Friday, August 16, 2013

Follow-Up Friday - This Week's Interesting and Helpful Reader Comments

Here are some of the helpful and interesting reader comments on Genea-Musings posts from this past week:

1)  On Member Tree Changes (posted 11 August 2013):

*  Elizabeth H. said:  "I noticed this suggestion to try out the new feature and chose to click on it today to try it out. I like this new feature because I can see the details of a person without clicking all the way into the person's edit page.

"One aspect that you didn't note is that if you hover your cursor between the tree and the "preview card" in the right-hand column, a thick green line appears. If you click it, that individual preview column "hides." You can make it reappear by moving your cursor to the far right and finding and clicking on that thick green line again."

*  Pamela D. Lloyd noted:  "I also had to check this out and, initially, I didn't see the option. But, as I moved back and forth between the Home page and Tree pages, the option became available.

"Overall, I like it, because it gives me more information about an ancestor when I'm on the tree page, as well as the opportunity to review hints without leaving the tree page. For a short while, I was concerned about the loss of space when viewing the tree, but then I discovered that when you hover to the left of the new profile panel, a green bar appears; click the bar, and the panel closes. Move your mouse over to the far right of the page, and the green bar appears again; this time, when you click it, it will open the panel."

*  Geolover commented:  'Randy, you noted: '9) My first impression after using this was: "They've made it a lot easier to attach Hints to a Person Profile - it seems faster to attach several Hints now." But it probably isn't...I still have to 'Review' and 'Save' and wait for it to happen.

"My second impression was: 'Hmmm, maybe that's not a really good idea. Don't we want users to thoughtfully add Hints to their tree, and add sources too?' But then, adding the Hint does add a source (albeit of not Evidence Explained quality).'

"I agree with your reservation with an additional reason: it skips the step where one has access to the actual image (where available) of the item that will be saved-to-tree. I advocate **always** looking at the image, where there may be a contraindication for saving, or interesting/surprising additional information (in City Directories, maybe occupation or death, or same-surnamed persons living in the same place -- which may or may not be indexed).

"There has been some comment on this new stuff on message boards. It was first rolled out with a little blue banner saying "see sidebar" but the link did not always work. There appears to have been some twiddling with it."

*  Jacqi Stevens added:  "Randy, the changes do look promising, but I'm with you on the 'Hints' issue. No matter how easy Ancestry makes it to add hints to a tree, I've learned to always proceed with great caution, review the hint thoroughly, and double check before adding it to my tree."

My comments:  Thank you all for trying it out if you had access to it.  Ancestry contacted me with the "fix" after this was posted, and noted that this potential feature was being beta tested as we speak.  I just happened to find it and blog about it.  If you are able to use this feature, then you should provide feedback directly to Ancestry using the Feedback button they provide on the screen.

My thanks to Ancestry for helping me "recover" this feature, and I still like it a lot for the reasons stated in my blog post and by the commenters above.

2)  On Using the Web Tags Feature in RootsMagic 6 (13 August 2013):

*  Ben commented:  "Web Tags are also synchronized with URLs on FamilySearch Family Tree sources if you're synchronizing RootsMagic with Family Tree.

"Here's a post that at least talks a little about this:  "

My comment:  Not exactly.  A WebTag in RootsMagic 6 does transfer to the FamilySearch Family Tree.  But a web tag in a Family Tree source does not go into the RootsMagic WebTags field - the Family Tree source does get added to RootsMagic 6 as a free-form source containing the website URL.

*  Robbhaas said:  "I use Web Tags for people and sources - What I like mainly is that fact that these tags are uploaded as part of the data in the 'Publish Online' feature.

"According to Bruce they intend to make web tags available for more areas of RM in the future.

"I do agree that it takes a lot of clicks to get to and from some of the Web Tags especially the source citation ones and hopefully that will be fixed at some point."

My comment:  Excellent point about the "Publish Online feature.  Another column on the "Edit Person" screen for an Event/Source WebTag (like Note, Source and Media) would streamline the input procedure, I think.

*  Robbhaas added:  "There is a webinar about Web Tags - Webinar #44 on the RM webinar page"

My comment:  Thanks, I missed that!

*  Kim Mills helped:  "I do use Web Tags and find them quite useful. I prefer to keep links to online pages about the person there, rather then my browser bookmarks menu.

"I do hope that it becomes possible to enter a Web Tag once then link it to the person, source, and research log instead of having to copy it to each.

