Why do data doctors only work one issue?

+32 votes
Once again, this morning I saw a profile that has been edited several times by several data doctors.   One person removed USA from place names, one person corrected the missing <references/>, one person corrected a location for death, that then created an error, so another person removed USA, and the profile still needs cleaning after a merge.

Would it be more effective for one person to correct all the items?
in Policy and Style by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (576k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
Interesting.  I don't belong to the project, but I do correct errors sometimes, usually in the region where I have expertise, and generally only with orphaned profiles (with few exceptions).  Sometimes I fix every error associated with a profile; sometimes I choose to ignore one that is more difficult, such as figuring out why a parent might be too young to have a child.  It depends on my mood, or upon how intriguing (or how difficult) it is to search for information.  In the case of the profile you mention, if I noticed that it had problems and I was in the mood to work on it, I'd clean it myself.
I work on specific error codes with the goal of driving the numbers down on the weekly error report. I do make some other edits, if I can, when I see them. For over a year, I have tracked the codes that I work on and overall have seen a 10%+ drop and feel that I have accomplished something for the overall quality of the data. What is discouraging is to see so many "new" errors appearing each week despite the automatic warnings issued when someone keys in a new profile. I've determined that the bulk of new new errors are still coming from Gedcom uploads and apparently the managers never go back and look at the profiles that they have created.

I was thinking the same thing as Dale posted already regarding Suggestions as I read through the answers and comments.

I also think the way Contributions are counted encourages many Wikitreers to correct only one error at a time, saving after each correction,  to get the max number of Contrbution points.

I actually feel a bit guilty about making multiple changes to any of my profiles -- that it might be perceived as trying to gain more contribution points. So I try to lump all my changes together when I can.

But at the same time, I come from a software coding background, and lumping too many changes together can be bad for debugging when things go wrong, or when separate features need to be temporarily backed out. Old habits.

I'm from a software development background, too, so I know exactly what you mean! It's a fine balance, for sure.
Yep - I've got a rule never to leave an open edit page. If I leave the page, I save first.
Well this question came back from the grave. This is why I often open up the status before doing the profile to see if there are multiple suggestions.
I have seen many status' marked as corrected yet when you look at the changes page there were no changes made that is why I never go to the status first, it keeps me on the right track, I make the change then go set the status.  However, when I get to the status if I find others that I feel qualified to fix I will usually fix those before I leave that profile.
You actually get a point for each error even if you do them all in the same visit to a profile as each has a different status button or link on the status page

Some folks are comfortable with fix just one type of suggestion error others will fix everything including writing a biography.

We all should be careful not to create another suggestion through our work to "fix" a profile

17 Answers

+30 votes
Best answer
Some Date Doctors do not yet have the experience to know how to check an entire profile for the many different items that could be worked on.  So these people focus on only what is on the suggestion list they are working from.  It keeps them from worrying that they might mess something up while they are editing.

We have many people who do this and I applaud their effort.  As they gain experience, they can branch out and do more.
by Emma MacBeath G2G6 Pilot (611k points)
selected by Anne Farrar
+31 votes
The challenges tend to concentrate on a small set of issues each. The error reports the Data Doctors work off are by specific error number, so the person might not be aware of other issues when they start work. (When marking the error as fixed the person is asked were these other errors fixed too, but I think they might be restricted to that challenge's group of errors.)

The way the challenges work might encourage blinkered vision unfortunately

by Tim Partridge G2G6 Mach 2 (29.2k points)
I'm just here to say that not all Data Doctors work with blinders on. I NEVER do. It is my experience that most people work like me and clean up whatever needs cleaning up.
I agree with you!
+29 votes
Agree it would be nice if all the editorial errors were corrected at once, yes.

But for example - this week's challenge is Uncleaned after merge profiles. I'm working on pre-1500 French and so far, it seems that half of them come with a serious data error like "parent too young or not born" or " parent died before birth" and I won't go into that in the context of a challenge. They're nearly all unsourced as well.
by Isabelle Martin G2G6 Pilot (320k points)
+30 votes
Above, Tim mentioned that the Data Doctors challenges focus on a theme. A few weeks ago the theme was "fix references" (the ref+/ref kind and the missing references/ tag). Some Data Doctors seem to focus on the challenge only. Some, like myself, tend to visit the profile and fix everything they can fix at that time, including adding sources if they can find them. Neither approach is wrong, in both cases, the tree is improved.
by Julie Campbell G2G6 Mach 1 (16.9k points)
+14 votes
I believe that part of the problem is the suggestions themselves. For every item you mentioned each has a separate Suggestion for correction so if you see the one for missing <references/> tag you may not see the others. The challenges may also tend to make the Data Doctors focus on a very narrow issue. The challenges seem like a good thing but we should look deeply at the big picture if we really want quality work done and not try to fix somethings too quickly.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
+26 votes
I agree with what the others have said about working on a specific set of error codes for a given challenge.

