Best to enter data by hand or upload gedcom?

+7 votes
Is it best to enter data by hand or to upload a gedcom?  I have been trying to decide which would be best.


in WikiTree Tech by Sheri Bush G2G2 (2.6k points)
recategorized by Eowyn Walker

3 Answers

+8 votes
Best answer
Hi Sheri,

You could do a combination of both, easily. Uploading by GEDCOM is certainly quicker, but you definitely lose the personal touch of getting to know each ancestor. I really like being able to spend a few minutes, and be sure I like the way the profile page looks. Additionally, sometimes the GEDCOMs throw in extra coding and things that you will want to go in and take off the page just for aesthetics anywa

I like to keep my folks manageable, for sure. Perhaps upload your family a branch at a time, and then spend some  time polishing the profiles pages. Thats just my 2 cents on it :)

~tami, WikiTree Cousin Connector
by Tami Mize G2G6 Mach 4 (40.6k points)
selected by Keith Baker
Thank you, Tami.  I was wondering about extra coding as that has happened elsewhere.  
I also like the idea of getting to know each ancestor.  Having started over 20 years ago, that might be the best idea anyone has ever presented to me.  
Manageable sounds real good too!
Another benefit to doing it by hand is that it's easier to find matches if someone has already created a profile for a person in your tree. Possible matches will be shown to you when you manually create a new profile.
+7 votes

This is a good question, and I really do like Tami's reply.

My decision NOT to upload a GEDCOM to WikiTree was based on several things:

1) It seems there is often (always is too strong a word here) some glitch either in the creation or uploading of the G-file of which the user is unaware at the time of the action.  This can create dead-ends, etc. that they may be left undiscovered for some time.

2) While not as fast as I once was on the keyboard, it really does not take that long to upload by hand.  The real time-comsumers are the reseach and filing chores - usually.

3) This was the deal maker for me: This process is affording me an opportunity to create a new data-base, correcting errors and omissions as I go, and especially becoming re-acquainted with some ancestors, relatives and their histories that have been mostly forgotten or overlooked during the past couple of decades of searching the lines.

So, I don't think there is a right or wrong answer to your question; just a matter of perspective and what works best for you.

by Keith Baker G2G6 Pilot (101k points)
These are good reasons, too! Especially #3 about fixing errors. My main reason for doing it by hand was that, prior to joining WikiTree, I never had all my research in one place before! Also, where I did have trees, I often had branches made in the days before I understood that not every family tree on the Internet is accurate! :) So putting everything in by hand was a nice fresh start.
Great answer, Keith!
I agree with Lianne. Also it is nice to refresh your memory about dead-ends and puzzles you left behind a while ago. It will sometimes give you new inspiration to dig deeper.
+3 votes
To me, GEDCOM is just another name for someone else's garbage. All too often that is exactly what they are, but even if you start with a good, well researched database, the GEDCOM will probably find some way to screw it up. Unfortunately, not all GEDCOMs are created equal, Despite the name "standard" it is anything but.

Consequently you run into problems such as I did a couple of days ago where members of my family were there, I could see them on a surname list, but I couldn't find them to merge. The reason was, the GEDCOM had used a single first name consisting of both first and middle names. I had to go in and correct the names before the merge could find them.

I have thousands of names in my database, but I know there are problems there. I'm not about to foist my problems on an unsuspecting group of amateurs who may take my word as gospel. The professionals would probably catch them, but why should I take up their time trying to weed through my errors? Besides, doing it one at a time forces me to do some much needed housekeeping, and besides, I don't need all those names here, at least not yet. I'm starting with my direct line and slowly branching out into the collateral lines as I get time. But, my data is clean, and sourced.
by Jim Walton G2G1 (1.1k points)
...and appreciated!  Thanks for your insights, Jim.

Whilst I agree with your comments on Gedcom being "standard" (or otherwise) and screwing things up, I would like to make the following observations: 

1. It is my experience that is is not the GEDCOM standard itself (it's a standard after all) but the genealogy programs that screw things up by not following the standard.

2. your initial sentence is condescending and insulting to those of us who have created our own tree (as I have) from scratch and are simply using the gedcom output to provide views to others, put it online, or publish using different programs.

3. I agree that we should not take the time of "professionals" to sort our gedcom errors, but on the other hand, I and my father have spent much time researching our family tree since I began it in 1982 from official certificates of B,D,M and OPRs, etc., so I have SOME confidence that the research has been diligent. Whatever the medium - paper, microfiche, computer tool - ultimately these days we will end up with an electronic repository in a particular format. If we can't exchange data without having to re-review each individual entry (now numbering many thousands) manually, then we are back in the dark ages. 

In summary, if you (we) have a problem with gedcom files, let's do one of two things. Either encourage the software tool developers to actually follow the gedcom standard, or get the standard tightened up.


Excellent points, Donald.  Thanks for sharing them here.yes

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