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The Key to Quality


"Quality or Quantity?" is one of the big questions in family history. Some researchers and websites measure success largely by the number of records they harvest. Others are meticulous in checking and rechecking every detail, but as a result make progress very slowly. Is it possible to have both quality and quantity?

FamilySearch is the largest free family history website in the World, so clearly a leader in the numbers game. Interestingly, it also tackles the quality question. Its indexes rely on a process where, working independently, two volunteers index every record. The results are compared electronically and when a pair of entries gives the same result it is accepted. If the two entries do not agree, they are referred to an experienced arbitrator whose role is to determine which (if either) is correct.

This approach can slow down the indexing process to some extent, but it is an excellent way to ensure quality. Also, it means that it is not a major problem if initial indexers sometimes make a mistake - they do not have to be 100% accurate every time. Something worth bearing in mind for societies and individuals when organising their own indexing programmes.

You can read more about the arbitration process and associated issues at FamilySearch blog.


Francis Howcutt
FFHS Archives Liaison

10 June 2016

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