What thoughts come to your mind when you hear the word arbitration? Do you think of volunteers? Differences of opinion? Ancestors waiting to be discovered? For those who don’t know, arbitration is an essential step in the indexing process. Currently, every record is indexed twice and arbitrated once to resolve differences between the two indexes. Indexed records can’t be published until they’re arbitrated.
This process has made over a billion records searchable in the past nine years. And arbitrators have risen to the call to increase the quality and amount of their efforts; however, there are currently over 16 million indexed images of historical documents that are awaiting arbitration. That represents millions of individuals whose names cannot yet be published. We need your help!
How You Can Help
If you are currently arbitrating, review the instructions, and keep up the good work!
If you are an arbitrator who hasn’t arbitrated in a while:
- Refresh your memory with the arbitration tutorial.
- Review the project instructions and basic indexing guidelines.
- Come back and arbitrate again.
If you’re not an arbitrator but you’re interested in becoming one:
- Make sure you have indexed at least 4,000 records with high quality and understand the instructions for every project you plan to help arbitrate.
- Read this document on becoming an arbitrator.
- Talk to your group administrator or FamilySearch to offer your help and discuss your qualifications.
The Future of Arbitration
You may have noticed that pleas for arbitration happen fairly often. Wouldn’t it be great if more high-quality indexed records could be published online without having to rely so much on arbitrators? It’s possible to have this simplified process while still maintaining or even increasing quality. How? One word: technology.
FamilySearch is constantly finding new ways to use technology to magnify the efforts of all of the volunteers. About 20 years ago, the “verify records” process helped increase the quality of extracted records. Then arbitration revolutionized the indexing process in 2006. Now, as we develop another new indexing program, we are discovering more ways to keep quality high while reducing the effort it takes to index each record. Check out “Magnifying Volunteers’ Gifts: A Progress Report” to learn more.
Even with the help of technology, every volunteer is vital to this effort of making historical documents searchable online. Thank you for your continued dedication to helping researchers worldwide find their ancestors.
– Article by Katie Gale