With the launch of the latest World Record Challenge there has been lots of chatter both here on the blog and over on our Facebook page about quality. It seems that quite a few of you are concerned that these types of challenges encourage people to key faster and consequently, quality suffers. I didn’t feel like that was true but thought I would do a couple of things to prove or disprove this perception.
First, I spent some time arbitrating every day this past week. (I usually only do this once a week or so.) I didn’t notice any major change in quality this week from months past. “That’s good,” I think.
However, my perception is just as anecdotal as yours so I thought I would dig down into some reports, analyze the data and see if I could figure out the reality. Here are a few things the numbers tell me:
- There were almost 130,000 more records keyed and arbitrated last week than the weekly average of the last two months.
- There were over 1550 more hours contributed last week than the Sep/Oct weekly average.
- We had almost two dozen more people contribute this past week than the average of the previous eight weeks.
- Collectively, you each put in about an hour and a half more last week than you have in previous weeks.
- And, you are keying about six records more per hour than you did before.
This means that there are more of you, keying more often – and yes, you are all keying just a little bit faster. But, not much. And considering we released a directories project just before this all began, not at all surprising.
I still find myself still a little confused about where this perception of quality degradation comes from. So, back to the numbers:
- Our top ten keyers last week (by volume) keyed and arbitrated 16% of the total record count of the week. Those ten people have an average accuracy rate of 96%.
- All keyers on the top three projects (by volume) last week have an average accuracy rating of 94%.
- We have an average of 125 new keyers join us each week (and last week was no exception). A random sampling of 15 of these new keyers shows an average accuracy rating of 87%.
What does all of this tell me? It tells me that the more you do, the more experienced you become, the better your quality. Remember when you first started keying? No matter how great the instructions or how much we communicate as a community, there will always be work for the arbitrators to do because there are always new people joining our ranks and learning how we do things.
I’m glad you brought up the topic. It made me think and dig in to find some answers.
You generously contribute your time to participate in the Ancestry World Archives project because you understand how important it is that we make as many records as possible, available as quickly as possible to family history researchers around the world. But, we all know that if they aren’t keyed correctly chances of people finding them decrease dramatically.
Is quality important? Absolutely! Are there things each of us could do to improve the quality of our keying? Absolutely! Because of that I want to keep discussing this topic. Every Monday and Thursday for the next several weeks I’ll publish a brief blog post (much briefer than this one, I promise) discussing a different aspect of quality. I hope you’ll read it, share your thoughts and impressions in the comments, and maybe implement one or two better practices in your own keying in the process.
I am more convinced than ever that what we are accomplishing together as a community of World Archives contributors is meaningful and significant. My thanks to each of you for making whatever contribution your time and circumstances allow. Whether you keyed 17,000 records last week or one, you made a difference.
Until next time – Happy Keying!