Tuesday, December 27, 2016

So what are the pros?

In yesterday’s blog post, Let’s make FamilySearch’s Family Tree better for everyone, I briefly touched on the cons of a collaborative tree but I didn’t talk about the pros. Why would you want to be part of this project?

I will start out by saying that I do not have my entire file sync’d to the Family Tree.  If I did, I would spend all of my time doing maintenance because Legacy immediately alerts me to any changes that have been made on anyone I have sync’d.  With a little over 10,000 people in my file the probability is very high that a number of my people will be changed every day. So who do I have sync’d?  I have my entire One-Name Study (ONS) sync’d.  My surname for my ONS is very rare (Glaentzer and variations) so it is less likely there will be activity on these people.  The other group of people I have sync’d are my brick walls. 

So what does “sync’d” actually mean?  For each of these people I have told Legacy that I have viewed the information on FamilySearch.  Here is one of my brick wall ancestors:

ss

Both arrows set to green means we are in sync. This does not mean that the information I have in Legacy is identical to what is on FamilySearch. I could choose to upload/download to make both sides have the identical information but I don’t have to.

If anyone changes any data on the FamilySearch. side I will be notified immediately because the bottom arrow will turn red (if the top arrow is red that means I have made changes in Legacy without resyncing).

If I see that arrow change to red, the first thing I am going to do is connect to FamilySearch to see what was changed and by whom. Legacy allows me to filter my names by what color arrows they have. The other two programs that can directly sync to the Family Tree have similar systems built in to alert you of changes.

This helps me in two ways.  If someone uploads something I don’t have I can analyze it.  Does it have a source?  If so, I can investigate it further to find the source and evaluate it myself. I can also contact the submitter so that we can talk about this person. If this is a descendant from a different branch they may know something that I don’t and they might have photographs and documents (like Bible records) that I had no idea existed.

FamilySearch’s Family Tree is a research tool. Like any other tool you must use it judiciously. As long as you know what you are doing and you use the Family Tree the right way, the data on your computer will not be changed and you might just learn some things about your ancestors that you did not know.  


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, December 26, 2016

Let’s make FamilySearch’s Family Tree better for everyone

I am a big supporter of FamilySearch’s Family Tree. Yes, there are problems with a collaborative tree but I think the pros outweigh the cons. The biggest issue is that people complain when others come behind them and make changes. There are a couple of things I want to say about that.

  • All of your research should be on YOUR computer. You should not be using FamilySearch as your genealogy database program. I think it is a mistake to use FamilySearch that way. People can change what is on FamilySearch but no one can change what is on your computer. You can easily sync to FamilySearch using one of the authorized programs (I use Legacy) which gives you full control over what is uploaded and downloaded.
  • They aren’t “your” ancestors. These ancestors belong to other people too. Here is a fun Descendants Calculator. I set it at 5 generations, 25 years per generation, and 4 for an average number of children (a very conservative number). This person would have 3,905 descendants.  I am sure more than one of these descendants is a genealogist.

So here are a few suggestions on how you can help make the Family Tree better:

If you don’t know what you are doing you can mess it up for everyone else 
This is my biggest pet peeve.  People get excited and try to make changes to the Family Tree without taking the time to educate themselves on how everything works. Adding people, merging people, and deleting people affects EVERYONE who has those ancestors in their tree.  The very best training I have found is the
Riverton FamilySearch Library Handouts. There are 11 pdfs you can download to your computer to read and use as a reference. They include screenshots and Riverton updates them as needed. These are the handouts I use when I give a presentation on FamilySearch (with permission). 

Take the time to address the possible duplicates
A lot of people don’t address possible duplicates. They have FSID ABC-1234 in their tree and they only worry about updating this FSID. All of the programs that can sync will present you with a list of possible duplicates. If you are working directly on the FamilySearch website you will also be presented with a list of possible duplicates. The two mistakes you can make are not combining duplicates when you should and merging people haphazardly when you shouldn’t. If there is any question, don’t merge. Please see the
Riverton Handouts for more information.

Please add your sources
Other researchers need to know where you got your information because if it conflicts with what they have and you don’t have a source, chances are they are going to update the person with their information knocking your data off.

Take advantage of the Discussions area
This is a great place to post your theories and evidence for other researchers to ponder and add their thoughts.

