Wednesday, August 30, 2017

FTM 2017 - Source and Citation Cleanup

I have been using FTM for about 2 decades. In the beginning, I only tapped into the basics of the program. As changes were made with the software, I still only expanded my knowledge a little. In the beginning, I will be honest, I never cited any of my sources. Then as my file grew larger and the Internet became a way of life, I realized the error of my ways.

I remembered when I first started creating my citations, I wish I could copy the citation over and over again, I used notepad to store my citation and then copied and pasted the sections of my citations into the proper place.The process was tedious and I wasn’t always good about developing good citation habits.

I don’t recall which version introduced the copy command for citations, however I was very excited. However, I did not understand the difference between duplicate and link. It was through trial and error that I learned what each meant. However, as I review my citations, I realized that I have many errors or duplicate citations when I should had linked the citations.

For those who don't know the difference, I use linked citations on facts where I want the citations to be the same. This way, if I changed the citation on any of the linked facts, it will change them across all the linked citations. However, duplicate is nice if you want to be consistent on your citations however you might need it to be changed for the new source. For example, if you are referencing a book and the citation is giving page 1 as your citation, when you change the page to 2, you can duplicate the citation, change it refer to page 2, copy and then link it to every fact you find on page 2.

For example I have a source that is showing 29 citations when in fact it is really only one unique citation. I should had used the "link" citation instead of "duplicate" citation.

Luckily I am able to “merge” these duplicates and clean up my files.

I right click the first citation and then select Replace Source Citation.

I must first select the Source title and then click the second citation followed by clicking OK.

I can confirm the Replace Source Citation by comparing the top citation which was my first selected citation to the bottom citation which are exactly the same.

After repeating these steps, I end up with 1 citation.

After doing any amount of work in my database/tree, I make sure I compact my file/tree/database. Since the process of replacing the citations causes parts being removed, the compact will remove these empty gaps and in case a problem arises, I always check the box to perform a backup before compacting.

The back up will be done first and then the compact will occur. Make sure you put the backup someplace where you will find it. Please note, backup to a location on your hard drive (it will be faster) and then manualy copy it to an external drive.

Please note when FTM performs its compact, it will close your file and reopen it. FTM will show you how much the file size was reduced by. Keep in mind, that by cleaning up these citations my file size is getting smaller and will run faster (with luck).

Next I sync my FTM to Ancestry. The Sync Change Log at first glance is a little confusing. I am not even going to pretend that I totally understand what the sync change log is showing. However based on my example, “Citations Added” appears to be the number of unique citations. Since I merged/replaced all 29 citations into 1, the Added Citations is 1. Also this means I deleted 28 citations since I ended up with 1 final citation. As for the People Changed, I am not sure exactly, however my best estimate is that the 29 citations were attached to 47 unique people.

Finally looking at the detail view of the change sync log, you can see some of the actual things happening during the sync. On a replaced citation, one is deleted and when replaced becomes a New citation. Again, since they were all replaced into the same citation, this is the one new reported above. Also note that citations are grouped together at the end even though they are showing with the changes by person.

In Conclusion, just remember when you merge records into one, this will result in deleted records and your file should be compacted to get rid of the empty spaces left behind. Therefore, don't be alarmed when you see the sync will be deleting items.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Does Ancestry contain lots of errors?

I ask this question because I keep seeing comments similar to this “Ancestry is fantastic but contains a lot of errors!” I think what errors? Are you talking about Member Trees? Well of course Member Trees can contain errors; they are only as accurate as the researcher. Are they talking about the “hints”? If so, my next question is, How can “hints” have errors, they are only suggestions and rely on the user to determine if they are for their person or not. Ancestry hints are not saying this is your person and thus you must accept and attach it to your person, no they are suggesting that the hint MIGHT BE for your person, please look over the information and determine if it is for your person.

Did you know that once someone attaches a record to a person that is similar to your person, this then can cause that record to become a hint for your person? Therefore if that person attaches a record that doesn’t really belong to their person, this can cause “hints” to show up that are not really for your person.

Ancestry has two major parts, records and trees. Records are not necessarily original records or even images of original records. Some of the “records” are indexes which can point us to original records. Ancestry allows users to search their records which they call databases. For Ancestry to allow users to search, they have created their own “indexes” for their record collections. I have found these indexes to have errors; however this is because the record associated actually might have the error. If the user can view the actual image, they then can determine where the error lies, in the Ancestry Index or in the original record. When there is no attached image, the user can’t determine where the error is. However, Ancestry has given users the opportunity to “correct” the transcription index with their suggestion variation. This not only helps future researchers, but gives Ancestry another variation for their “hints”.

Member trees are just as suggested, trees that members have created. These trees are created independently and Ancestry will not stop members from creating bogus trees. I once had an associate who was surprise by this statement. I reminded them that a person is not reviewing members’ trees and making corrections. Members can attach any document they find on Ancestry to any person in their tree. Scary right? My rule of thumb, Ancestry Member Trees are my last resort to look for clues, I do not copy other trees into my tree. I review their tree, see if they have sources attached and then review those sources. It is based on sources (records) that determine what I add to my tree.

I feel that Ancestry makes genealogy seem too easy. Their commercials show a person who states they typed in the name of their ancestor, saw a shaky leaf. Next thing you see, they have a complete tree going back several generations. I am glad that Ancestry is drawing new people into Genealogy and that they even hit the 5 million mark for DNA tests, however this as also cause Member Trees with many errors. These people might not realize that “hints” are just hints. They might be added everything Ancestry is suggesting. Many DNA test takers are doing DNA not for genealogy however for ethnicity results and thus might not even have a tree. Many who have trees don’t understand how to attach those trees to their DNA results. Ancestry does have a wonderful knowledge base, however is the average person looking there before creating a tree or are they diving in with both feet.

In conclusion, Ancestry does not contain a lot of errors however Ancestry is promoting, perhaps indirectly, to errors in Members’ Trees. Which then create “hints” that are not really applicable for the person one might be searching.