Tuesday, November 27, 2012

There simply aren't enough hours in the day

For some time, I've been contemplating creating a Public Member Tree on ancestry.com. Yesterday I uploaded a small gedcom file to use as a little test. It was created from Legacy using the default options, which essentially means everything would be included, except what was marked as private. Basically, I was trying to determine, and understand, how the data gets parsed and how it displays on a person's profile page.

The file consisted of just a few generations of Mom's ancestors and contained 58 people. Within seconds of uploading the gedcom there appeared 57 ancestry hints! A few minutes later 21 of those people had a total of 194 hints. What is that figure going to be if I upload a database of 5000 dead people? More than a little overwhelming, I think.

I perused about half of those hints and didn't discover any new information. In fact, the stories and photos that I viewed were from my blog or stuff I've shared over the years with other people. The record hints were mostly census records.

As far as how the data displayed - at first it didn't make a lot of sense.  I may not like it, but I think I now understand why it is done the way it is. 

I was somewhat concerned about the General Notes and Research Notes that I've got in my Legacy file. There's stuff in those Notes that I don't particularly want to share just yet. In the past that was where I put "temporary" information. When I had access to the internet for research and I'd find something it would go there until I got around to reviewing it and entering it into the events or facts for the individual. I've just never gotten back to it. Notes are also where I put the stuff that has not been "proven" to my satisfaction along with thoughts and analysis. Rather like a "holding bin" of sorts. Where other people might have piles of paper on their desk, I've got bunches of notes. The result is the same, it all just sits there waiting for that wonderful time called "round-toit" to show up.

Thankfully, the General Notes and Research Notes in Legacy went into a "Notes" area on the ancestry online tree that appears to be hidden. There is a notation on that screen that "Notes can only be viewed by the owner and by those invited to the tree as an "Editor."

Handling of events was a little strange, I thought.

Events were added to the online tree using the Event Name, Description, Date, and Place as they were in Legacy, which is good. But the "Notes" that I've added for each Legacy event went into an area that is available only by clicking on the "Unsourced Citations" link.

After clicking on the name of the Source Citation another screen displays and you have to click on "(view source details)" to see the entire citation. 

This is where the detail information for the source is displayed. If any "Comments" have been added in Legacy regarding the source, they are included in the "Notes" area of the "Source Information" screen. 

This is the screen that displays when you click on the "Unsourced Citations" link of an event. The text in the  "Other Information" area is the notes that were entered in Legacy for that particular event.

That's a lot of clicking... will anyone click through all those screens to see the details or additional information? Doubtful.

After 2 hours of viewing various people and screens, the test tree was deleted. It had been a long time since I had created a gedcom from Legacy so I spent a little time looking at the options. In the test gedcom, I left the options at the default, which basically means everything would be included, except that marked as private.  But there is a little button in the lower right corner that says "customize." Clicking on that button brings up a screen that looks rather intimidating at first.

What's cool is that it allows you to exclude "groups" of items such as Events, Medical Notes, Regular Notes, Research Notes, To-Do Items, and (gasp) even Sources.

The "Customize" screen for exporting a gedcom from Legacy.

I have so many events for some individuals that their profile screen in the online tree was extremely cluttered. I also have a lot of "special" or custom events created for my own use. In addition, I already have a lot of "Census" events so if I were to add the hints for census records as an event in the online tree, there would be a lot of duplication.

What I am now considering is uploading a rather "bare bones" file without events and notes but including sources. Such as they are. Then, I will selectively add "stories" from blog posts (as suggested by Apple) as well as adding "stories" as explanations for some of my conclusions regarding certain relationships.

My database is not perfect. It's not done. It never will be. There are some relationships entered that are purely speculation on my part, and some that are probably outright wrong. But if I wait until everything is "right" it won't ever get put online. On the one hand, I may be adding more misinformation to the multitude of misinformation already out there. Will that come back to haunt me some day? On the other hand, I know I have information that could resolve some of the misinformation on certain families.

So I'm still in a state of flux in deciding whether to put my database online, and if so, how much of it to share. Do I include events and sources?  I don't particularly like how the events get imported but I also don't want to spend a lot of time adding things to the online tree. Do I put up a tree with just the ancestors? Or do I include all 5000 deceased persons in the database? Decisions. Decisions.

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "There simply aren't enough hours in the day," Kinexxions, posted November 27, 2012 (http://kinexxions.blogspot.com/2012/11/there-simply-arent-enough-hours-in-day.html : accessed [access date])


  1. Hello Becky,I would just put it out there, you never know what the information might trigger, now or down the road. I put everything I had and all of the photo's I had and people are taking from them almost every day. The way I look at it is that these were great people and this is our tribute to them and through us they 'live on'.

  2. Hey Becky - I now have 8,354 people on my ancestry site (okay, a few of those are John's) with 9,360 hints (which I hardly ever look at) so I say go for it :). Babs

  3. Becky, I started a NEW file on Ancestry, connecting all associated evidence with each person as I added them. While there's a lot of non-sourced material out there, I was surprised at how the exercise of doing it that way made me even more disciplined about what I added to my other database. Eventually, I will have a direct line database, properly sourced and proven, which will make me happy. I'm going a generation at a time (although I do have a few lines that go farther back because I had available evidence right away), so I'm only just now starting generation number 3. Anyway, it seems to be working for me, but I know your research skills are far more refined than mine. :-) Oh, and the tree in NOT public. Until Ancestry gets things sorted out a bit more (like identifying who puts what information into the hopper) I'm going to keep it private. I have shared it with other researchers, one of whom is NOT related to me in any way but is helping me with my Dutch line, and that seems to work just fine.

    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and that you have a fabulous Holiday season!


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