Friday, May 3, 2013

Follow-Up Friday - Interesting Reader Comments on Genea-Musings Posts

It's Friday, so time to dip into the Genea-Musings mailbag and highlight helpful and interesting reader comments.  This week's crop includes:

1)  On Using MyHeritage Record Matches for 1900 U.S. Census Records (1 May 2013):

*  Delia Furrer asked:  "How long does it take to get the smart and record matches if you are new to the site and a Premium Member? You received your new census matches fast. I am wondering if I have done something incorrect."

*  Nancy noted:  "I'm right there with you Delia . Partly because of Randy's reviews of the product and after watching the MyHeritage RootsTech presentation I decided to purchase it.  It's been 15 days and I still have seen no Record Matches and support requests have take 7 days each for MyHeritage support to reply and still nothing is working. 

"My file won't sync and it isn't finding record matches ... it's now been 3 days since I've heard back from them.  I sure am disappointed."

*  Robbhaas said:  "I have been waiting 3 weeks with no record matches and very poor customer service - long delays - their last communication stated it would take a "few weeks" to get any record matches - My GedCom is small, 4400 people - unlike Randy's whose is 40,000+ - Can't say I am very impressed with MyHeritage."

*  Aaron offered:  "Hi Delia, Nancy and Rob. I work for MyHeritage and will ask our technical support team to contact you."

My comments:  Thank you all for commenting, and I'm glad that Aaron saw them and will, hopefully, help you out with the Record Matches.  

I don't know how long it takes to add Record Matches to a MyHeritage tree.  I was one of the "beta testers" for Record Matches, and they were already done when I started working with them before they were announced.  It is a big job, I think.  I don't know if they did my Census Record Matches before the census records were announced - they might have.  It would be helpful if MyHeritage provided some indication of when Record Matches would appear after a user uploads a tree or purchases a data subscription.  

*  Anonymous said:  "MyHeritage does NOT have a complete 1940 census index yet.  You can see what states it has complete, which it is working on, and which it still has to begin indexing by going to and then clicking on "See available states and territories."

My comment:  Thanks for the information.  I was told recently that they have 96% of the 1940 Census indexed and available, and the last 4% will be online soon.  Perhaps MyHeritage needs to update their chart.

3)  On Modifying Data in FamilySearch Family Tree Using RootsMagic 6 (25 April 2013):
*  Devon Lee said:  "I'm glad to know that RootsMagic 6 can add an event, but it is not asking for why. I thought the Family Tree format was requiring why statements. Skipping this step speeds things up. Yet, I question whether RootsMagic users should be allowed to skip this step when website users are not."

*  Michael McCormick answered:  "Two comments: It does ask why. Look at the screenshot with the pop up that mentions replacing data; look at the bottom field. Neither system requires it, and perhaps it is less eye catching in RootsMagic.

"On a different note, my most recent problems:  It does not always add the people I try to add.

"RootsMagic does not create standards inside Family Tree for the facts you edit or add. One immediately apparent downside is that children are out of order because of having no standard date."

*  Keith Riggle noted:  "I've been holding off using FS Family Tree until there's a sync capability. I'm glad RootsMagic can sync with it, but it's still too rudimentary for me. Having to add all my sources by hand is a non-starter, especially since doing so in Family Tree is so cumbersome. I'd like to see something as slick as syncing trees between and Family Tree Maker. Still waiting..."

*  Geolover offered:  " of your points was 'Unfortunately, these changes or additions have to be made one event at a time using RootsMagic. At present, there is no method to upload a set of people to the Family Tree by pressing one button (like with a GEDCOM file).'

"Freestanding genealogical programs could be designed to add a family group, once it was determined that no duplicates already were in the database.  However, unbridled addition of GEDCOM files is one of the features that has made the database in both new.FamilySearch and FamilySearch-Family Tree such a mess, with duplicates, erroneous data, erroneous family connections, etc. Indeed, n.FS began with part of its database being such uploaded GEDCOM files.

"At least at present, FamilySearch's preventing such unfiltered uploads to FT minimizes the amount of erroneous and duplicate data that can be added. However, there have been and will continue to be massive errors installed by the determined user of programs that can interface with the FT.

"The use of such programs which speed up the entry process is not necessarily an actual enhancement, since so many personal tree compilers (the vast majority) have not based their data on evidentiary research.

"The designers of FS-FT appear to have a lot of faith that over time the tree will vector toward accuracy. Time will tell whether this belief will be borne out."

*  Rick said:  "You wrote, 'At present, there is no method to upload a set of people to the Family Tree by pressing one button (like with a GEDCOM file).' You can upload a GEDCOM file for inclusion in the Pedigree Resource File and copy the information into Family Tree. However, notes, sources and multimedia links in your GEDCOM file cannot be added to Family Tree. See 'Uploading GEDCOM Files and Copying the Information to Family Tree.'

