Nfs - q&a

Discussions about using and improving the new FamilySearch online application.
russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Sun Sep 13, 2009 10:06 pm

jbh001 wrote:But remember that the original AF was designed on MS-DOS, which wasn't completely Y2K compatible. Even if the AF database itself was Y2K compatible the underlying OS it was developed on was not.


I followed the link. Nuisance issues at best. And certainly easy to fix if that's all that was wrong.

I think AF must have had much deeper issues.
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Postby KathrynGZ » Mon Sep 14, 2009 8:24 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:NFS does not mark all names "Ready" by default; rather, it marks only those names as "Ready" that meet all the requirements for temple work. An ordinance will not be marked "Ready" if that individual's record does not meet all the requirements....

Or are you suggesting a different set of requirements for a record to be deemed to be ready? That would seem to be quite a different question. There may well be some tightening of the requirements that may be appropriate. If you have suggestions in this regard, it would be nice to hear specifics.


Alan, your point is well taken. As far as I can tell, nFS marks all names ready unless it can't determine they are dead. That seems so broad that it's almost like having no requirements. Hence my statement about Ready being the default.

But your statement is more accurate, because obviously the requirement that a person be dead *is* a requirement :) So you're right--what I really want to say is that requirements need to be tightened in order to prevent duplicate temple work. When I teach family history classes or assist ward members as a consultant, I tell them that they should provide enough information about an ancestor to identify them uniquely in order to avoid duplicate ordinances. Mary b. 1856 Canada or John Brown, father of Mary b. 1856 Canada doesn't do the trick. Yet based on my experience, both those names would be marked ready in nFS.

As for translating "unique identification" into specific requirements, I need to give that more thought. Sounds like an interesting challenge! :)

Alan_Brown wrote: I imagine that some are, but that really shouldn't matter. In any large-scale development project, you will have highly-qualified subject matter experts who help develop the requirements, and highly-skilled developers who write the code to meet the requirements (I'm oversimplifying, but that's the basic structure). Unless you're really lucky, your best developers are not going to be your best subject matter experts, so the best strategy is to combine the efforts of the best in both realms.


You're right, of course... the best developers usually aren't SMEs (though in my own web development experience, the end product is much better when I have a thorough knowledge of the process I'm supporting). And you're also right that the Church would have to be pulling in genealogy experts to complement their skilled engineers.

Still, there seems to be a disconnect when the system clears names that most, if not all, competent researchers would not consider identified well enough to avoid duplicate ordinances.

This is *great* discussion. Thank you!

Kathryn

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Mon Sep 14, 2009 8:56 pm

Kathryn wrote:they should provide enough information about an ancestor to identify them uniquely in order to avoid duplicate ordinances. [B]Mary b. 1856 Canada


That was a major issue under the old system. The submission was quite limited. When the temple work was done, the limited personal information was etched in CD-ROM and that's the way it stayed.

Under the new system, it's now the person in nFS that gets updated. More information can be added later. Also it's no longer necessary to uniquely identify the individual if they are attached to a large enough group of people that the relationships uniquely identify the group.

If members are following church guidelines, then at minimum they will be submitting "Mary b. 1856 Canada, daughter of John Brown, who is the father of John, who is the father of Joan, who is the mother of William, who is the father of LDS member and submitter, Kathryn". That won't show in the temple cards, but that is what appears in nFS as others are looking for a match.

That's something we didn't have under the old system.

Yes, more information is desirable as it's possible to run into duplications if others also have sketchy information and come from the mothers, spouses, or children's lines. But the person has been uniquely identified.
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Postby KathrynGZ » Tue Sep 15, 2009 6:14 am

After I wrote that post last night, it hit me: the problem we're dealing with is

"eligible for temple ordinances (i.e., proven dead with death date more than one year in the past)" != "adequately identified to avoid duplicate temple ordinances"! Maybe that was obvious to everyone else, but this formulation helped me articulate the problem and hopefully move toward a solution.

Currently, these two concepts are not interpreted the same way in nFS, as far as I can tell. I believe they need to be the same if we wish to cut down on duplications.

RussellHltn wrote:That was a major issue under the old system. The submission was quite limited. When the temple work was done, the limited personal information was etched in CD-ROM and that's the way it stayed.

Under the new system, it's now the person in nFS that gets updated. More information can be added later.


Yet this doesn't solve the problem. I often find in nFS that the person was entered with so minimal information that I cannot with certainty tell whether they are the same person I am trying to clear. Since I can't tell accurately who the person is that is already in nFS, I can't tell whether to add information to the existing record or create another record. You may point out that the person who added the name could add more information, and that is true--however, they may not do so, or they may die, and in the meantime, I'm trying to make progress on my lines and do not have the information I need to avoid duplication.