Make sure your email address/contact information is correct
Nothing is more frustrating to a researcher than not being able to contact a contributor when they have a question.

If you use Legacy, here is the training information you need: Legacy FamilySearch Training.  If you use one of the other programs that can sync, check to see if they have specific training materials that address both how you use the Family Tree in general and how to use their program specifically to sync. Even if you don’t use Legacy, you might want to read the above article, especially the part about cleaning up your data before you start uploading.


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Ethics and the Genealogist

I have started a second blog called Ethics and the Genealogist.  I feel there is a need for a forum dedicated to the ethical issues genealogists face. It will be a few days before I post on the new blog because I have a couple of technical issues to work out first.

I have also created
The Ethical Genealogist Facebook Group page so that there can be open discussion about current events and topics related to ethics within the genealogist community. This is a closed group so you have to request to join and then myself or a moderator will approve you. I am going to get the Facebook Group page up and running first and then the blog will follow.


Copyright © 2016 Michele Simmons Lewis

Friday, December 16, 2016

2016 International Genetic Genealogy Conference

If you want to keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the world of genetic genealogy then you need to buy the conference videos from the 2016 International Genetic Genealogy Conference. For $99.00 you will get NINETEEN lectures on a broad range of topics. You are not going to find a better bargain when it comes to high quality continuing education. So far I have watched the first eight and haven’t been disappointed.  I will be knocking out several more this weekend.

Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

My friend Randy Seaver

I read Randy Seaver’s blog, Genea-Musings. It’s one of my favorites. One of the things Randy does is he posts lists of the new databases coming online at the major repositories. Part of my job at Legacy is to keep our Research Guidance module up-to-date so I monitor these databases too. I sent Randy a message over Facebook with my observation that lately Ancestry has been adding databases that FamilySearch already has. I do know that Ancestry and FamilySearch have a partnership but I was bemoaning a bit about Ancestry not adding more unique databases. What I didn’t know is that Randy had just done a comparison of the four top websites. I get his blog by email and it arrives in my inbox a day or two after his blog actually comes out. He did an exact name search for “Seaver” on all four websites to see what results he would get. You can see his findings HERE.

It just so happens that I do a One-Name Study for a rare surname (Glaentzer and variations).  I wanted to do something similar to what Randy did. I am not as industrious as Randy so I simplified my test. I recorded the number of hits I got on the top four websites for their documents side and their tree side and compared them.  I did an exact search for “Glaentzer.”  This is my maternal grandmother’s maiden name.

Company Records Trees
Ancestry 680 93
FamilySearch 346 333*
FindMyPast 93 n/a
MyHeritage 314 346

*Even though I told FamilySearch to do an exact search only, it returned names that were not exact when I searched the FamilyTree.  I didn’t go through and count the actual number of Glaentzers. I recorded the total number but the real number is less than this.


On the surface it looks as through Ancestry has the others beat in the number of records but I haven’t scrutinized the hits yet. It was a very interesting experiment.

You will also want to check out Randy’s ongoing series about Ancestry's We’re Related App which has been very interesting. Randy looks at each of his matches and then evaluates the probability that the lineage is correct.

So far I have 61 matches, both to famous people and to Facebook friends. I have a barebones tree on Ancestry for DNA purposes but I might upload a more comprehensive tree just for fun. I happen to like BYU’s RelativeFinder which is similar in concept but uses FamilySearch’s FamilyTree. Both of these are more for entertainment purposes but you never know when you might get a valuable clue so I don’t discount them.

 

Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Thursday, December 8, 2016

DNA and more DNA

chromosomes

 

I have been spending the last few weeks rounding out my DNA education through selected webinars, books and blogs. Everything else has been on the back burner. I am a solid intermediate trying to get to the advanced level. My latest endeavor is setting up and learning how to use Genome Mate Pro. In preparation, I became a Tier 1 member of GEDMatch. I had subscribed to the Tier 1 tools for a single month a couple of times but now I am to the point that I need access all of the time. I am also now a paid member of DNAGedcom. Genome Mate Pro works together with GEDmatch and DNAGedcom so it just had to be done. I manage a lot of kits and I think Genome Mate Pro is going to be a godsend when it comes to keeping everything organized and analyzed.

Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis