Monday, March 30, 2015

FamilySearch is Adding IGI Extracted Source Data to Family Tree Profiles

It appears that FamilySearch is adding extracted information from the International Genealogical Index (IGI) to FamilySearch Family Tree profiles.  Reader Joanne sent an email today asking why this was being done.

1)  I went to my list of People I'm Watching in FamilySearch Family Tree and clicked on the "Changes to People I'm Watching" and scrolled down until I found some entries for sources attached by FamilySearch:

 I clicked on the item for Benjamin Seaver LZYC-SLG, the profile opened and I scrolled down to the Sources list:

There's no indication on the screen above with information about the source provider.  However, I can click on each link and more information opens providing the full source citation and the provider:

2)  For Benjamin Seaver, the first source on the list appears to have been provided by FamilySearch on 6 November 2014, but showed up on my Watch List on 28 March 2015.  The yellow text box says:

"This extracted IGI record was used to create this person.  Learn more..."

The "Learn More" information says:

"Issues Addressed
  • Why is FamilySearch attaching sources to individuals.
  • A Family Tree record represents two similar but distinct individuals.
  • The extracted IGI record source is about a completely different person who is linked into the family by mistake.
  • The record was incorrectly merged in Family Tree.
  • The record was incorrectly combined in and moved to Family Tree"
There is more information about this:

"The message indicates the source record was used to create this person in Family Tree. It will have been added by FamilySearch. This knowledge article will explain how to:
Identify an incorrectly combined person
Fix the problem by separating the records
Prevent an incorrect merge
Understand why bad merges occurred"

There is more explanation for each of these knowledge articles with examples of how to work with them.

3)  I looked at several other of my "sources from FamilySearch" to see what was added.  Here is the added source for Amos Gates, another of my ancestors:

In this case, several Sources were added.

I also checked the wife of Benjamin Seaver, Martha Whitney:

4)  Most of these "added sources" that I've looked at to date seem to be attached to the correct persons.  A few were for the wrong person (same name, son of the father, and son to the mother) and I need to sort that out again.

A lot (maybe all) of these source additions are dated 6 November 2014 and just showed up on my Changes list.

I appreciate that the Family Tree is adding source citations to person profiles to records of the person, that will help many researchers find sources they might otherwise miss.

It may be that these are intended to "help" researchers identify accurate sources for persons that they, or others, have merged in the past.  Of course, if the person is not on the researcher's "Watch List," then the researcher won't know about it, unless they see it in the person profile.

It would help if the potential problem was identified rather than just providing the source and seeming to say "check these out, you may have screwed up."

5)  A terminology point here - the IGI is not an "Original Source," and neither is a published vital records book in alphabetical order (which is what most of the ones I've seen added are).  No index is an "Original Source" by definition! They are "Derivative Sources" per the accepted definition, at least by the professional community, usually derived from town clerk records that may or may not be Original Sources.  FamilySearch should use the appropriate terminology in their Knowledge Base.

6)  I hope that FamilySearch will provide more explanation as to why these sources have been added to person profiles in the FamilySearch Family Tree.  Users need to understand:

*  Why they were added, but, more importantly, what to do with them!

*  How does FamilySearch know that profiles were wrongly merged?

*  How can I judge that the profiles were correctly merged?

*  Who is responsible for separating improperly merged persons?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Thank you, Joanne, for the question, and I hope we get more answers!

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver


Geolover said...

All I have seen so far, attached to family members about whom I am fairly well versed, have been wrongly attached. "Same name = same person."

This seems to be done by computer algorithm. I doubt that a human brain would be making these mistakes. This is just making the Family Tree even more junk-riddled.

See the exchanges posted here for examples:

Geolover said...

It would be so nice if one could just delete the ones wrongly attached, but one cannot. One must search for them in historical records, select 'view attachment' from the detail view page, and detach from wrong person in SourceLinker.


Ted Johnson said...

It appears to me that if there was a bad combine at some point in then the IGI Extracted Sources are appearing for all the people that were improperly combined into the person's record. I am seeing dozens of IGI sources that have nothing to do with the people they are attached to. They are for completely different people, who, I presume, at one point were improperly combined with my ancestor's record. There is a lengthy document that explains what we are supposed to do with these "wrongly attached sources:"

However, this procedure is so convoluted that I don't how we could possibly be expected to follow it for the dozens of wrongly attached sources that are appearing.

The wrongly attached sources are creating a huge issue for me. I have some ancestors in Family Tree that now have dozens of spurious sources attached to them from these IGI extracted records.

T said...

Ancestry is doing a similar thing. They don't attach it but it's a green leaf hint and for the uninitiated, Trouble ahead. Those sorts of hints have multiplied in the past year and I don't trust anything ancestry gives me any more unless I can see the actual scanned page. If it's index only I pass it by. Two deaths on two individual's pages on my tree were converted into fact when I plainly said PROBABLY died here and now. Does that make it a fact? Not in my book. If these sorts of documents are going to be where familysearch and ancestry are going, I want no part of it. All in an effort to let someone who doesn't know anything about their family build a tree in an evening. Whose tree will they build?

Debbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debbie said...

I have heard that FamilySearch is NOT a good place to have your family tree. That once you start your tree that ist is no longer "yours". Any and all pics become theirs. Has anyone heard of this before? Is this true?
And now to see that they attach things (especially to a wrong person) to your tree, makes me wonder about FamilySearch. I mean, they could at least offer the data/info say like a hint like Ancestry does, and not just add it to someone. Correct me if I am wrong, please!

OurFamily said...


You should be able to just click on the source in the sources section of the Family Tree person page and then click the detach button.

You are correct about the algorithms. The persons in Family Tree were created years ago by computer algorithms merging data from the Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File, and the indexed & contributed IGI. Sometimes these algorithms made mistakes. In general they were quite good, but where names were not unique or persons came from large towns with multiple people sharing the name, some bad merges occurred. The error rate varied by person.

This exercise of attaching the historical documents that were used to created the original tree person exposes to users the provenance of how that person in Family Tree was created. It lets users understand what records may have contributed bad data and not only detach the records, but removed the bad data they contain. Without the the original historical documents, users would be blind to where the bad data came from and be less empowered to remove it.

T, Debbie,

What is being done with the Indexed IGI is vary much NOT what Ancestry does with their shakey leaves. Please understand that these attached Iindexed IGI records are NOT hints. They are the records from which the original tree person was created. Now that these are attached users will no longer be blind as to where bad data may have come from and are empowered to remove the source and its resulting person data...thereby improving the quality of the Family Tree.

Sue Maxwell said...

Debbie, there are two different sections for "trees" in FamilySearch. The main tree is a worldwide tree and everyone is linked showing their relationships to other family. One tree and millions of people. This tree is a combination of submitted persons for about 100 years now. You add your family typically one by one.

The other place in FamilySearch for "trees" is called "Genealogies". Here you can add a gedcom file and it stays there with no changes allowed. It can go through a process now where you add the gedcom, compare to the main Family Tree and you can only add people that are not already in the tree. But your full gedcom stays there for info only.

Hope this helps you understand the process. It is not like other family tree sites.