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RE: [gensoft] Re: Hosted Genealogy Software

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  • Coddgenealogy
    My question really is, do people think that the privacy of genealogical data is more of a thorny issue than it is with, for example, e-mail? Countless people
    Message 1 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
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      My question really is, do people think that the privacy of genealogical
      data is more of a thorny issue than it is with, for example, e-mail?
      Countless people (myself included) seem happy to have their personal
      mail stored on Google/Microsoft/Yahoo's servers, in exchange for the
      convenience of being able to access their e-mail from any PC connected
      to the Internet.

      Would the usefulness of a Web-based genealogy solution (that featured
      appropriate access controls) overcome such privacy concerns? There's a
      good, but longish, essay by Paul Graham about the advantages of storing
      everything on the server at http://www.paulgraham.com/road.html
      The short answer is yes. Email is just an address, genealogy can be
      much more personal. Also, the whole point of genealogy is display info.
      Your email is private to you.
      I do like the idea of access controlled web-based software. Just
      saying that genealogists are still going to want and require something
      nobody can see. Perhaps just having a "private" tag available would do
      the trick.
      Jonathan
    • Dawn Crowley
      I have differing levels of certainty on different data for the same individual. For example: death date confirmed from multiple reliable primary sources
      Message 2 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
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        I have differing levels of certainty on different data for the same individual.  For example:
            death date confirmed from multiple reliable primary sources
            marriage date estimated due to lack of primary or secondary sources
            birth date estimated based on eldest known child (especially for men who age 12-15 years per decade while women age 6-9 years in the same decade!)
            relationships to each individual have varying confidence levels
        Therefore, the confidence tags need to relate to events and to people.

        Dawn

        John Topley wrote:
        --- In gensoft@yahoogroups.com, Jim Winfrey <jimwinfrey@...> wrote:
        >
        > Well John, since you asked, my perfect collaborative world would be a tool
        > where I and the researchers who are working with me can enter all kinds of
        > data - research notes, basis for the inevitable assumptions I have to make,
        > ways of identifying conflicting data, any the other kinds of stuff we keep
        > in all those file boxes.  I'd like standard genealogy functions like
        > recording of events, census data, alternate information, etc.
        >
        > One thing I'd love to see is a way to identify overall confidence for all
        > the people in my database.  For instance the confidence level for the
        > relatives I have known is very high but for my 7th great grandmother from
        > Poland that I got off the IGI database, the confidence level that this is
        > even the right person is very low.  I'd like to be able to identify, for
        > every person (not just individual events) the confidence level that this
        > person is a part of this tree.  Several programs let you do this way down
        > deep in the sources somewhere but it would be extremely useful to have the
        > information adjacent to the person's name.
        >
        > My desires for viewing and output for a collaborative tool would be to have
        > a common genealogy front end that relatives and casual researchers could get
        > into via an access code.  Then a second level I would call research
        > repository where the serious researchers I'm involved with can put
        > any/everything we collect related to our research targets.  This would be
        > almost a free form database where stuff would be stored in raw form until it
        > was proven, used, disproved, or determined not to be useful, then it would
        > be cleaned up and used to establish confidence for the data in the front
        > end.
        >
        > Thanks,
        >
        > Jim

        Thanks Jim. How do you envisage the confidence level feature working? Would it be as
        simple as assigning a rating (say one to five) to each individual? The view on the tree could
        then be filtered by confidence level if desired.

        John



      • Jim Winfrey
        I think most genie programs assign surety levels for each source but that is not obvious until you drill down to the sources. The problem is for a given
        Message 3 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
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          I think most genie programs assign surety levels for each source but that is not obvious until you drill down to the sources.  The problem is for a given person we can have sources with a high level of certainty down to some with low levels - all for the same person.  The problem I run across is that I can have a person who is well sourced in their events but what is missing is a certainty level for whether they are really part of the line I'm researching.  I try to always document my uncertainties but that doesn't show when I'm looking through my family lines.  I was looking for some rating system that shows on the main screen for an individual.  It could be as simple as 1.  Assumption based on available evidence, 2.  Supported by evidence and sources, 3.  Proven by evidence and sources.