Even though the status button of the Suggestions Report will usually show all the other errors at the same time, some errors are just more difficult to correct than others, and require much more research. I, personally, tend to put off the harder problems until later.
by Dennis Wheeler G2G6 Pilot (464k points)
Thanks for your honesty!
Old thread but I'd like to add to Dennis' comment.  With a newborn sitting in my left arm, I can only data doctor with one arm so errors that I can change solely by using a mouse (cut and paste) get my attention whereas those that require typing get put off until another time.
+20 votes
When I doctor, I correct as many errors on the profile as I can find. It's just a more efficient use of time.
by Natalie Trott G2G6 Pilot (585k points)
+31 votes
Would it be more effective to have one person work all the suggestions on a profile? Maybe, if that person had the experience and expertise to work all the suggestions.

Merge cleanup, born after parent's death, born before parent, etc., are suggestions that takes both. I know that i don't have the expertise to work a lot of those. I do work Merge Cleanups, but only tackle those when I have a fresh brain and plenty of time. Most of the other errors, like removing the USA, adding <ref coding, etc, are quick and easy. Those can be done while I have an extra five minute here and there.

Does it create more edits on an individual profile? Sure.
Is the work spread between us so that everyone can have a hand in improving our tree? Yep.

Data Doctors, like all the rest of us, are volunteers. They do what they can in the time they have. The Goal, at the end of the day, is to improve profiles. How we get there is just part of the process.
by Debi Hoag G2G6 Pilot (252k points)
You are so right, the power of many will always be greater than the power of a few.
+14 votes

For me, it depends on what amount of time I have.

I only work the Swedish ones, don't do the weekly challenge and if I don't have much time I work the simple ones, like adding <references/>. Sometimes I clean up a bio too, if needed, but don't do any research. That I save for those days that I have more time to dig into a profile.

I usually add location categories and the unsourced template if it is needed but that is not part of the Data Doctoring part, it's just to make it easier to find them for other researchers.

Sometimes I add an profile to my to-do-list so that I can come back to it later and help with research for example.

by Maggie Andersson G2G6 Mach 9 (93k points)
+12 votes
It could be that they are just working on one category. I will do all the clean up that I feel qualified to do. that is the easy stuff. If it is a case of actually having to do some research in an area I am not familiar with, I will leave that for a more qualified person.
by Dawn Ellis G2G6 Mach 8 (81.9k points)
That is exactly what I do!
+12 votes
Depends on the error and how much time I have.

For example, if I'm cleaning up a bio after a merge, I'll usually also expand location abbreviations, remove USA from pre-1776 dates, add a source or add the Unsourced template, and move what are clearly middle names from the first name field to the middle name field. Errors that take more research, though, I'm unlikely to work on unless I have a personal interest in the profile or I can find a resolution by spending five seconds searching on FamilySearch.

If I'm correcting a minor text error and I see that the profile needs post-merge cleanup, I'll do the clean up if it's simple. But if it's one of these gnarly merges with repeated sources on every single fact and takes ten minutes of copy/paste/scroll up and down just to consolidate each kind of fact, then if I'm short on time I'll skip it. (Especially if I'm doing a challenge and haven't reached my goal for the challenge focus.) It'll still be there later when I'm working on post-merge bio cleanups.

As far as effectiveness goes, it's often less effective for me to switch between different kinds of error corrections in one session. I know I'm likely to go off down rabbit holes, so I try to stay focused on the error I'm working on.
by Sharon Casteel G2G6 Pilot (103k points)
+10 votes
I can answer for what I personally do.   I try to fix any error showing in the status screen IF I can.  Sometimes the error is something that is going to require a great deal of time and research and If I do not have the time then, I make a note of it and move on intending to go back later.  I have several like that I have been working on for a while. Often they are profiles that have so many tentacles into other profiles that you have to stop and see what all is being affected.   So I do what I can at the time.  

Sometimes there are new errors that have come out and I have not had time to learn how to work them.  So I might do the errors I am familiar with and once again make a note intending to go back and fix the other parts later.  