RussellHltn wrote:Also it's no longer necessary to uniquely identify the individual if they are attached to a large enough group of people that the relationships uniquely identify the group.

If members are following church guidelines, then at minimum they will be submitting "Mary b. 1856 Canada, daughter of John Brown, who is the father of John, who is the father of Joan, who is the mother of William, who is the father of LDS member and submitter, Kathryn".


Two comments: First, if the person is attached relationally to their family, that can be a form of unique identification (though not necessarily--in England, for example, people would often name a child with the same name as a deceased sibling. I have run across families with several Williams or Johns all within a few years of each other). Second, I don't believe it is a requirement to submit multiple generations as in your example. I can submit Mary b. 1856 Canada with no other information or relatives, and her name will be marked ready. Although we're obviously encouraged to provide complete and accurate information, I'm not aware of any guideline that prohibits a submission like this, and it's definitely possible to submit a child with a birthdate and her two parents with no identifying information whatsoever, and no other relatives.

I am giving serious thought to Alan's question about what should qualify a name to be ready, using the definition proposed above--which is that they are proven deceased and identified adequately to avoid duplicate temple work. I suspect a large part of this will be the future ability to tie names to images of source documents.

Still thinking (while I head off to my day job :) )

Kathryn

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Postby russellhltn » Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:24 am

Kathryn wrote:Two comments: First, if the person is attached relationally to their family, that can be a form of unique identification [...] Second, I don't believe it is a requirement to submit multiple generations as in your example.


It's a general rule that we should be submitting only for our own ancestors. So one would hope that the person we're submitting for has already been attached to our own tree. You won't see that in the submission, but the submissions from nFS is a person ID, not just an extraction of immediate data.

It is permissible to do work for those with the same surname in the same general area, so that could end up being a problem.

While you're contemplating Alan's question, I've got another one for you:

Using the measurement of doing the most amount of work for our dead, with the least amount person-hours, where would you set the criteria such that:

- The level of duplicate work wouldn't create a serious efficiency drain
- You could be reasonably certain of getting everyone
- The fewest number of people not receiving ordnances because some piece of information simply isn't available.
- The number of hours needed for research needed to chase down a detail doesn't exceed the hours that duplication would waste.

Again, cast this as an efficiency issue. Not a "no duplicates" issue. There's a huge work we have to plow through. We can't be too disorganized, but we can't be too limiting either. We need to be efficient.
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Postby garysturn » Tue Sep 15, 2009 9:44 pm

It is a Church policy which allows work to be done on a small amount of information. It is a personal decision made by each individual and the spirit. There will always be some who do more research and provide better information and those who just make up dates and places. We will be blessed for our effort, if our effort is better we will be blessed. The Church does not want to prevent someone from being able to do the work for someone by to many restrictions, but that does not mean we should go out and seal Mr Jones to Mr Jones to Mr Jones for multiple generations without doing any research. Personal responsibility is needed. nFS does allow for us to add the correct information when someone else has been careless and both records will be kept. We should do the best of our ability.
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Postby KathrynGZ » Fri Sep 18, 2009 12:24 pm

RussellHltn wrote:While you're contemplating Alan's question, I've got another one for you: Using the measurement of doing the most amount of work for our dead, with the least amount person-hours, where would you set the criteria such that:

- The level of duplicate work wouldn't create a serious efficiency drain
- You could be reasonably certain of getting everyone
- The fewest number of people not receiving ordnances because some piece of information simply isn't available.
- The number of hours needed for research needed to chase down a detail doesn't exceed the hours that duplication would waste.

Again, cast this as an efficiency issue. Not a "no duplicates" issue. There's a huge work we have to plow through. We can't be too disorganized, but we can't be too limiting either. We need to be efficient.


Russell, I appreciate your thoughtful questions and am pondering them. Since there are no quick answers it may take a little while before I have a response. But I am working on one, since I think this problem is well worth tackling. I really appreciate this discussion!

Kathryn

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Postby KathrynGZ » Sun Sep 20, 2009 4:53 pm

Okay, here are my thoughts as I've pondered the questions raised by Alan and Russell.


