Finding a correct marriage date can make children born before a marriage not a problem. Sometimes children are born before a marriage. Sometimes husbands and wives really do have the same surname and sometimes they don’t and I may never have enough information to know. Multiple records show that a girl in my database was married at age 12. I’d like to think that isn’t so but I can’t prove otherwise. Win some, lose some.
I have an issue with the way things are set up which I get to near the bottom and what inspired me to write this post.
Creating a Potential Problems List
There are various options on the left for what kind of list. For instance, you can do a Focus Group search first, tag the search list and then run a Potential Problems report for only those people. Or re-check only people already marked to be excluded. Or only look at old problems and any new problems. Or make a list of all problems again from scratch. Or you can just choose the default setting and get a list for your entire database minus what you’ve already excluded.
When the list comes up on the next screen, the first thing I do is go through it using the button Mark as Not a Problem for anything I disagree with. For instance, using Unknown as a surname. Or obvious things to fix immediately like sorting a children’s list into chronological order, punctuation errors and so on.
Printing a Potential Problems Report
After refreshing the list by going back to the previous screen and creating the list again I print the list as a text file. It can also be printed as a PDF but I prefer TXT so I can delete items as I work through it.
Printing the list gives me a view of specific problems whereas clicking through a tagged list won’t.
Working With the Potential Problems Report
I work with this on two monitors. The Potential Problems report on the left, Legacy on the right.
First, I copy and paste an RIN into the H or W box, lower right on the screen, so I can navigate to the person. Then I look around at the situation the problem points to.
If it might help I go straight to looking up records using Internet/Search Internet for Current Person. Where I look depends on my Search settings. This may solve a problem immediately. And if it’s solved it won’t show up again on the next report.
Inside the Individual’s Information Screen is a button near the bottom that says Exclude from Potential Problems.
If the problem is really not a problem to begin with, I exclude it by ticking the appropriate reason.
If I’ve tried everything I can and I can’t solve the problem right now, I leave it on the problems list.
Working With the Un-Decided List
Unfortunately, there’s no way to separate the problems that I know are not problems from what I’m 100% sure I can’t make a definitive answer to now or in the foreseeable future. If I exclude them so I don’t waste my time re-searching for the impossible, they’ll all come up together when I run the Exclude list report. So, I reserve the Exclude list for problems that are truly not problems. My Exclude list has 730 items so it would be a gargantuan task looking for needles in that haystack.
But if I don’t put them on the Exclude list they’ll come up over and over again on the Potential Problems report. Black or white.
There should be a gray option meaning, “I’ve looked, I don’t know what the answer is, maybe it’s a problem, maybe it isn’t but I don’t want to see it again for X number of months.” This way only NEW items show up on the next Potential Problems report.
The option to tick and un-tick specific people is ridiculous because, really, how would you know the difference between that and a permanent exclude?
It’s vaguely workable in a sure-we-can-move-the-mountain-to-the-other-side-of-the-street-but-why-would-we-want-to kind of way. After solving or excluding everything you can, you’d have to recreate the Potential Problems list on a tag number, make a note in the Advanced tagging box and click through all of those adding them to Exclude. Sometime later when you want to look at them again, you’d have to search the tag number and take them out of Exclude one at a time.
I’d suggest some different options:
You can add those people to the To-Do list and then add them to Exclude. (Time-consuming to do. You have to remember to look at your To-Do list constantly and, if you have a lot of items there, those could get lost in the clutter.)
Or give the list a permanent tag number to be compared to a future list with a different tag number. (For instance, Tag 9 but NOT tag 8, re-tag what’s left on another tag and then go back to the report options and limit your search to that number.)
Or print the list to paper and compare it to a future printed list. (Why waste paper and ink? And you’d have to remember where you put the paper.)
Or keep the TXT file you’ve whittled down to the maybe-I-can-decide-something-someday-people and compare it to a new report later using WinMerge to pick out only the new items.
The Exclude from Potential Problems button (shown above) will show an asterisk if it’s been used in any way but since my excludes really are excludes I don’t know why I’d care.
Annoying details aside, Potential Problems is a very useful report and a giant step up from stumbling upon your data errors by accident.