Sometimes everything works out and I can clear all the errors showing on the status report.  That is the optimum way to work with errors but some of the errors out there are really messy ones.
by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (577k points)
+13 votes

I work through the Suggestions Report each week (Australia) regardless of whatever Challenge might be happening during that week.  I just choose an area I want to work on and then work my way through each profile listed.  Sometimes there are Suggestions for other errors to be fixed on the same profile.  These can be done (and I think should be done) at the same time.  Then all the Suggestions for that particular profile for that week have been completed.  If someone else has already made the correction it will show as completed on the Status (if they marked the Status, sometimes people are just fixing something they see and don't make reference to the Status). If you are not working from the Suggestions Report and  you have fixed an error and saved, before taking the profile back to the profile page,  look on the top of the Edit page of the profile and you will see a button 'Challengers Tracker' ( I think that is correct name) anyway, if you click this button, the Challenges Tracker page will open, with a box named 'Related Suggestions' - click on the Status button to the right and another page will open where you can select the Status for the error you have completed. You can select what you have done, so it is marked for others to see. Also there is a little ? mark at the end of the Suggestion Name for example:.  835 Local file reference Help

If you click onto the ? a new page will open giving information about the Suggestion.  (Sorry but my instructions are probably as clear as mud!)

I think the most important thing is for everyone to check their own Suggestions Report each week and complete the Suggestions. If you don't know where it find it go to the tab MyWikitree  and in the drop down menu you will find Suggestions. If you click onto 'Show Suggestions in profile managed by (your name)', it will bring up the all the current Suggestions.

Also on any profile (even if you are not the profile manager) if you go to the 2nd tab from the left (the profile's ID name & number) you will find Suggestions in the drop down menu (at the bottom). If you click  on to this it will bring up the Suggestions for all profiles related to this person, regardless of who the profile manager is.

Hope this is of some help, Be careful, once you start working on the Suggestions Report, it can become addictive !  Diane

by Diane Darcy G2G6 Mach 1 (18.3k points)
Thanks for adding your knowledge on how to find one's own "Suggestions". If every active profile manager were to do that just think how many suggestions could be cleaned up!

Awesome suggestion Darcy!
+10 votes
I work on errors for the whole tree in the Challenges.    I do correct what I see while I am in the profile.  It's a bit frustrating to update the status for that error and THEN find other unrelated errors (so they aren't limited to that particular challenge).  At that point I am usually ready to move onto another profile.
by Cindy Cooper G2G6 Mach 6 (64.5k points)
+12 votes
I don't know about the other Data Doctors but I try to correct the challenged suggestions we are working on for a particular week, then I take it a step further by correcting all suggestions listed on the profile and before I completely close the profile, I add sources to backup all corrections. It is on rare occasion that I leave a suggestion for others to correct.  

Data Doctors are supposed to leave notes on what they did and where they looked if a suggestion is left for others to correct.

In my humble opinion:

The Data Doctors participate for the most part, in a thankless job (especially if one is working on Orphaned Profiles) and they are often the recipients of a lot of scorn by those who they are attempting to help.

We no longer call it an Error Report but a "Suggestion Report", so give us the benefit of a doubt, think about the time a stranger spends correcting your profiles before you jump on them for not correcting everything, a thank you goes a long way in keeping the Data Doctors enthusiasm up to continue this task.

Thank you for allowing me to voice my opinion and remember, the Data Doctors could spend their time researching their own profiles instead of helping others.  :)
by Loretta Corbin G2G6 Mach 7 (78.7k points)
And thank you Loretta for doing a tedious and thankless task and for working on the whole tree. I am working on Generation 11 of "my" family tree and it has over 1,000 errors/suggestions. You can work on those anytime you want to and hit the "Save" button as many times as you like. Most of those suggestions ARE in fact errors! Keep on doing what you do!
Thank you Loretta, you are appreciated, please continue with the wonderful work you do. I know each week when I view the Suggestions Report it can be so overwhelming to see the amount that needs to be done.
It is a labor of love.  :)
+11 votes
Funny, I just got bawled out by a profile manager for fixing more than "just" the locations.  I fix obvious things when I'm in there.  Lots of times I add "Unsourced" if warrented.  I don't always go looking for tedious research work when I'm doing easier stuff.  Might be more "efficient" but it doesn't always fit my time frame.
by Kim Williams G2G6 Mach 2 (20.8k points)
you can't please everybody :)
lol, I don't even try to please everybody anymore, I do what I feel is the right thing for the profile and if the PM accepts it fine, if they don't, that's still fine...I just won't work on their profiles anymore   :)  funny how they quickly change their minds...
+10 votes
I agree with both the last two responses.  I think many of the individuals working with data doctors come from an IT developers background and that teaches us to make one change, validate, repeat.  I also try to strike a balance knowing that this process drives up contribution points.  But,  sometimes we are trying  to drive down the numbers on one particular type of error and working a list quickly,  other times we might see that we have other errors that could be addressed while we are there and spend more time on each profile.  Depends,  as previously mentioned,  on mood, or time available.
by Lynn Wiggers G2G6 Mach 1 (15.5k points)
It's all about a labor of love for me, and trying to make WikiTree the Very Best it can be. Besides, I think you earn more points when you post on the G2G, the one place I try to just read and not chat on.  lol

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