Update notifications for New FamilySearch

This suggestion was also submitted through FamilySearch feedback.

FamilySearch development team:

New FamilySearch is a wonderful, collaborative system.  When I am doing research to extend a distant family line, I am working with literally dozens of other contributors, most of whom I have never contacted.  Due to the large number of contributors working on common lines, new information is frequently added to one of my ancestors.  Unfortunately, I must visit the record for each ancestor just to check if any information has been added.  It would be great if I were notified each time information is added to certain individuals.  I suggest FamilySearch add “update notifications” to facilitate this.  Updates can be sent via RSS, email, or web-based.

For RSS updates, various feeds could be created, including:
  • One feed per person identifier
  • A single feed for “all my ancestors”
  • A feed for “all ancestors of John Doe”
  • A feed for “all descendants of Jane Doe”

I imagine that the development team will select one or some, not all of these options, to avoid giving the user too many choices.

E-mail updates would be nice, and could be sent daily, weekly, or “as it happens.”  This is a great option for users who don’t use RSS; additionally, it aggregates multiple updates into a single notification.

Web-based update notifications would be managed and listed within the (New) FamilySearch website.  This would be similar to the “Watch List” on FamilyPursuit.com or wikipedia.org.  Each contributor would be able to “bookmark” or “watch” any number of individuals in FamilySearch.  I envision a simple star next to the name in the lower half of the “Family Pedigree with Details” view.  Clicking the star would add the individual to the watch list.  The watch list page (or layer) could be organized two different ways:

  1. List each person on the watch list, along with the date of the most recent modification and the name of the contributor.
  2. List updates chronologically (most recent first, of course)

In familypursuit.com’s watch list, updates can be marked as “read,” which provides a quick and easy way for contributors to remember which updates they have seen.  (Wikipedia’s watch list lacks this feature).

On a related note, it would be great if there were a unified “last updated” or “last modified” field for each individual.  Currently, the website lists a “Changed by” date for fields in the Summary view.  However, additional sources or information in the “Details” view don’t seem to be included here.  Is there currently a way to see the modification date for any information associated with an individual?

Update notifications would significantly help me to collaborate more efficiently with others in family history work.  Thank you for your dedicated efforts to improve FamilySearch.  If you have any questions about the features I have proposed, feel free to contact me; I would be happy to discuss them with you.

James F. Carroll