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Re: [gensoft] Hosted Genealogy Software

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  • Leif B. Kristensen
    ... I m very much into the same ideas. What kind of framework do you have in mind? And why not include the advanced genealogists? -- Leif Biberg Kristensen |
    Message 1 of 18 , Feb 9, 2006
      On Thursday 09 February 2006 19:47, johntopl wrote:
      >Hi,
      >
      >I'm thinking of developing hosted (Web-based) genealogy software, sort
      >of like Gmail or Flickr but for family history. Do you think people
      >would be interested in such a service or do family historians
      >generally prefer to have their data held locally on their own
      > computers?
      >
      >The target market would probably be novice to intermediate
      > genealogists.

      I'm very much into the same ideas. What kind of framework do you have in
      mind? And why not include the advanced genealogists?
      --
      Leif Biberg Kristensen | Registered Linux User #338009
      http://solumslekt.org/ | Cruising with Gentoo/KDE
    • John Topley
      ... have in ... I m planning on developing it using Ruby on Rails (www.rubyonrails.org/). I wouldn t explicitly exclude advanced genealogists, one of the
      Message 2 of 18 , Feb 10, 2006
        --- In gensoft@yahoogroups.com, "Leif B. Kristensen" <leif@...> wrote:
        >
        > On Thursday 09 February 2006 19:47, johntopl wrote:
        > >Hi,
        > >
        > >I'm thinking of developing hosted (Web-based) genealogy software, sort
        > >of like Gmail or Flickr but for family history. Do you think people
        > >would be interested in such a service or do family historians
        > >generally prefer to have their data held locally on their own
        > > computers?
        > >
        > >The target market would probably be novice to intermediate
        > > genealogists.
        >
        > I'm very much into the same ideas. What kind of framework do you
        have in
        > mind? And why not include the advanced genealogists?
        > --
        > Leif Biberg Kristensen | Registered Linux User #338009
        > http://solumslekt.org/ | Cruising with Gentoo/KDE
        >

        I'm planning on developing it using Ruby on Rails (www.rubyonrails.org/).

        I wouldn't explicitly exclude advanced genealogists, one of the things
        I'm trying to find out is how genealogists feel about their family
        history data being held on someone else's servers. The program I have
        in mind would support GEDCOM import and export.

        John
      • Jim Winfrey
        ... John, Many of us are collaborating with other folks in our research. If I could limit access to my data to folks to whom I give permission to access or
        Message 3 of 18 , Feb 10, 2006
          On 2/10/06, John Topley <john@...> wrote:
          --- In gensoft@yahoogroups.com, "Leif B. Kristensen" <leif@...> wrote:
          >
          > On Thursday 09 February 2006 19:47, johntopl wrote:
          > >Hi,
          > >
          > >I'm thinking of developing hosted (Web-based) genealogy software, sort
          > >of like Gmail or Flickr but for family history. Do you think people
          > >would be interested in such a service or do family historians
          > >generally prefer to have their data held locally on their own
          > > computers?
          > >
          > >The target market would probably be novice to intermediate
          > > genealogists.
          >
          > I'm very much into the same ideas. What kind of framework do you
          have in
          > mind? And why not include the advanced genealogists?
          > --
          > Leif Biberg Kristensen | Registered Linux User #338009
          > http://solumslekt.org/ | Cruising with Gentoo/KDE
          >

          I'm planning on developing it using Ruby on Rails ( www.rubyonrails.org/).

          I wouldn't explicitly exclude advanced genealogists, one of the things
          I'm trying to find out is how genealogists feel about their family
          history data being held on someone else's servers. The program I have
          in mind would support GEDCOM import and export.

          John
           
          John,
           
          Many of us are collaborating with other folks in our research.  If I could limit access to my data to folks to whom I give "permission" to access or change it, I would certainly look favorably at a web based solution.  There are already a couple that do much of what you have described - one that doesn't control access and one that charges a prohibitive amount for even small databases.  So I am very interested in what you come up with and I will give you my ideas/preferences as you proceed.
           
