Keying Standards: What Has Changed?

Many of the indexers that have been keying for the Ancestry World Archives Project have been keying the same way for many years. So with the new Keying Standards that were posted Tuesday the 19th, what has really changed? Three things.

  1. When the year is presented on the image in 2 digit format, it does not need to be expanded.
  2. When a suffix field is not provided in a project “Junior,” “Jr,” “Senior,” or “Sr” may be keyed into the surname field after the name.
  3. Periods “MAY” be entered when on the image. (But they do not need to be entered as long as in place of the periods there is a space.) This is like the first change noted in that we are trying to give indexers more flexibility in how they key.

You may still have a few questions. For instance, if a four digit year is keyed, should I mark it as incorrect in the review? The answer is no. As long as the year is correct, it should not be marked wrong.

What if Mr is on the image, but it was not keyed into the given name field? Still do not mark it wrong in the review, though we hope it is keyed, as it maybe useful in the index we are creating.

We have received a lot of great feedback regarding the changes to the keying Standards. This is a positive response, because it means our community is actively engaged and paying attention. Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback. We have incorporated your suggestions and it is making the Keying Standards much better.

Please note that these changes only apply to new projects! However if they are applied in an older project, they should not be marked incorrect.

Some of you have been wondering how the Keying Standards should be used? Here is what we envision:

  • The Wiki Instructions are king. However the Wiki Instructions say to key a project, is how it should be keyed. So if the Wiki Instructions say to expand all years into four digits, that is what should be done.
  • If while keying a project you run into a situation that is not covered in the Wiki Instructions, you would then refer to the Keying Standards.
  • If your question is not covered in the Keying Standards, you would then ask a question on the discussion page or on the appropriate message board.

Change is difficult. Especially change that does not make sense to you. I hope through the answers given on the message boards and here, that much of the confusion will be cleared up. If not? Please post a question, and we will do what we can to resolve the issue. This community matters to us and the small changes we are making are designed to impact the community in a positive way as well as further the work we are trying to accomplish at Ancestry. For us that work is not about the bottom line, it is about helping people make discoveries. That is what you are doing when you index with Ancestry. We hope you will feel the same way. We hope you will feel supported. Happy keying:)

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Reader Comments

Gold star in your handling of all of the issues that were pointed out.

Thank you! That means a lot.

Sean, Thank you for communicating to promptly.

Sean, you’ve made a good first step here. However, I would strongly suggest you read through the old keying standards from Kathie on the message board that were around long before was, and see how streamlined, clear, and concise they are. You’d do well to take the old version she gave and build on it for the new Keying Standards – but don’t build on it so much that it doesn’t make sense anymore.

The old phrase KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) has a lot of truth in it. Keying and reviewing shouldn’t have to require a degree in legalese to do correctly. You’ve made a good first step; now, take a few more steps to make the new keying standards read more like those that Kathie offered in the message board, and THEN you’ll have a good product.

Have been reviewing Belfast project this AM and find that keyers are now inserting prefix into the Given Name field.

Type your comment here. I am working the Irish Famine and find that some ordinary titles are missing from the dropdown lists. An example is the title “Earl” and “Widow”, others. I put them in anyway because I think they are important. Also, please comment on the issue of the authors who are obviously unschooled and make mistakes. (a common one is where the writer leaves out the letter “e” in names like Dooley, Riley, etc.) That omission will occur throughout a list.

Bob, we don’t key Widow as a prefix. Also, Earl will usually go in the Given Name field or Suffix field as part of a phrase, i.e. Earl of Wherever, because the name will usually appear as either Earl of Wherever, or in the form John Smith, Earl of Wherever. (The “Wherever” part of the name will not usually be his surname.)

If the name appears to be mis-spelt on the image, we key it as seen rather than correcting it.

In regards to expanding and/or not expanding the year. When the field instructions say do not expand, I am finding as a review most people are expanding. The expanding seems to be correctly done, but the field instructions say do not. Do I still hold to the instructions to mark as incorrect? I ask because this is the case 90% of the time.

Where year has been expanded and is clearly correct, you need not mark it incorrect; however, we are hoping indexers will catch on to this standard in time.