"I did find that you can enter a link to a file on your pc hard drive and it will open it as well.
Family Tree Maker has a web tag feature, but my RM tags do not import into it properly. I end up with a number of empty web tag events/facts."

My comment:  Very helpful tips - thanks!

*  Jacqi Stevens disserted:  "Randy, I am not a professional genealogist--nor do I play one on TV ;)  However, I can understand why such a topic generates so much frustrated discussion.

"If a person has come from an academic background (and, after all, isn't that where the whole concept of 'research' comes from?!) or has been trained in that discipline, that writer understands the liberties given in pursuing making one's point:

"+ The writer makes an assertion (hypothesis, thesis, or whatever you want to call it), then writes a defense of that position.

"+ In the body of that defense is usually found several supporting statements, often taken from the academic works of others, usually authorities. 

"+ When specific wordings from those older works are used in limited segments by the new writer, they are quoted and attributed to the originator of the statement.

"That's what footnotes are for. They give readers a chance to go back to the source document and check it out to see for themselves if what the subsequent writer has said is correct.

"Those footnotes also help notify other new researchers of the specifics of older works. End result: more people are now informed about that original study and may even purchase the original book or report, if it is available for sale.

"That process is considered an academic license ('fair use') that so many of us in our culture have taken for granted. It is a liberty we have mutually consented to take--even though the original work was copyrighted material. It, in effect, points the way back to that original, groundbreaking study or observation.

"Not so for those of us researching genealogy, if we wish to share a quote from a historic newspaper--if we just so happen to have found that newspaper column via one of the subscription services everyone is discussing.

"The problem here is that it puts a bottleneck on the flow of information, which eventually creates a backflow for which roadblock the typical person will seek a work-around. Unfortunately, these very companies themselves seem only to provide untenable resolutions for this dilemma.

"Granted, the individual user is not one who has the resources to fight monolithic 'powers that be' in the name of fair use. But from all the signs of resentment sparked by bringing up such a topic, it's evident that we still live very much in a culture that still considers it a right to quote with proper attribution--no matter what story the online providers assert grants them otherwise."

My comment:  Thanks, Jacqi, for the discussion.  For me, the "fallback" is "fair use."  I can quote, with attribution, a portion of what I find, or perhaps all of a short article.  If the original newspaper is not protected by copyright, I can transcribe the whole thing.  This debate really concerns the image - a full page image or an image of just the specific article in question.  

*  Judy Russell corrected me:  "Just one note of clarification because of the blog title. These are not COPYRIGHT issues. They are CONTRACT issues. Terms of use arise in the context of a contract between the website and its user. Copyright is law adopted by the Congress. The two may have similar constraints -- but contract law may impose much more stringent restrictions than copyright law requires."

My comment:  Point taken.  note to self:  sanity-check your blog post title too!

*  T noted:  "I was SO excited to find Wyoming County New York included in the wills to browse. And then I started browsing the 1,903 images and realized Browse was the word. They are in no order, just whatever page got picked up next, I guess. I gave up. I have browsed those kinds of lists before. At the end of the collection I had wasted 3 days and had nothing. So this one will just be there for someone to browse but it won't be me. If it were even alphabetized or by year or something!"

My comment:  Please don't give up!  There may be an Index in each Volume.  Try to find the index if there is one - at the beginning or end of the volume.  I checked Volume 1 for Wyoming county and there is no index.  However, there is an index in the "Wills, 1841-1859 Vol 1-2" volume.  So some volumes have indexes and some do not.  When they don't, it's page-to-page as you noted.  

Collections like this would make an excellent indexing project for a local or county genealogical society.  The index could be put on the county USGenWeb site, or put online on a society blog, or printed and sold to interested parties, or provided to FamilySearch to include in the collection, and really help researchers.  

*  Karmen Jones said:  "Hello, Our sincerest apologies about your recent experience. We appreciate your feedback and would like to make things right, please contact Karmen via email at so we can help you obtain a refund for charges you have incurred."

My comment:  If you were one of the persons who complained about this site, please avail yourself of this option.  I didn' I don't need to obtain a refund.  Interested parties should read my blog post and all of the comments made by readers.

6)  That's it for the week of exciting Genea-Musings commentary.  These commenters were able to defeat the dreaded and malicious Captcha system which really works well finding spam comments.  Congratulations and thank you to my readers who succeed.

copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

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