FamilySearch software is great but....

+11 votes

.. you need to give it a bit of time for best results!

I've long been a fan and user of FamilySearch, however I have also kept my own records as a backup as it's too easy for folks to move/change things (without research) cos things just "fit"

I've met some lovely folks along the way, and had great discussions .. however recently I'm now eternally grateful for both FamilySearch "hints" and my own notes .. and now of course the WT honour code  (although that too has failed recently by coming across a profile which cannot be properly edited (sources attached) )

example: Have just spent a lovely 48 hours trying to unravel emigrant Campbells/McDonalds/McPhersons from Scotland  to USA/Canada.. I'm quite frankly saddened about the misinformation that is around and the FamilySearch  site which now has sources attached to folk who don't even have the same names! (so throws up misinformed hints, not their fault) 

Folks.. in Scotland the Mothers' surname (if recorded) is like gold dust, you should believe that over anything else .. often the fathers first (and last) name will differ but usually the Mother's name will remain constant bar any actual nicknames(first name) mispellings (last name)  - say the surname out loud and if it's close then it's a possible

McFarland could be McFarline or Macfarlane it could not be McIntyre or McDonald.. yes seriously that is some of the attachments of sources I found on familysearch just because the Husband and First name of wife and time frame fitted

also note: I found two couples with the exact same first and last names each, and 2 x different marriages 5 years apart in the same Parish (so having children at the same time in that Parish for a wee while)  - they are different couples.. 1 of them having emigrated to USA, the other staying in Scotland .. very hard to assign the children to the right couple as they often have similar names, however cannot assume either way ..

ref the above example: Someone had combined the families and attached both marriages to the one couple which then confused the lovely FS algorithm making it throw up wrong duplicates .  same named children born a few years apart each with their own descendants.. very obviously 2 couples 

In my experience if you're unsure you make 2 different couples and attach the 2 different dates  to them .. leave it for a wee while and let FS do it's magic, please don't try to "force fit" 

also  if you can find resources (of emigrant colonies)  that give details of descendants once they reached their destination but specifically state they are not sure of ancestry, then I would be (grateful firstly!) but rest assured that someone has checked the ancestry and do not assume just because you find a same name couple (even in the same location) that it is the same one.. nothing should ever be assumed without sources 

My Family is Scottish/Irish and we are still here (though with many  emigrant descendants) I still do not assume ancestors unless they're provable, I don't see that that should be different for overseas descendants, in fact it should be an asset that there are still "local" folks left who understand the history and "parishes"  

I know this isn't perfect as the mothers name is not always known, and you can't always infer from the naming convention from the children .. however if you can't prove it, please don't force it .. enter what you have and wait for "hints" and/or keep entering what you can find against the name you're sure of 

Hope that helps, and sorry for the rant. I'm very impressed with the FS (FDS) algo and the participation in general yes

The Apprecitaion here is for the FS algo, it's amazing!

in Appreciation by Claire C G2G2 (2.9k points)

2 Answers

+5 votes
One thing I've noticed about Family Search is that not all the hints will show up immediately, so you have an excellent point in getting as much done as you can in a FS profile and source attachments, then giving it a bit of time to percolate. There's something in their internal hint engine that requires at least an overnight cycle (maybe more) and then it spits out additional matches that you wouldn't have found the first pass. I've also noticed their search processes don't always have a great alternative spelling or sounding process in place, and as such, it often misses a few unless you add a few variants in there to help it out.

For example, I was looking for a unique name "Hurwitch" the other day, and it failed to pull up a match for "Hurrwitch". I would have thought that would have been a reasonable enough variant, but apparently the FS algorithm didn't. Don't get me wrong - FS is a great tool, but it has some limitations and being aware of them will definitely improve your experience with it.
by Scott Fulkerson G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+7 votes
I totally understand and sympathize with your frustration! I am still fairly new to genealogy, and have had quite an education concerning the importance of proper sourcing and documentation.

I make extensive notes on the profiles I manage here at Wikitree. (I only use Familysearch to look for sources and evidence, and don't contribute to any profiles there.) If the only information I can find for any detail is unsourced, I will say so in the notes. I will also give detailed explanations of any discrepancies I find and describe what I have done to try to resolve them. (This is partly for my own benefit so I can see what I've already done when I go back to a profile, and partly for the next person who might come along trying to research the same thing.) And I usually put a note to the effect that if anyone has knowledge beyond mine or has found new information either supporting or contrary to what I've laid out, I would appreciate their letting me know.

I am also not above speculating, although I make sure to clearly state when I am doing so. One example of this (in case anyone is interested) has to do with the identity of the father of my third great-grandmother's children ( This is one tangle I have declared to be a genuine Doozy(tm). (That's an unofficial genealogical term I have adopted.)

It's very frustrating to see that people all over the various genealogy sites just copy any old information they find, apparently without trying to verify it. In one instance it has gotten so pervasive that I'd estimate about 90 percent of the internet thinks the surnames Hoar and Eure are simply variants of one another, and thus connect and comingle the two families. I've been educated (politely but firmly) by experts on both the Hoar and the Eure families that there is no connection, and those folks spend a lot of their time playing genealogical "whack-a-mole," so to speak, trying to correct the errors.

But overall, I'm finding this endeavor to be one highly-addictive way of passing the time, and it's nice to be able to check in and compare notes with my fellow addicts. :) A while back I posted something about trying to determine the identity of the husband of my 6th cousin 4 times removed (which led to an epic Doozy) and someone replied that anywhere else, need for details on a 6th cousin 4 times removed would warrant serious consideration of one's mental health, but around here, it's just business as usual! :D
by Carolyn Comings G2G6 Mach 1 (15.8k points)

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