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Family Search Reviews

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Editor's Overall Rating:
Average User Rating:
(based on 16 reviews)

Category: Genealogy Sites (AKA Family Tree Websites)
Website: http://www.familysearch.org

Editor's Review Costs & Features Videos User Reviews

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Free site, collaborative tree
14 May 2017
Reviewer: An Old Timer from Chicago, IL, USA

30 of 61 people found this review helpful

Search Effectiveness:
Ease of Navigation:
Technical Support:
Help Files / Documentation:
Ease of Joining / Registration:
Value for Money:
Overall Star Rating:

This site is continuing to add features and it is not always easy to find what you are looking for. It is divided into two major areas and several other areas.

What most people, including the reviewer on this site, do not understand is that there are -no- individual trees, except those that are uploaded into a read-only area via GEDCOM files.

The major tree is one single collaborative open-edit tree that is intended to cover the entire human race. Living persons are private, available only to those who create them. Deceased persons are generally open-edit, except for those born before 1500 and certain celebrity personalities (mostly attached to the early Mormon Church leadership).

The tree was created from previous tree systems used by the Genealogical Society of Utah (now FamilySearch) and contains many duplicates which patrons can merge to help clean up the tree. It has a built-in source linker that can be used to link sources from the Historical Records Collection (which is the other major section) with their respective persons in the tree.

Two searches are available. One search covers the massive tree (currently there are over 1.1 Billion names in the tree) and it is access via FIND under the Family Tree tab. The other search covers the historical records and it is available under Search. Neither search has boolean capabilities.

Eventually, the entire film collection will be digitized and where applicable, indexed. Availability online is dependent upon contractual agreements between the owners of the records and FamilySearch. There are currently over 300 teams working with various repositories to capture, preserve, index, and make available records that otherwise are not found online.

The features of the site are extensive and some of the best are the least used. Finding the features is not always easy and the reason for the Ease of Navigation rating. The best way around the site, if you cannot find what you are looking for, is the site map. Feedback is also available and includes a link to a GetSatisfaction forum where problems can be reported and help received from an active online community, including FamilySearch personnel.

The FamilySearch Wiki is an open-edit research system based upon the same software that is used by Wikipedia. Anyone with an account can edit or add material to the wiki, but access is limited until the account has been approved to post. That process usually takes only one or two business days.

Web-based indexing is a new feature, replacing downloadable indexing and eventually, published indexes will be editable, providing a means to correct mistakes made during the editing process.

Finding applicable help is difficult at best. The Help center is divided into (knowledge) articles, lessons, and the wiki. The lessons and wiki sections expand as you explore them. The articles section only lists the top ten most accessed articles for the keywords entered into the search field.

There is an extensive Learning Center with lessons and videos ranging from beginners to advanced oriented toward specific research areas.

Help files are almost non-existent and there is no centralized how-to documentation for the site. This is a very weak area and needs a lot of work. The search capabilities of the Help Center is frustrating at best.

The collaborative tree is extremely large, but there are weak areas.

"Memories" in the form of photographs/images and documents of various types can be uploaded and tagged to persons in the tree, but the organization leaves a lot to be desired. The area is still in development. Videos cannot be uploaded.

Source-linking is relatively easy, but the linking process is weak, and does not allow any changes to be made to the data from the source on in the tree's record at the time the source is linked. In additoin, sources are person-centric, that is, the automatically-formed citation is to the individual to which the source is being linked. Manually created sources are also allowed, but editing either type of source is confusing at best.

The marriage area is another area that needs a lot of help. Presently, only basic marriage events are allowed, while any other events or facts have to be entered as notes in what is known as the spousal relationship area.

The person's details page allows for a life sketch, stories, and notes. A discussion feature is also available for people to have open discussions about the person. An extensive change log records all changes that are made and up to 4,000 individuals can be "watched" for changes. A weekly email advises the patron of any changes to the persons they are watching.

Besides Vital information (BMD and Christening and Burial) , there is an "Other Information" section where an unlimited number of alternate names can be entered and classified as Also Known As, Married Name, Nickname, and curiously, Birth name. Generally, the birth name is recorded in the Vital Information Section.

The site is FREE.

In summary, I would recommend Family Search to a friend.

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