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Should You Contribute to the FamilySearch Family Tree?

Should You Contribute to the FamilySearch Family Tree?

Backside Line Up Entrance

FamilySearch Household Tree (FSFT) is the most important shared household tree web site with 1.2 billion profiles (not all distinctive). This compares to 20 million profiles at WikiTree and three million at WeRelate., a “freemium” web site, incorporates 131 million profiles. So FSFT has the potential to be an awesome choice for many who need to work on a collaborative household tree. It accommodates all of the instruments needed for good household tree constructing: entry to a plethora of free historic data and indexes and the power to connect them as sources; automated report looking and duplicate profile detection; the power so as to add notes and discussions and numerous media information; an in depth assist middle with info on how you can use FSFT, seek for data, and do family tree analysis. Sadly, FSFT incorporates key flaws that forestall me from recommending that folks contribute to it: a scarcity of moderation of disputes, problem attaching supply citations, and lack of safeguards when merging profiles of individuals.

Including Individuals to FSFT

Apart from your self, individuals ought to solely be added to FSFT by attaching them to an present profile, often as a toddler or partner. Doing so is pretty straightforward, and there are two important methods to do it. The primary approach is fairly intuitive, which is to click on on the suitable “Add” button from the profile of the individual you need to connect to, as proven in Fig 1.

Fig 1 Add Individual

A window will open asking you to enter details about the individual. Should you’re going to do that, then I recommend you add as a lot info as you realize, together with the daddy, mom, and partner, to enhance the probabilities of discovering an identical profile that already exists within the tree. Fig 2 exhibits a case the place FSFT discovered a possible match, however upon analyzing it, I decided that it in all probability wasn’t the identical individual, because the start date was virtually 50 years sooner than that of the spouse, so I clicked the Create Individual button.

Fig 2 Add Individual with match

From there you must do all the standard issues when including an individual to your tree: add occasions and details together with sources for every. I’ll talk about including sources in a second. One final level is that FSFT doesn’t all the time discover matching profiles even once they exist. Sadly, in contrast to some web sites or purposes, there’s no drag and drop or copy and paste of profiles. It’s essential to seek for a profile with a purpose to connect it, however the search isn’t good. Fortunately it’s straightforward to merge profiles—virtually too straightforward, as we’ll see in a second.

The second main approach so as to add individuals is through the use of an software that has been licensed by FamilySearch to each learn and replace FSFT. The main purposes that may do that embrace the FSFT apps for Android and iOS, Ancestral Quest, Legacy Household Tree, MacFamilyTree, and RootsMagic. The one software I’ve any expertise with is RootsMagic for Mac. Based mostly on my restricted expertise, I might say that utilizing these apps is straightforward. So as to add an individual utilizing RootsMagic, you merely click on on the FamilySearch icon on a profile after which click on the Add to FamilySearch button, assuming there are not any pre-existing matches (Fig three).

Fig three Add Individual Utilizing RootsMagic

The individual shall be added on the click on of a button, taking the occasions and details you have already got entered in RootsMagic. This has some great benefits of saving time and eliminating fat-finger errors. However because the FSFT search just isn’t good, duplicate profiles are sure to be added. These duplicates may be merged, assuming somebody finds them, however there are issues with merging, too. A serious drawback is that including individuals this manner doesn’t add any sources hooked up to their occasions and information. There’s additionally no alternative so as to add something to the “Cause This Info Is Right” field for every reality (Fig four); customers must return and add it for each reality, and why would they?

Fig four Purpose this info is right

By the best way, in contrast to most apps and web sites, it isn’t attainable to import a GEDCOM file into the FSFT. This can be a good factor, since there would simply find yourself being a number of duplicate profiles, absent highly effective know-how to stop them from being added within the first place. Additionally notice that, whereas it’s potential to add a GEDCOM file to FamilySearch, it doesn’t turn out to be a part of FSFT. As an alternative, it’s preserved as a separate “Family tree,” which was referred to as the Pedigree Useful resource File. Genealogies could be searched and hooked up to FSFT as sources, although whether or not that’s a good suggestion is dependent upon the standard of the family tree (as all the time).

Including Sources

Some of the essential steps in family tree is documenting one’s sources of data, however sadly it’s additionally probably the most uncared for. A part of the fault lies with household tree web sites and purposes for not making it as straightforward as potential to connect supply citations. Some web sites, like and Household Tree Maker, can routinely connect supply citations for info that’s added to timber from their collections, though the standard of these citations may be debated. For info that’s hooked up instantly from FamilySearch’s huge collections, FSFT additionally routinely attaches supply citations. It even provides customers the granularity to pick which information to connect the supply to (Fig 5).