"The URL for "Uploading GEDCOM Files and Copying the Information to Family Tree" is

"A PDF version of that file is easier to read: Uploading GEDCOM Files and Copying the Information into Family Tree"

My comments:  Thank you all for helpful and challenging  comments.  

*  Missy asked:  "I'm getting confused with all of the online family tree programs and was wondering if you had a preference for one over another. Right now, I've been using (so expensive) and I'm not sure if one day when I may not be able to afford to continue with their subscription that I won't be able to see even my own family tree that I've been working on for so long.

"I'm not sure I like the idea of WikiTree or FamilySearch, where it's one tree that all people work on. What is your take on those types of trees? And how do you find the time to put up multiple trees. 

"This is beginning to feel like insaneness (if that's a word)."

My comment:  It is difficult to choose.  Because of what I do, I test quite a few of the software programs and online trees, and write about them, often in a series of posts in an effort to straighten it out in my own mind and to provide information to readers.  

My opinion is that genealogy software programs (like RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Maker for Windows), offer much more capability and ease of use than online family trees.  If a software program offers a synchronization to an online tree, that's a bonus.  My recommendation is to pick one software or online tree program, and stick with it.  If a much better program comes along, you can download a GEDCOM file from your Ancestry tree and import it into the better program or tree.

If you do not renew your Ancestry subscription, you will still have access to your Ancestry Member Tree as a registered member.  You can still work on it, but you will not be able to attach records to it using Ancestry Hints.  It would be a good idea for you to download a GEDCOM file of your Ancestry Member Tree from time to time, however.

Having a "separate" family tree online (like on Ancestry or MyHeritage) or having a "unified" family tree online (like WikiTree, Geni, or FamilySearch Family Tree) is a user's choice.  I like having control of my "separate" tree, but I love the idea of collaboration with other researchers on a unified family tree.  FamilySearch Family Tree has the potential to be wonderful, IF many researchers contribute to it with sources and open minds.  We will see!

5)  On (Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Post 254: Devier J. Smith in Concordia, Kansas, 1885 (1 May 2013):

*  Geolover noted:  "What he is holding in his right hand is mysterious. A riding crop would not be so thin and would be shorter than the length shown in the image -- with a handle having a loop (think the sort of thing many umbrellas have).

"A fly-fishing rod? I am not sure any were made of metal at that time, and I see no 'eyes' for the line.  Fencing foil? It would not be held that way.  Something to do with his occupation?"

*  Mike offered in email:  "You've got an interesting photograph of D.J. Smith.  I suggest that it is not a riding crop, but a driving whip.  It's a small difference, but it suggests to me that he was used to driving a horse and buggy (and perhaps proud of his driving skills). Secondly, the tokens on the watch chain suggest that he was a mason of some degree higher than 3rd degree."

My comments:  Thank you both for interesting suggestions.  I think Mike is probably right.  Devier J. Smith had grown up in the livery stable at his father's inn in Dodge County, Wisconsin.  He was in the livery business from the 1870s to the 1890s according to several newspaper articles and census entries, but also was a farmer and a speculator.  He was also a mason - I have an image of a Mason card with his name on it.

6)  Thank you all for reading and commenting on Genea-Musings.  I know that I don't know "everything" and am happy to be corrected and/or helped out.  

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


Robbhaas said...

Thanks for all you do for the Genealogy community. Your in-depth analysis of various software and online database companies have helped me on several occasions.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Randy for highlighting our concerns about MyHeritage, no one has contacted me as of yet but we really shouldn't need your help to get a support email returned for PremiumPlus members.

Yes- I think you are right they should have made sure that Beta testers / bloggers not make it sound like to their readers that matches happen quickly and they should certainly send new Premium members a timeline they can expect for matches to appear.

They are selling their product based on enthusiasm generate by " searching while you sleep " so it’s no wonder folks are disappointed weeks later when nothing has happened and they can get no response from the company –spending $200 is a lot and people expect something in return.

The other suggestion I would make to them ( beside educating customers ) is HIRE support staff open a live chat …something !

Thanks again, Randy


Robbhaas said...

I agree with Nancy and will add that I have not heard from them either but that is par for the course with this company it seems. My experience has been, so far, that their web site is vague and misleading and their customer service is among the poorest in the industry. According to the "benefits" of having a Premium Plus account is "Priority Customer Service" to this point (3+ weeks) I have not experienced that level of service. All I asked for was honesty. First they told me I would get record matches in 2 or 3 days and then last week they said it would be a "few weeks." What's next, a few months?