At the end of April, I shared the story of meeting a cousin and then getting together the next day with him and my uncle. That afternoon, as we were visiting, we pulled up our tree on the FS app several times. At one point, my uncle pulled up our ancestor, William Taylor. He turned his phone to show me the page on William Taylor and I blurted out, “That’s not William Taylor, that’s James Lake.” (James is also our ancestor.) We got back on topic, but I was definitely puzzled about the photo issue and revisited it later.
I logged into FamilySearch on my laptop and looked at William Taylor. Sure enough, his profile picture was a picture of James Lake. An edited version of this photo of James Lake:
But the really weird part was that the photo showing as William Taylor’s profile picture was NOWHERE in his memories. I must have looked through that list of photos ten times trying to find the James Lake photo. It simply wasn’t there.
So how on earth did a photo of James Lake become the profile picture for William Taylor?
I clicked on the profile picture and chose a different picture from William’s memories to become the profile picture for William Taylor. Once I had done that, James Lake was no longer seen anywhere on William’s page.
This funny little moment has me wondering about a few things.
First, how did the wrong picture end up in his profile in the first place? Was it uploaded to William Taylor and then later deleted? If so, why did it still show as his profile picture? Was it the first picture uploaded to William Taylor? Does that make it the profile picture by default?
Second, how does a picture get assigned as the default profile picture? I did not choose a photo as the profile photo for William Taylor. So how does FS go about deciding for me?
Third, if this little glitch was a ghost of a photo that was uploaded and then deleted, why did it still show up as William’s profile picture? That seems like a problem to me.
Here’s the good news in all of this.
IF I am correct and someone erroneously uploaded James Lake’s picture to William Taylor, crowdsourcing is working well on FamilySearch because now, William Taylor has a whole list of photos that are clearly all photos of the same man – hopefully of William – and not of James Lake. That is a good thing.
I’m grateful to all of the FamilySearch users who are trying to make the tree more accurate. Thank you for your diligence!
And for those of you who get frustrated by the mistakes on FamilySearch, I am hopeful that this is an example of how the tree overall is evolving to a more accurate collection of data, photos, and stories. I hope that trend continues!
Happy Tuesday, I hope you have a glitch-free week of family history! xoxo
ps – I also hope that FamilySearch can make some adjustments to their system that will help beginners participate in a way that is less frustrating for more seasoned users. We all go a little crazy when our pet relative is suddenly a disaster created by a beginner who doesn’t really know better.