          Jim

           
        • John Topley
          ... software, sort ... (www.rubyonrails.org/). ... could ... access or ... There ... even ... Thanks Jim. There would certainly be a permissions system in
          Message 4 of 18 , Feb 10, 2006
            --- In gensoft@yahoogroups.com, Jim Winfrey <jimwinfrey@...> wrote:
            >
            > On 2/10/06, John Topley <john@...> wrote:
            > >
            > > --- In gensoft@yahoogroups.com, "Leif B. Kristensen" <leif@> wrote:
            > > >
            > > > On Thursday 09 February 2006 19:47, johntopl wrote:
            > > > >Hi,
            > > > >
            > > > >I'm thinking of developing hosted (Web-based) genealogy
            software, sort
            > > > >of like Gmail or Flickr but for family history. Do you think people
            > > > >would be interested in such a service or do family historians
            > > > >generally prefer to have their data held locally on their own
            > > > > computers?
            > > > >
            > > > >The target market would probably be novice to intermediate
            > > > > genealogists.
            > > >
            > > > I'm very much into the same ideas. What kind of framework do you
            > > have in
            > > > mind? And why not include the advanced genealogists?
            > > > --
            > > > Leif Biberg Kristensen | Registered Linux User #338009
            > > > http://solumslekt.org/ | Cruising with Gentoo/KDE
            > > >
            > >
            > > I'm planning on developing it using Ruby on Rails
            (www.rubyonrails.org/).
            > >
            > > I wouldn't explicitly exclude advanced genealogists, one of the things
            > > I'm trying to find out is how genealogists feel about their family
            > > history data being held on someone else's servers. The program I have
            > > in mind would support GEDCOM import and export.
            > >
            > > John
            >
            >
            > John,
            >
            > Many of us are collaborating with other folks in our research. If I
            could
            > limit access to my data to folks to whom I give "permission" to
            access or
            > change it, I would certainly look favorably at a web based solution.
            There
            > are already a couple that do much of what you have described - one that
            > doesn't control access and one that charges a prohibitive amount for
            even
            > small databases. So I am very interested in what you come up with and I
            > will give you my ideas/preferences as you proceed.
            >
            > Jim

            Thanks Jim. There would certainly be a permissions system in place to
            support collaborative working. What are some of the other features
            that would help you?

            John
          • Jim Winfrey
            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 -
            Message 5 of 18 , Feb 10, 2006
              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

               
              On 2/10/06, John Topley <john@...> wrote:
              --- In gensoft@yahoogroups.com, Jim Winfrey <jimwinfrey@...> wrote:

              >
              > On 2/10/06, John Topley <john@...> wrote:
              > >
              > > --- In gensoft@yahoogroups.com, "Leif B. Kristensen" <leif@> wrote:
              > > >
              > > > On Thursday 09 February 2006 19:47, johntopl wrote:
              > > > >Hi,
              > > > >
              > > > >I'm thinking of developing hosted (Web-based) genealogy
              software, sort
              > > > >of like Gmail or Flickr but for family history. Do you think people
              > > > >would be interested in such a service or do family historians
              > > > >generally prefer to have their data held locally on their own
              > > > > computers?
              > > > >
              > > > >The target market would probably be novice to intermediate
              > > > > genealogists.
              > > >
              > > > I'm very much into the same ideas. What kind of framework do you
              > > have in
              > > > mind? And why not include the advanced genealogists?
              > > > --
              > > > Leif Biberg Kristensen | Registered Linux User #338009
              > > > http://solumslekt.org/ | Cruising with Gentoo/KDE
              > > >
              > >
              > > I'm planning on developing it using Ruby on Rails
              ( www.rubyonrails.org/).
              > >
              > > I wouldn't explicitly exclude advanced genealogists, one of the things
              > > I'm trying to find out is how genealogists feel about their family
              > > history data being held on someone else's servers. The program I have
              > > in mind would support GEDCOM import and export.
              > >
              > > John
              >
              >
              > John,
              >
              > Many of us are collaborating with other folks in our research.  If I
              could
              > limit access to my data to folks to whom I give "permission" to
              access or
              > change it, I would certainly look favorably at a web based solution.
              There
              > are already a couple that do much of what you have described - one that
              > doesn't control access and one that charges a prohibitive amount for
              even
              > small databases.  So I am very interested in what you come up with and I
              > will give you my ideas/preferences as you proceed.
              >
              > Jim

              Thanks Jim. There would certainly be a permissions system in place to
              support collaborative working. What are some of the other features
              that would help you?