  1. I think it's fair to say the Lord wants us to avoid duplicate or incorrect temple ordinances (D&C 127:9 and 128:9). We're not just checking names off a list. These are ordinances which bind on earth and in heaven! (Read this not as any kind of criticism to anyone anywhere, but as recognition of the serious nature of temple work.)
  2. Corollary: The Lord is able and willing to help us avoid duplication and errors. I have experienced His correction and guidance in my research, as others have.
  3. Possible consequences of not identifying an ancestor adequately:
    • Duplication of temple work, possibly more than once.
    • Incorrect work which needs to be redone.
    • Missed work due to work appearing to be done when it really wasn't.
    • Greater difficulty in collaboration.
  4. Consequences of errors in #3.
    • Needed work is delayed, with a very real impact on those beyond the veil. According to President Hinkley, they are like the desperate Martin & Willie handcart pioneers (see "How Beautiful Thy Temples, Lord" by Elder D. Todd Christofferson.) Not only is their progression stopped, but they are suffering.
    • We add to an almost impossible workload. President Kimball taught, "The day is coming... when all temples on this earth will be going night and day.... There will be a corps of workers night and day almost to exhaustion, because of the importance of the work and the great number of people who ... are craving, needing, the blessings that can come to them.” (quoted in “The Life and Ministry of Spencer W. Kimball,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball.) Seems we would want to minimize errors and duplication for the sake of those exhausted temple workers--who may be us! :)
  5. I will make a bold assertion here :) Duplicate work is not necessary.
    • The Lord can help us avoid it as we humble ourselves and listen to the Spirit.
    • If we don't have adequate information on one line, there are virtually always others we can work on until the information becomes available (which is happening at an increasing rate). More than once I've felt prompted to set one line aside and work on another.
    • The issue raised by Russell of balancing research time against time spent on duplicate ordinances assumes those are the only choices. But another choice is to set those names aside and work on others.
    • The assumption that it's more efficient to duplicate an ordinance than to spend a greater amount of time researching doesn't take into account two things:
      • The Lord teaches us to do genealogy as we do it. I may spend several hours researching on one ancestor, but I learn things that help me research more efficiently in the future—things I may not have learned had I not done careful research.
      • Research for one ancestor often applies to others. I may spend several hours locating a good source that identifies my ancestor unmistakably, but that source may also allow me to clear additional names.
  6. Stricter identification standards will not slow down temple work and will increase quality, which will actually increase efficiency overall, for the reasons listed in #5.
  7. Why it is important to have better identification standards:
    • It's human nature to follow the path of least resistance ("If I can do a name without complete information, why bother to get the information?"). Stricter standards help compensate.
    • Better standards teach members the importance of adequate identification.
    • Members don't understand the data in nFS and therefore trust it too much ("I thought his work was done, but the nFS says Ready, and this is Church software, so it must need to be done!")
    • We can expect over time that church members will become more proficient at research (particularly the tech-savvy upcoming generations). In addition, more and more records will become available, so adequate identification will be less of a burden.
Finally, I wanted to address one of Alan's questions: "If names aren't marked Ready by default, what should the default be?" My suggestion assumes stricter identification requirements: If a name doesn't meet these requirements, perhaps it could be marked "Ready to validate" and the system could indicate what information is needed before the name is ready for ordinance work.

As for what those stricter ID standards might be, stay tuned for Part II. Ongoing discussion and alternate points of view welcomed :)

Kathryn

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Postby greenwoodkl » Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:16 pm

I just wanted to add a quick few thoughts to this thread. Namely that nFS is ultimately going to be open to non-members as far as I'm aware. They may not necessarily be open to as much spiritual or other assistance in this work, nor care about temple ordinances as much as a universal family tree. I tend to lean closer to Alan and Russell's interpretations than Kathryn's, only because I think the necessary resources to manage more restrictions may not be available. I think in general as more sources become available and nFS is modified to better document sources, hopefully users will see the value in more complete information and data and adjust their methods. I think the effort to improve the system may be better spent following Joseph Smith's example in teaching principles and let the users govern themselves. Utilize the newly published Sunday School materials for a Family History class. Work with Priesthood leaders to create a dynamic and flowering family history environment with members where FamilySearch Indexing, FamilySearch Record Search, the FamilySearch Wiki, FamilySearch, new FamilySearch, etc... are all used. Develop trained consultants. Teach good genealogical principles because no matter what restrictions are placed, people will find ways around it and be as lazy and sloppy in their work to get around the restrictions. They may make up dates, they may still do work without adequate research.

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Postby rmrichesjr » Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:43 pm

Kathryn wrote:Okay, here are my thoughts as I've pondered the questions raised by Alan and Russell.


    ...
  1. Corollary: The Lord is able and willing to help us avoid duplication and errors. I have experienced His correction and guidance in my research, as others have.
    ...

As for what those stricter ID standards might be, stay tuned for Part II. Ongoing discussion and alternate points of view welcomed :)

Kathryn


That's great about experiencing divine correction and guidance while doing research.

One thought that comes to mind is that I would like to think that those who make the decisions about how nFS works would also be receiving correction and guidance as to their decisions about what ID standards should be built into the system. Those decisions are made at least a few levels above the developers who do the coding.


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