          Jim

          On 2/11/06, Paul Blair <pblair30@...> wrote:
          --- In gensoft@yahoogroups.com, "John Topley" <john@...> wrote:
          >
          > --- In gensoft@yahoogroups.com, Jim Winfrey <jimwinfrey@> wrote:
          > >
          > > Well John, since you asked, my perfect collaborative world would
          be a tool
          > > where I and the researchers who are working with me can enter all
          kinds of
          > > data - research notes, basis for the inevitable assumptions I have
          to make,
          > > ways of identifying conflicting data, any the other kinds of stuff
          we keep
          > > in all those file boxes.  I'd like standard genealogy functions like
          > > recording of events, census data, alternate information, etc.
          > >
          > > One thing I'd love to see is a way to identify overall confidence
          for all
          > > the people in my database.  For instance the confidence level for the
          > > relatives I have known is very high but for my 7th great
          grandmother from
          > > Poland that I got off the IGI database, the confidence level that
          this is
          > > even the right person is very low.  I'd like to be able to
          identify, for
          > > every person (not just individual events) the confidence level
          that this
          > > person is a part of this tree.  Several programs let you do this
          way down
          > > deep in the sources somewhere but it would be extremely useful to
          have the
          > > information adjacent to the person's name.
          > >
          > > My desires for viewing and output for a collaborative tool would
          be to have
          > > a common genealogy front end that relatives and casual researchers
          could get
          > > into via an access code.  Then a second level I would call research
          > > repository where the serious researchers I'm involved with can put
          > > any/everything we collect related to our research targets.  This
          would be
          > > almost a free form database where stuff would be stored in raw
          form until it
          > > was proven, used, disproved, or determined not to be useful, then
          it would
          > > be cleaned up and used to establish confidence for the data in the
          front
          > > end.
          > >
          > > Thanks,
          > >
          > > Jim
          >
          > Thanks Jim. How do you envisage the confidence level feature
          working? Would it be as
          > simple as assigning a rating (say one to five) to each individual?
          The view on the tree could
          > then be filtered by confidence level if desired.
          >
          > John
          >

          RootsMagic has this in the source recording area - they use Citation
          Quality – this is a primary, secondary, questionable, or unreliable
          source for this person, family or fact.

          Paul









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        • kr_afol
          The idea of web-hosted collaborative software is not new. There is at least one system out there (can t remember its name though). However, the problem that I
          Message 4 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
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            The idea of web-hosted collaborative software is not new. There is
            at least one system out there (can't remember its name though).

            However, the problem that I have found with putting even limited
            information onto the WWW (in a non-collaborative way) is that there
            is always someone who wants to violently disagree with it.

            For example, I have a relative who thinks our great-grandfather had
            3 marriages compared to the 2 I believe occurred. The issue hinges
            on one document that contains the name of this purported third wife.
            I believe that this is simply an appalling rendering of the German
            name of the second wife by an English clerk and that there is no
            third wife. He believes there is a third wife. Now my point here is
            not who is right or who is wrong. My point is that different people
            can look at the same source material and form different conclusions
            and this is where collaboration gets tricky.

            Yes, you can have a system of confidence levels that each researcher
            can assign to each fact, but frankly I'm not sure I want to
            have "my" family history full of putative spouses and other junk
            that I have to run around assigning low levels of confidence to. I
            think it would irritate me enormously. If every researcher maintains
            their own database, then everyone is free to have their own version
            of events and add only that which pleases them to add.

            I guess in summary, the idea is a good one, but I worry about the
            social side of collaboration.

            For example, who would ultimately control the information on the
            collaborative site? Look at this Yahoo group as a point in case.
            There is a group owner who ultimately controls the group. I presume
            that any message I post can be unilaterally deleted by the group
            owner and that I can be thrown out of the group by the group owner.
            So the group owner is all powerful but since I have very little
            invested in my involvement in the group, that's OK.

            But how would a collaborative genealogy site work in this regard? I
            have a lot of research invested in my family history. Would I be
            happy to use a site hosted by SomeoneElse as my primary information
            store? Would I be confident it would continue to be available? Would
            I be happy that the site owner could (for whatever reason) delete
            material I had added? Hmm, maybe not.

            Kerry
          • Paul Blair
            I have had phpGedView running for about 2 years less a couple of months. There are 30 users, about half of them have edit rights. This means they can suggest
            Message 5 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
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              I have had phpGedView running for about 2 years less a couple of
              months. There are 30 users, about half of them have "edit" rights.
              This means they can suggest amendments, or add new data. The data is
              a copy of what I have on my own home machine, and the site is
              password protected.

              All changes comes back to me to approve. That sounds a bit extreme,
              but this starts can start a negotiation process. In all of the work
              (perhaps a couple of hundred amendments), there have been only 2
              unresolved issues, and these are added to the notes so the
              disagreement is known about.

              The collaboration spans the globe - England, Canada, Texas (well,
              they seem to think it's a country!), all over Australia (where we're
              not so sure...) It has saved me countless hours of research, created
              interest where there may have been none before, and opened doors that
              I've really delighted about. The process holds no fears for me. And
              it sure speeds up family debate!

              My 2c worth.

