Saturday, October 8, 2016
The File That Wouldn't Finish
Volunteer work is, I feel safe in generally saying, what one does for that warm, fuzzy feeling inside of knowing we've done something beneficial for others. Helping. Making a difference.
Volunteer work is not something people engage in with high expectations of being never-endingly frustrated. At least, I know that's the case for me.
Unfortunately, this makes the second time I feel I've struck out in attempting to index genealogical records for FamilySearch. What happened? I've been doing this for years without such a sense of frustration. Has someone set up the format and forgotten to include some essentials? It seems the usual blanks to fill in aren't being served up in their routine manner. Something doesn't seem to be working right.
Remembering the pristine shape of the Hawaii marriage records I finally settled on the last time I had to escape from a poorly set up system, I tried in vain to locate more of the same. Remembering, also, to get a sneak preview of the documents I was about to index, I tried the preview option—but, as I had been warned, discovered that option is not always available. So, maybe I go into the next indexing project blind—or I come out of it blind. Either way, it's lose-lose. Not a pleasant proposition for the tentative indexing volunteer.
Since I always try for a collection with a middling rating of "3" for intermediate, I ended up selecting the collection for Illinois' County Naturalization Records. When the download was complete, my first clue of problems was the error message indicating the batch had already been worked on, but not finished.
I could see why. There was simply no way to make the system take the answers that were required. And I wasn't the superhero to make the unworkable suddenly fly. I bailed. Again. Wondering if I should be thinking bad thoughts about myself for inept volunteerism.
I moved on. Falling off a horse requires immediate regaining of lost territory; perhaps the same is essential for overcoming indexers. I switched to New York's U.S. District Court Naturalization Records. Perhaps NYC beats Chicago.
It didn't help much. I went through, entering all the required information, following the computerized prompts on the indexing system. And then I finished.
Or that's what I thought...
I clicked the requisite buttons to wrap up my work and submit it for the usual review. Only nothing happened. It closed out entirely—and then warned me that I had only completed 79% of the work.
Where was the other 21%?
I re-opened the file, took a look around, trying to find the section I hadn't—somehow—completed. The only guess I have is that the initial section failed to note the requisite entries I had made. The system refused to register what I had entered. Can't see how the volunteer can fix something like that. I closed out, once again. And saw that black mark of a warning that I hadn't gotten the job done.
There's something about the volunteer spirit that cries out for a success story, a resounding "we did it" for a triumphant exit. Somehow, today's experience—not to mention, the last one I "completed," as well—leaves a rather hollow echo.
Hopefully, someone in the crackerjack-smart design side of the FamilySearch indexing scheme will realize something is amiss with all these "incomplete" indexing projects.
Or maybe they'll devise a tutorial for folks like me, who seem to be suddenly not grasping just how to get the job done.