Fig 5 Tag Supply

The simplest method to connect sources in FSFT is when it routinely finds potential matches; these will present up beneath Analysis Assist in the righthand sidebar of the online app (Fig 6).

Fig 6 Document Hints

Nevertheless, should you should manually seek for data or add your personal sources, it’s a multi-step, nonintuitive course of. The method is defined within the assist documentation, but when FamilySearch really need their customers to doc their sources higher, then they should make the method simpler, with step-by-step directions, just like the method utilized by RecordSeek, talked about under.

I assumed that so as to add a supply, I ought to first go to the occasion I needed so as to add it to, however that’s not the case. First you should add the supply to the individual on their Sources tab. You possibly can add a supply by hand, however the best approach to do it’s in the event you’ve already discovered it first and added it to the Supply Field (Fig 7 & eight).

Fig 7 Add SupplyFig eight Supply Field

When you’ve hooked up a supply to the individual (Fig 9), you’ll be able to return to the very fact or occasion and tag the supply (Fig 10).

Fig 9 Connect SupplyFig 10 Tag Supply

Oddly sufficient, it seems that you can’t tag sources to Alternate Occasions, which would appear essential with a view to consider the knowledge; nevertheless, you possibly can add the supply to the Purpose This Info Is Right word. You may as well use the extension or bookmarklet to simplify the method of attaching and tagging sources from virtually anyplace on the internet; FamilySearch ought to construct this functionality into their very own web site. It may also be used to hooked up sources to household timber.

For sources outdoors the online like paper paperwork, there’s no choice that I do know of besides so as to add the supply manually after which tag it to occasions. Once more, you’ll be able to both do that from an individual, or, should you’ll want to connect it to multiple individual, it will be higher to do it from the Supply Field, which you entry from your personal profile. Including a supply by hand isn’t troublesome, and there are little blue “i” buttons with a brief rationalization and examples (Fig 11).

Fig 11 Add Supply

I need to say that the supply entry template is missing primary info and is of no assist in including info instructed by Elizabeth Proven Mills’ Proof Defined. For instance, there are not any separate fields for Writer and Publication particulars. These must be added to the Quotation block, formatted as greatest you possibly can. Additionally observe that the Supply Title actually isn’t the title of the supply. The outline of this area states, “Enter a supply title that you’ll acknowledge later. Instance: England, Dying Certificates of Hugh S. Smith – (1832-1912).” So it’s extra just like the title of the supply quotation. The title of the supply itself ought to go within the Quotation field together with every little thing else. I exploit Household Tree Maker to repeat the Reference Notice from the Edit Supply Quotation window (Fig 12); you can use the same perform of your personal household tree software or web site.

Fig 12 Reference Observe from Household Tree Maker

In any case, including supply citations to FSFT just isn’t as straightforward or strong because it could possibly be, in comparison with different purposes and web sites, which might be why many customers solely connect sources they will simply discover on FamilySearch (i.e., these which are instructed as potential matches).

Looking Data

As I discussed, FSFT can mechanically match potential sources in its huge treasure trove of listed data to individuals within the tree, however in case you take a look at Fig 6 once more, you’ll see that, not solely are you able to seek for data on FamilySearch, you’ll be able to search at,,, and These latter web sites all required paid subscriptions to get probably the most out of them, however many public libraries and FamilySearch (previously Household Historical past) Facilities have paid entry to no less than a few of them. If you click on on a emblem, you’re taken to the corresponding web site with the very important info, and typically the mother and father, partner, and youngsters, if out there, already populated. That is maybe probably the most helpful options of FSFT: the power to simply search different web sites. Whereas it might be good if FSFT searched them routinely and instructed potential matches, nonetheless this can be a good function for a free household tree web site. In case you discover a match and need to add it to an individual on FSFT, you need to use the already talked about RecordSeek software.

Merging Duplicate Profiles

It’s necessary to have the ability to merge duplicate profiles in FSFT, since as I’ve proven, it’s pretty straightforward so as to add individuals, both utilizing an software like RootsMagic or on to FSFT. Nevertheless, merging has its personal pitfalls, the primary one being that the profiles of utterly totally different individuals can find yourself being merged. When this occurs, their occasions, sources, youngsters, spouses, and/or mother and father can be merged, creating fairly a multitude for different customers to untangle. Different web sites, like, have safeguards to assist forestall faulty merges. For instance, most merges can solely be accomplished by profile managers, who’ve the required permissions to edit profiles. FSFT doesn’t actually have any safeguards; anybody can merge any profiles, with a couple of exceptions.

