First, a not-so-humble confession. I’m a good arbitrator! And I believe most of the arbitrators for FamilySearch indexing can say the same thing. We’re not perfect, but we strive to do our best. We read the indexing instructions. We index batches now and then to keep our skills honed. We can quote the basic indexing guidelines. Along with following the rules, some of us have a few secret habits to confess.
I feel guilt, but I push through that feeling for the good of the researchers.
I struggle having to choose between two good indexed values. I know both indexers did their best, and sometimes neither one is wrong, but in the current indexing program, I must choose between Indexer A and Indexer B whenever they don’t fully agree. This must be done so the record can be published on FamilySearch.org. Even when I believe I made the best choice according to the instructions, I feel bad for the good indexer who I disagreed with.
I need guidance.
I can’t do arbitration in isolation. I don’t know everything. I don’t remember everything. To get arbitration done right, I need help and reminders. I rely on project instructions, the Training Resources page at familysearch.org/indexing/help, local support, other indexers, and FamilySearch Support to get answers as I arbitrate.
I search on Google.
Not long ago, I arbitrated a UK burial record for “The Right Honorable Emily Harriet Countess Stanhope.” This project didn’t have a Titles and Terms field, but I wondered whether Stanhope should be considered a surname or part of a title.
Emily Harriet Stanhope
© National Portrait Gallery, London
I searched on Google. Not only did I discover that she went by the surname of Stanhope, but I also found a picture of her in the National Portrait Gallery of London. Amazing!
I also found that her maiden name was Kerrison, but I didn’t index that name because it wasn’t on the burial document.
It’s okay to use the resources available to you, as long as you strive to stay true to the document.
So, what are your arbitration confessions? Comment below.