamilySearch.org Family Tree is a collaborative, universal, user maintained family tree. It is based on a wiki design and that means that registered contributors can add, delete (under some restrictions), and change any information. This concept does not sit well with people who think they own their ancestors and all their ancestral information. But that is a topic for another day.
The Family Tree is also source-based. This means that if the information entered into the Family Tree is not supported by valid, genealogical sources, it is suspect and of course, subject to change. It is also common that different contributors have different opinions about the content. Because of the structure and basis for the Family Tree, the contributors are, in a sense, forced to collaborate.
So how do we reach a balance between accuracy and stability? This is an especially difficult concept because of the occurrence of randomly entered wrong information. So we divide the types of information into hierarchical categories. Such as these:
- Level One: Randomly entered data that is obviously wrong and unsupported by any source citations
- Level Two: Information that is unsupported but not obviously wrong
- Level Three: Information that is supported by a source citation but wrong
- Level Four: Information that is well supported and is subject to opinion
- Level Five: Information that so well supported by historical, genealogical records as to be accepted subject to future research