Too Straightforward to Make Modifications

This leads me to my subsequent level: it’s too straightforward for individuals to make modifications willy-nilly to profiles. Ease of use is often an excellent factor, however I can go into virtually any profile within the FSFT, click on an Edit button, and begin making modifications. I’m imagined to have sources and causes for doing so, and I all the time do. Each edit window has a field for “Cause This Info Is Right,” and each supply has “Purpose to Connect Supply” (Fig 13 & 14).

Fig 13 Purpose This Info Is RightFig 14 Cause to Connect Supply

However apart from my very own edits, I’ve solely ever seen the vaguest of causes, like “GEDCOM file,” as if a GEDCOM file is an effective cause for something being right. One good factor FSFT does is maintain a historical past of all modifications, who made them, and the power to undo them (Fig 15). That approach you possibly can contact the consumer who made them and restore the earlier info, if wanted.

Fig 15 Change Historical past

For instance of how irritating these modifications might be, contemplate the case of Jost Riehell, my eighth nice grandfather. When his household moved from one city to a different, the pronunciation of the identify modified, as did the spelling within the data, to Riegell. Over time the surname advanced to develop into Riegel after which Riggle. That is all defined on a superb web site that even accommodates copies of church data, which I cited, however somebody got here alongside and altered his delivery identify to Ruel Riegel. They even left my supply and purpose, not bothering to elucidate why they modified it! (Fig 16).

Fig 16 Restore Change

FSFT lets you watch profiles and get weekly summaries of modifications, however I solely do that for profiles which might be vulnerable to being modified incorrectly, because of all of the misinformation on the internet. In the event you attempt to watch each profile, you’ll go loopy.

One other instance is the foolish issues individuals connect to profiles, treating it as they do their very own household timber. They appear to overlook that FSFT is a collaborative household tree shared by hundreds of customers. The primary issues I’m referring to are the pictures individuals connect as profile footage for those who by no means had their portrait painted or photographed, which is the overwhelming majority of individuals previous to 1860. I’m speaking concerning the bogus household crests, flags of nations like Germany that didn’t exist till 1871, and so on. These days I’ve been seeing portraits of people who weren’t the individual they’re hooked up to. For instance, poor Jost, whose father was a standard cooper, had the photograph of Friedrich V of the Palatinate hooked up to him. (Fig 16)

Fig 17 A Commoner??? (Credit score:, public area)

I like footage as a lot as anybody and attempt to connect as many as I can to my private household tree, however for individuals who had no portraits accomplished, I exploit maps, photographs of locations, and paperwork.

Who’s the Referee?

A number of the foolish issues carried out on FSFT might be prevented in the event that they adopted a number of the practices of their subsequent closest competitor,

  1. Assign profile managers to each profile. The one that creates a profile is the unique supervisor, however they will add others.
  2. Appoint individuals with confirmed expertise and coaching on the location to function referees. Geni calls them “curators,” however they might be referred to as moderators, arbiters, referees, and so on. They might serve to arbitrate disputes about conflicting info.
  3. Lock all or a part of profiles the place the knowledge has been agreed upon and there’s no want for additional modifications, with out substantiating info.

FSFT already has some good options that ought to forestall arbitrary or incorrect modifications, like sources, causes, discussions, and notes. Sadly, they don’t, for no matter purpose. I advised to FamilySearch that they undertake some type of referees however was dismissed. So far as I can inform, FamilySearch has no formal process for resolving disputes amongst customers, aside from to flag abusive content material. There’s the potential for individuals to get into edit wars like these on Wikipedia. I’ve seen this firsthand: I eliminated a surname and requested the opposite consumer for his or her supply. They stated they should have had a supply or they wouldn’t have added it! After which they added it again. I requested them to connect the supply and eliminated the surname. They put it again, and I eliminated it once more. This might go on indefinitely till considered one of us provides in. Thus far the opposite consumer hasn’t restored it once more, however I must watch the profile like a hawk, and I’ve higher issues to do with my time and power, and there wouldn’t be a necessity for it if FSFT had referees.


Do you have to contribute to the FSFT? I already alluded to my opinion: no. Not until you’re a member of the Latter Day Saints Church or are prepared to expend quite a lot of time and psychic power watching profiles to make sure different customers don’t change the knowledge that you’ve rigorously sourced and evaluated. Does that imply I feel FSFT is ineffective? Under no circumstances. It may be helpful for locating different sources of data, particularly inside FamilySearch’s holdings, but in addition on the opposite main family tree web sites. However there are higher methods to document your loved ones tree and get automated matches, akin to utilizing one of many purposes I reviewed in The Household Tree Software program Options Collection, or one of many different web sites. Earlier than you employ one other web site, it’s essential determine if you wish to retailer your personal tree individually or collaborate with others on a joint household tree. I’ll assessment a few of these various web sites in an upcoming collection.

What perception or info do you will have concerning the FSFT? Please share within the feedback.

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