              John







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            • Coddgenealogy
              I won t be writing any software, but perhaps could offer a user-oriented opinion regarding the expert/beginner dichotomy. For a person intending to write a
              Message 6 of 18 , Feb 10, 2006
                I won't be writing any software, but perhaps could offer a
                user-oriented opinion regarding the expert/beginner dichotomy.
                For a person intending to write a web-hosted code, I think the more
                important dichotomy is deep vs. recent time. I'm constantly surprised
                by how many people who don't know who their grandparents were. For
                them, genealogy means, among other things, cataloging living relatives.
                And, to be fair, their interest may be simply family history, in which
                the menu for the church supper in 1972 is a big deal. That raises issues
                of privacy, not just to avoid spam and identity theft, but just basic
                personal stuff. And the latter ranges from close to distant family.
                One's hard disk is reasonably private. Once you shift that to a server,
                lots of issues arise. I won't enumerate them, but the conclusion, I
                think, is that no server (in the sense that you offer full access to a
                community, however restricted) will replace a private hard disk.
                If, on the other hand, you mean server-based databases that simply
                function as remote hard disks, then fine. But that is not what I think
                you mean by hosted genealogical software.
                Deep time is, perhaps, pre-1900. Those folks are so remote that I
                don't care what dirt sticks--the more the merrier. And that focus
                probably maps well onto "advanced" genealogy.
                Rootsweb just sets anyone with a post-1930 birthdate to "Living."
                Other web-hosted databases are agnostic (Gencircles).
                Anyway, it seems to me that privacy presents a thorny issue for
                web-hosted genealogy, and that mere 'access control' does not address
                all the nuances. Sooooo, a super-private personal server space, and a
                larger, semi-public presence?
                Jonathan
              • John Topley
                ... 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
                Message 7 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
                  --- 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
                • John Topley
                  ... 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
                  Message 8 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
                    --- In gensoft@yahoogroups.com, "Coddgenealogy" <Coddgenealogy@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > I won't be writing any software, but perhaps could offer a
                    > user-oriented opinion regarding the expert/beginner dichotomy.
                    > For a person intending to write a web-hosted code, I think the more
                    > important dichotomy is deep vs. recent time. I'm constantly surprised
                    > by how many people who don't know who their grandparents were. For
                    > them, genealogy means, among other things, cataloging living relatives.
                    > And, to be fair, their interest may be simply family history, in which
                    > the menu for the church supper in 1972 is a big deal. That raises issues
                    > of privacy, not just to avoid spam and identity theft, but just basic
                    > personal stuff. And the latter ranges from close to distant family.
                    > One's hard disk is reasonably private. Once you shift that to a server,
                    > lots of issues arise. I won't enumerate them, but the conclusion, I
                    > think, is that no server (in the sense that you offer full access to a
                    > community, however restricted) will replace a private hard disk.
                    > If, on the other hand, you mean server-based databases that simply
                    > function as remote hard disks, then fine. But that is not what I think
                    > you mean by hosted genealogical software.
                    > Deep time is, perhaps, pre-1900. Those folks are so remote that I
                    > don't care what dirt sticks--the more the merrier. And that focus
                    > probably maps well onto "advanced" genealogy.
                    > Rootsweb just sets anyone with a post-1930 birthdate to "Living."
                    > Other web-hosted databases are agnostic (Gencircles).
                    > Anyway, it seems to me that privacy presents a thorny issue for
                    > web-hosted genealogy, and that mere 'access control' does not address
                    > all the nuances. Sooooo, a super-private personal server space, and a
                    > larger, semi-public presence?
                    > Jonathan

                    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

                    John
                  • Paul Blair
                    ... be a tool ... kinds of ... to make, ... we keep ... for all ... grandmother from ... this is ... identify, for ... that this ... way down ... have the ...
                    Message 9 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
                      --- 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
                    • 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 10 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
                        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
                      • Coddgenealogy
                        Re surety levels (confidence), you might consider assigning such to individual sources, and then computing the overall confidence at the level of individuals
                        Message 11 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
                          Re surety levels (confidence), you might consider assigning such to
                          individual sources, and then computing the overall confidence at the
                          level of individuals
                          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 12 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
                            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 13 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
                              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 14 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
                                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 15 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
                                  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 16 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
                                    > 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 17 of 18 , Feb 11, 2006
                                      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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