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Sunday, 16 January 2011

Frustrated by new FamilySearch?

It's new, it's different, and it has some great new features BUT many of us are having great difficulty getting to grips with it. This is partly because it is unfamiliar, and partly because some of the features we want are not there yet, but have been promised - notably batch numbers, which are so useful on the old site. But much more problematic are those areas where the site simply does not work properly, or returns inconsistent search results, and so on.

Some people want none of it, and just want the old, familiar FamilySearch to remain untouched. Well that isn't going to happen, and nor should it. The old site is what we are used to but it is far from perfect, and couldn't cope with the quantity and range of records being added to the new site, let alone links to images.

So FamilySearch is changing, and there will never be a better chance to influence the eventual design of the site. I have written about this in previous posts here, and Rosemary Morgan gives a detailed account in her London Roots Research blog. We have both encouraged people to make use of the Feedback button visible on every page of new FamilySearch, and I think it is worth expanding on this a little.

When you click on the button, you have a choice of links, and the one you want is:

"Share your ideas Click here if you have a great idea on how to improve FamilySearch "

This doesn't take you to an ordinary feedback form, but to the FamilySearch Community page, a discussion forum. You can simply record your feedback as a new item, or you can look at what other people have already written and add your comment to theirs. You will need to sign in to contribute, creating an account if you don't aleady have one - it's very easy. You can even vote on what people's comments by clicking on a button 'I like this idea' The more people vote on a particular post, the more it gets noticed. So if someone has already made your point, it makes a lot of sense to add your vote to it, and add an extra comment if you wish. Some of the comments are along the lines of 'You have ruined this site, it's rubbish', which might be heartfelt, and letting off steam can make you feel better, but it's unlikely to achieve much. It's much better to be specific, and to describe exactly what you think needs to be changed, and why.

I recently wrote a blog post about my biggest problem with the new site, the unsatisfactory and inconsistent place filters for the British Isles. I had already raised this issue in the FamilySearch Community which got some attention. If you agree with what I said there, you can click on the 'I like this' button, and get some more attenttion for it (hint, hint). At the time of writing this post, only about 2500 people had registered any feedback at all in the Community. That's not many, considering how many people must use FamilySearch every day. So if you use FamilySearch, and want to influence the way it is going to develop in future, TELL THEM WHAT YOU THINK.

Like all bloggers, I appreciate comments on my posts, but in this case I'd far rather that you click on one of the feedback links above, and get busy in the FamilySearch Community. See you there  

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