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Archiver > APG > 2009-01 > 1232159223

From: "Richard A. Pence" <>
Subject: Re: [APG] FW: "Fun" with ancestry.com
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2009 21:27:03 -0500
References: <01a001c97774$41d57670$c5806350$@net><9751CABE606E47399B7533478E8AD78E@YOUR58BA15CF1B><002d01c97812$68379f70$38a6de50$@net>

Elizabeth <> wrote:

> You're absolutely right, Dick. Even when the enumerator hears and spells
> the
> name correctly, it can be misread. But, as Michael John said last night:
>>It is easier to read the name when we know what it is. . . .
> and
>>It is those familiar with the local families who are the best
> but that is a theoretical ideal that is not possible in most situations.

> We all deplore "wrong readings," but it is unrealistic to expect indexers
> to
> be clairvoyants or, even, to have the collective wisdom of all on this
> list.

Understood - which is why I inserted "of course" after I wrote that the name
looked like PENCE to me.

I didn't make my point clear enough.

The fact that an indexer can transcribe almost identically written names on
consequtive census pages as PEVER and PRUCE indicates that no thought at all
is being given to the task. And most certainly it reflects both a lack of
both supervision and procedures. (All the talk about the economy and
government make-work programs has me thinking about what a splendid job the
various WPA teams did in creatind soundex indexes for some of the census
records - and I wonder if cross-checks are ever made in creating these new

One thing I didn't bring up earlier is that there also is a difference in
transcribing a document and creating an index of names. What the indexer
_thinks_ is not only sometimes permissable it is sometimes necessary.

> Until we figure out a way to have all records indexed by local individuals
> who are thoroughly familiar with both the local families and the traits of
> each culture who settled the region, these problems will exist. Frankly,
> I
> don't expect the ideal to happen any time soon.

Well, as we have sometimes heard, maybe what we need is another really good
depression. Then the new WPA can resurrect its soundex techniques and hire
local out-of-work CGs and AGs to create the indexes. <grad>

> In the meanwhile, a more practical policy, IMO, would be the old standard:
> If you see a problem, don't just vent---devise a solution.
> Applying that policy here, we might immediately do four things to turn
> "venting" into constructive criticism:
> 1. Develop a list of procedures we think would resolve the indexing
> difficulties.
> 2. Contact each provider of historical data on whom we rely and ask if
> they
> would provide a copy of their own quality-control process for indexers and
> those who supervise indexers.
> 3. Compare our list with the corporate lists, to identify potentially
> useful
> procedures not being applied.
> 4. Go back to the providers with a targeted list of potential solutions
> not
> yet applied and ask for a discussion of the pros and cons of each method
> we
> think would ameliorate current problems.

As always, Elizabeth, you have again nailed it. I was thinking yesterday
that what is most lacking with some of the on-line providers is a
discernible quality-control policy.

Is there a role for APG in this process? For example, maybe Ancestry feels
like it lacks the resources to evaluate all of the "errors" users encounter.
Could a committee of seasoned researchers filter these and pass on those
corrections that ought to be made.


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