At the 2010 NGS Conference GenTech Luncheon David Rencher presented “The Top 10 Areas Where Technology Can Still Make a Real Difference in Genealogy : Could You Please Hurry?” In “We Want Tech and We Want It Now” I am reviewing Rencher’s requests and the technologies already available. Today I look at:
# 7 Highlight Flagrantly Erroneous Pedigrees
There is a lot of garbage pedigrees floating around the Internet.
Some have subtle mistakes—conclusions that changed over time as more records were discovered. Someone figures out the mistake and publishes an article, proving a new conclusion. In an ideal world, a single, global, common tree would contain all the good conclusions and we would be fine-tuning conclusions such as this kind.
In the real world, the garbage floating around the Internet is pathetic: impossible timelines, inconceivable parent-child relationships, and unimaginable fusions of facts. Decades ago, PAF and other pedigree managers became capable of detecting most of the flagrant fallacies we see online.
David Rencher, FamilySearch Chief Genealogical Officer asked, “Why can’t websites do the same?”
Many websites host online pedigrees: RootsWeb, Ancestry.com, One Great Family, Geni.com, and the new FamilySearch tree (NFS), to name a few. Rencher recommended that these websites take action to highlight erroneous pedigrees:
Personally, I find it immensely helpful just having RootsWeb World Connect’s icon indicating that source citations are present. I don’t bother looking at trees without the source icon.
Imagine how cool it would be if a website would intelligently assess the source quality!
Let users vote on the quality of the data.
Consider the example from Yahoo! Answers, to the left.
Note the “top contributor” badge underneath Ted Pack. So many people have agreed with Ted’s answers, that he’s earned a reputation. Yahoo displays that reputation along with his contributions.
Note that 118 people voted for Ted’s answer and 32 people voted for numbat’s. C-johnson awarded a 5-star rating and left a comment explaining her vote.
If I try to download a bad tree, WARN ME!
I think each tree displayed on the Internet ought to display a count of the number of pedigree errors and warnings present in the tree.
These suggestions seem straightforward to me. I think all of them could be implemented with today’s technology. OK, maybe not the automatic evaluation of source citations. But flagging their presence is within the capability of current technology.
Are these features you’d like to see on websites? What do you think? Leave a comment.