              Paul

              At 09:24 am 12-02-2006, you wrote:
              >The idea of web-hosted collaborative software is not new. There is
              >at least one system out there (can't remember its name though).
              >
              >However, the problem that I have found with putting even limited
              >information onto the WWW (in a non-collaborative way) is that there
              >is always someone who wants to violently disagree with it.
              >
              >For example, I have a relative who thinks our great-grandfather had
              >3 marriages compared to the 2 I believe occurred. The issue hinges
              >on one document that contains the name of this purported third wife.
              >I believe that this is simply an appalling rendering of the German
              >name of the second wife by an English clerk and that there is no
              >third wife. He believes there is a third wife. Now my point here is
              >not who is right or who is wrong. My point is that different people
              >can look at the same source material and form different conclusions
              >and this is where collaboration gets tricky.
              >
              >Yes, you can have a system of confidence levels that each researcher
              >can assign to each fact, but frankly I'm not sure I want to
              >have "my" family history full of putative spouses and other junk
              >that I have to run around assigning low levels of confidence to. I
              >think it would irritate me enormously. If every researcher maintains
              >their own database, then everyone is free to have their own version
              >of events and add only that which pleases them to add.
              >
              >I guess in summary, the idea is a good one, but I worry about the
              >social side of collaboration.
              >
              >For example, who would ultimately control the information on the
              >collaborative site? Look at this Yahoo group as a point in case.
              >There is a group owner who ultimately controls the group. I presume
              >that any message I post can be unilaterally deleted by the group
              >owner and that I can be thrown out of the group by the group owner.
              >So the group owner is all powerful but since I have very little
              >invested in my involvement in the group, that's OK.
              >
              >But how would a collaborative genealogy site work in this regard? I
              >have a lot of research invested in my family history. Would I be
              >happy to use a site hosted by SomeoneElse as my primary information
              >store? Would I be confident it would continue to be available? Would
              >I be happy that the site owner could (for whatever reason) delete
              >material I had added? Hmm, maybe not.
              >
              >Kerry
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >Yahoo! Groups Links
              >
              >
              >
              >
            • Kerry Raymond
              ... This is my point. The reason it works (for you) is that you remain in control, some are allowed to assist you, while others have merely an observer role.
              Message 6 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
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                > All changes comes back to me to approve. That sounds a bit
                extreme,
                > but this starts can start a negotiation process.
                 
                This is my point. The reason it works (for you) is that you remain in control, some are allowed to assist you, while others have merely an observer role. I'd be happy if I remained in control of the data too :-) But would it work for you if you didn't have that control and if everyone had edit rights? Would you be happy to put your data on my phpGedView where I had the control?
                 
                Just out of curiousity ... with phpGedView (which I have never used, but have seen it on a few sites), what happens if I set up one too (over which I retain control as you do) and then we discover that we have a branch of our two families in common. How do we combine the information? Which site holds/controls it? One or both? If a WWW-hosted collaborative system was to work, it must scale to encompass this kind of thing from both a technical and social standpoint.
                 
                To some extent, I am replaying a discussion here that took place among some of my colleagues (all distributed system researchers, but most of them not genealogists) a couple of years ago. Our conclusion was that a distributed network of genealogical information was probably possible, but there were a lot of pitfalls to be dealt with, both in terms of the technical side and the social side.
                 
                Kerry
                 
                 
              • Paul Blair
                ... Well, if everyone had edit rights, I d still have control. Note that I have control only because its my site. If it belonged to my sister, she would have
                Message 7 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
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                  At 03:35 pm 12-02-2006, you wrote:
                  > > All changes comes back to me to approve. That sounds a bit extreme,
                  > > but this starts can start a negotiation process.
                  >
                  >This is my point. The reason it works (for you) is that you remain
                  >in control, some are allowed to assist you, while others have merely
                  >an observer role. I'd be happy if I remained in control of the data
                  >too :-) But would it work for you if you didn't have that control
                  >and if everyone had edit rights? Would you be happy to put your data
                  >on my phpGedView where I had the control?

                  Well, if everyone had edit rights, I'd still have control. Note that
                  I have control only because its my site. If it belonged to my sister,
                  she would have control. I guess I then have to show people that I'm
                  using my power responsibly. If I didn't have control...hmmm....I
                  think there would be difficulties.
                  >
                  >Just out of curiousity ... with phpGedView (which I have never used,
                  >but have seen it on a few sites), what happens if I set up one too
                  >(over which I retain control as you do) and then we discover that we
                  >have a branch of our two families in common. How do we combine the
                  >information? Which site holds/controls it? One or both? If a
                  >WWW-hosted collaborative system was to work, it must scale to
                  >encompass this kind of thing from both a technical and social standpoint.

                  Sites like mine depend on GEDCOMs for feedstock. So, if we want to
                  share info, we need to share GEDCOMs, I guess. The web site is only a
                  mirror of my work, not the prime holding. Changes that come to me get
                  transferred by hand back to the master file. Tedious at times, but it
                  gives me thinking time...

                  At the end of the day, software is only a tool. But remember that I'm
                  collecting data for me, to share with whom I choose. I don't own
                  anything, nor would I criticise anyone for doing what I might have
                  done already. Anyone else can do what I did (probably better!) and
                  I'm not shoving my work (and errors) onto them. They have free will.
                  >
                  >To some extent, I am replaying a discussion here that took place
                  >among some of my colleagues (all distributed system researchers, but
                  >most of them not genealogists) a couple of years ago. Our conclusion
                  >was that a distributed network of genealogical information was
                  >probably possible, but there were a lot of pitfalls to be dealt
                  >with, both in terms of the technical side and the social side.

                  I agree totally. Being able to negotiate is an essential part of all
                  this! My mother had a poster in her kitchen about sweet words, and
                  not having to eat them tomorrow!

                  Regards

                  Paul
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